Andonovski’s facet should get sharper with Olympics up subsequent

Andonovski’s facet should get sharper with Olympics up subsequent

Few had been stunned that the USWNT received its fourth SheBelieves Cup in six years on Wednesday, however the Stars and Stripes definitely made the march to the title extra of a slog than anticipated.

– Rapinoe scores twice as USWNT win SheBelieves Cup
– Andonovski: USWNT labored properly as a unit vs. Argentina

Their opponents — Canada (lacking seven key gamers), Brazil and Argentina (a late substitute for Japan as a result of COVID-19 issues) — weren’t the standard of teams of previous SheBelieves Cups, so I assumed the event can be pretty one sided for the U.S., solely that wasn’t the case. Canada appeared fairly good in opposition to the U.S. underneath their new head coach, Bev Priestman, Brazil was extra organized underneath former USWNT head coach, Pia Sundhage, and Argentina? Nicely, Argentina was what we predicted… underwhelming.

With the Olympics nonetheless scheduled to start lower than 5 months from now, let’s replicate on what we have discovered from this SheBelieves Cup:

A wholesome reminder

For the U.S., not taking part in their greatest and nonetheless profitable the title is all the time a superb factor. Here is why: These gamers will return to their golf equipment understanding that their world domination isn’t but full. In Orlando, they had been typically uncovered on the again, errors that higher teams would punish.

The U.S. weren’t clear in entrance of objective, both — that may very well be the distinction in a good sport in opposition to a greater opponent. These gamers know all of this, and that may gently hang-out them. They may watch the video games again and work on getting issues proper, understanding that the SheBelieves Cup was a refined, but essential reminder for them to maintain that fireplace burning brilliant.

Roster Roulette

Talking about maintaining that fireplace burning, when USWNT head coach, Vlatko Andonovski, is requested about what number of spots on his 18-player Olympic roster stay open, he says 18. Clearly, he has many locked in, however I do suppose because of the restricted video games and entry to gamers and coaching camps, this Olympic roster is understandably going to take longer to decipher.

Roster roulette is a captivating sport to play, so let’s give it a attempt. Based mostly on the final six video games (three in SheBelieves Cup, plus Colombia twice and the Netherlands), and assuming Andonovski and his employees are taking two goalkeepers, six defenders, 5 midfielders, and 5 forwards, listed below are some eventualities (and the participant choices for that ultimate spot in italics):

GK: Alyssa Naeher, Ashlyn Harris/Jane Campbell
DF: Crystal Dunn, Becky Sauerbrunn, Abby Dahlkemper, Kelly O’Hara, Emily Sonnett, Casey Krueger/Tierna Davidson/Midge Purce/Ali Krieger
MF: Julie Ertz, Sam Mewis, Lindsey Horan, Rose Lavelle, Catarina Macario/Kristie Mewis
FW: Christen Press, Tobin Heath, Megan Rapinoe, Alex Morgan, Carli Lloyd/Lynn Williams/Sophia Smith

The U.S. ladies ran out winners of the SheBelieves Cup following three wins, however they’re going to should be sharper in entrance of objective in opposition to higher opponents, particularly within the upcoming Olympics. Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire through Getty Photographs

Questions nonetheless needing solutions

The place is Carli Lloyd in her comeback after lacking most of 2020 due to damage?

Lloyd had a objective and help in opposition to Argentina and appeared sharper than in her earlier SheBelieves Cup sport, however she missed a couple of wonderful possibilities vs. Canada. Rapinoe’s comeback, after additionally lacking most of 2020, appears clearer. She completed the SheBelieves Cup because the main scorer and likewise leads the team with 5 targets in 5 video games in 2021. Rapinoe has proven she will be able to nonetheless affect video games shortly and constantly. I feel Lloyd might want to present that within the coming months as properly.

How has Alex Morgan recovered from lacking 2020 as a result of being pregnant, a knee damage and a COVID-19 analysis spilling into 2021?

I assumed her efficiency in opposition to Brazil was a plus. Her touches had been sharp, her motion good. She additionally scored a pleasant objective in opposition to Argentina.

Did Lynn Williams assist or harm her case for breaking into the ultimate 18 Olympic roster based mostly on her play on this SheBelieves Cup?

