WWC Breakdown: Alex Morgan, Julie Johnston, and the USWNT Earn a Date With Destiny

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This is the team that Coach Jill Ellis apparently wanted them to be, because the points I’ve made before about their previous matches against Nigeria and Columbia is pretty much what I have to say about Tuesday night’s match.

The U.S again missed a ton of chances, dominated defensively, and wore Germany out with their possession.

 

  1. S. Defense and Possession

More and more the U.S.’s style of play completely exhausts their opponents. Germany came out with a very good game plan: high pressure defense; seemingly the only way to frustrate the U.S (See U.S. v Australia).

Coach Ellis has since made the adjustment going with a possession oriented game plan, and giving heavily minutes to Tobin Heath and Morgan Brian: two players that have been making great decisions and passes in the previous 2 games.

The U.S.‘s back line of Julie Johnston, Ali Krieger, Meghan Klingenberg, and Becky Sauerbrunn demonstrated their class in front of Hope Solo. Solo needed to only make one save from a shot on goal all night.

That fact bears repeating: the U.S. only allowed one shot on goal to FIFA’s number one ranked team in the world. Germany scored 10 goals in a match in the world cup already, only to meet up with U.S. backline, and their brush with history.

The U.S. have not allowed a goal in 513 minutes of play in the World Cup, which is second all-time in the World Cup to Germany’s 679 between 2007 and 2011. The U.S. has only allowed one goal through this World Cup.

Alex Morgan and Abby Wambach are wonderful players. But (with the exception of almost getting a well-deserved red card Tuesday night) Julie Johnston and Becky Sauerbrunn are having the best Women’s World Cup of all time.

(Shout out to Kanye West)

  1. Lucky Breaks

Romanian referee Teodora Albon made two controversial decisions Tuesday night that went in the U.S.’s favor:

In the 59th minute, Julie Johnston pulls down a German attacker in box. This foul technically denied Germany of a clear goal scoring opportunity, and should have led to a red card for Johnston. Instead, Germany then promptly shanked the ensuing penalty kick.

In the 69th minute, Alex Morgan is grabbed outside of the box and the foul continued to the edge of the penalty box. Quite often, I have seen this play called as a free kick instead of a penalty. Carli Lloyd scored on the following penalty kick, giving the U.S. the lead.

The players themselves were lucky, when Morgan Brian and Alexandra Popp crashed heads together during Tuesday’s match, leaving both players sprawling in a heap.

Both players were administered the concussion tests and looked either bloody or disoriented, both were then taken off of the field and giving more tests and treatment, and then both returned to the field shortly thereafter.

Aside from the wincing that Popp made on each header throughout the rest of the match, both players looked fine.

Hopefully both players will be fine, but only time will tell.

 

  1. Missed Opportunities

Once again, the U.S. had trouble finishing in the final third when given multiple opportunities to score. (Like)

However, the fact is: no team has shown that they can score on the U.S. this tournament, other than Australia (Raise your hand if you saw that one coming); I’m sure the U.S. isn’t worried.

Maybe they should be, considering:

  1. England beat Canada… in Canada… to get to the Semifinals, and don’t appear frightened of the spotlight.
  2. Japan gives them problems defensively whenever they play.

To their credit, the U.S. is offensively creating a ton of chances. Alex Morgan is giving center backs a really bad case of the yips and higher therapy bills.

The problem is chances don’t win world cup trophies; Goals do. Hopefully for their sake, they get some on July 5th.

The world will be watching.

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