The United States women's national team took on a long time rival, the Canadian women’s national team on Sunday. The game was the first time the USWNT was truly challenged in the Olympic qualifying tournament, and that showed in the team’s performance. The USWNT fell apart under pressure by not scoring until the second half and a lack of a clean passing game. Those things can create concern among USWNT fans as the 2020 Summer Olympics are coming up. Let's take a look at what worked and what didn’t work against the quality opponent:
Alyssa Naeher isn’t in anybody’s shadow
If people weren’t convinced that Alyssa Naeher is the real deal — especially under high pressure from Canada — they shouldn't be questioning anymore. With a save that kept the USWNT in the game, Naeher single handedly saved the game from opening up in the 38th minute. The save allowed the USWNT to continue into the second half and score a goal in the 60th minute. The game was the first time Naeher was officially challenged by a team in the tournament. Nonetheless, the goalkeeper remained sharp by making smart decisions to save the game.
The backline is under pressure
The team seemed to scramble when the pressure was heavy from Canada. The U.S. defense looked especially young when attempting to clear balls from the backfield. Naeher saved the backline when Canada’s Christine Sinclair slipped past both centre backs. The backline not only needs to work on communication, but also weaving in the inexperienced players with the more experienced players.
Coaching needs to find a rhythm
With a new coach, comes a new lineup and new starters. However, new starters and new lineups creates a need for chemistry. Without chemistry, a game won’t flow well, causing the team to scramble in order to keep it together. Vlatko Andonovski needs to find a coaching rhythm in order to better his team. His constant change in starting lineups is preventing the team from getting into working order with each other, which contributes to a lack of goal scoring and continuing strong even with heavy pressure.
There is a lot that needs to be done in order for the USWNT to be ready for the 2020 Olympics. In order for the USWNT to succeed, it needs to find chemistry, solidify a starting lineup, work on passing game and work on its scoring game when teams are shutting them out. Whether or not the team finds its rhythm will determine how well it finishes in the Olympics.