This can be a robust query for me to reply as a result of I really like a lot of what Lynn Williams does together with her velocity. She will get into nice positions and turns defenders, which makes her a constant risk to the opposition. She additionally does a ton of labor on the defensive facet of the ball. All nice attributes, sure, however her ultimate go and her ending are far too inconsistent, hurting her possibilities to grow to be an everyday starter.

If Williams completed a few of these alternatives in opposition to Canada and Brazil, the video games would have been much less of a slog.

What number of youthful gamers can Andonovski afford to interrupt in? Will they be prepared for the Olympics?

Catarina Macario struggled in midfield vs. Canada, however excelled as a ahead in each video games in opposition to Colombia. Sadly, Macario didn’t get to see a number of time on this SheBelieves Cup as she went again early to her membership in Lyon.

Sophia Smith got here into the sport within the 65th minute in opposition to Brazil and whereas she did not make a lot of an affect, she performed a ravishing ball for the help on Alex Morgan’s objective vs. Argentina. I feel this younger participant could also be on the skin peeking in, however she goes to be enjoyable to observe. She runs at gamers higher than most.

Then there’s Kristie Mewis. Not a younger participant — she’s 30 — however she is new to the combo (or, extra aptly, newly again within the combine) and has appeared constantly sharp, with a objective and help in opposition to Argentina.

Additionally to ponder:

– Would Andonovski take into account taking 5 defenders, as an alternative of six, since Julie Ertz also can play center-back?

If he did that and he took Dunn, Sauerbrunn, Dahlkemper, O’Hara and Sonnett, the U.S. would have three pure outside-back choices in Dunn, O’Hara and Sonnett. That appears skinny for that place given the tight Olympic sport schedule and the way typically O’Hara has been injured. That’s the reason I feel he takes six defenders and Ertz in midfield.

Since he does have the Ertz choice at center-back, I feel that sixth defender must be a participant who can play outdoors again.

– How in regards to the midfield combine?

If Vlatko felt strongly about each Macario and Kristie Mewis, Macario may go as a ahead, however meaning different forwards (like Lloyd, Williams and Smith) may not make the roster. I can’t see that taking place. I feel Lloyd goes. Her work on on each side of the ball continues to be among the best on the team. Add in her sturdy mentality and ending capability in massive moments, and even at 39 years previous on the Olympics, she might help the team.

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USMNT’s Rose Lavelle says that the white gamers must “pull their weight” within the battle in opposition to racial inequality.

Their Superpower

With the Olympic rhythm being tighter than the World Cup schedule (two days relaxation on the Olympics, in comparison with three at a World Cup) and the Olympic roster being 5 gamers lighter than a World Cup roster, you possibly can’t afford to deliver gamers who might assist the team or should not 100 % match. With solely 16 area gamers and restricted relaxation, EVERY SINGLE PLAYER should contribute, which is why the U.S. are the clear favorites to win the Gold Medal: their squad is far deeper than any team on the market.

That’s their superpower. The U.S. can area two line-ups which can be fairly totally different, but each sturdy, and we have seen Andonovski do that all through his tenure with the nationwide team. Who else on this Olympics pool may do this with out dropping a lot in any respect in that second group? Possibly Nice Britain. For the U.S., will probably be much less about who’s beginning and extra about managing the rhythm of minutes performed per sport in order that whichever mixture is on the sphere, they’re aggressively dictating the tempo.

General, I feel the U.S. will take an enormous optimistic from this SheBelieves Cup as a result of they continue to be undefeated underneath Andonovski, and let’s not neglect: they didn’t concede a objective on this event, the primary team to ever do this within the event’s historical past. (It simply goes to point out you the usual by which we decide this team’s efficiency, which I nonetheless suppose was removed from their greatest.)

Andonovski’s final probability to judge gamers in opposition to different worldwide opponents comes within the April FIFA window (by the June window, the team will likely be set). It is simply the setting wanted to make these ultimate judgements after which begin rallying the Olympic team of 18 collectively.

Here is to hoping an Olympics will certainly be performed in July. Sending out my greatest YES-the-Olympics-will-be-played karma into the world proper now. Do the identical, please!

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