USWNT is a shutdown machine: but is it ready to defend the attack it will face at the Tokyo Olympics?


In 26 days, the American women’s football team played five football matches for the Tokyo Olympics, won five football matches, scored 15 goals and not conceded. In all these matches, USWNT’s opponents had 5 shots on goal.

If these games are not just exhibition games—not just tools to prepare for the fifth gold medal in the seven women’s football games—such extraordinary defensive statistics will be worth the breathtaking celebration.

However, when goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher trots to her position and gets more exercise than in the entire 90 minutes of the game, we wonder if she and the defense that protects her have gone through the necessary tests to do for the world number 5 Well prepared, the Swedish Olympics will begin on July 21.

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Monday often Dazzling 4-0 victory over Mexico Play against the 28th ranked team in the world. The other recent victims are Portugal, the 30th, Nigeria, the 38th, and Jamaica, the 51st. The group that USWNT will participate in includes even more daunting opposition groups, including Australia ranked 9th and New Zealand ranked 22nd.

“I’m not worried at all,” USWNT head coach Vlatko Andonovski told Sports News. “Actually, I’m very happy that the defenses are synchronized well. We know the quality of Alyssa and we are very happy where we are. In the past five games, they have indeed accepted a certain degree of difference in different ways. Tested. But they are also tested daily in our environment.”

This will be Andonowski’s first major game as the head coach of USWNT, but he will use the same four-man defense line as the 2019 Women’s World Cup champion: right back Kelly O’Hara, center back Abby Dalkenberg and Becky Sauerbrunn (below) and left back Crystal Dunn. Naeher started all seven games in that game and only scored three goals in total.

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Ideally, defensive midfielder Julie Eltz would stand in front of the fivesome during the Olympics, but she has never played since she injured her knee in the Chicago Red Stars NWSL game in late May. game. Andonowski said on Monday that he expects Eltz to participate in a squad scuffle before the game with Sweden, a long-term nemesis of American women.

This is what the team will do after arriving in Japan this week: practice. Before most major games, the team will have closed-door friendly matches to adapt to the host country. However, due to the COVID-19 agreement, USWNT will limit interaction with other teams to six games between them and the gold medal (hopefully).

This is not necessarily a bad thing.

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“I’m not overly worried because I have to train day after day to fight the best attackers in the world,” Sauerbrunn told Sports News. “So every day I have to face Alex Morgan, Carly Lloyd, Megan Rapinoe, Christine Price… Unfortunately, this situation continues. It has been going on. In training, you are faced with the best situation and various dangerous attacks.

“So I am very confident that when we face challenges during the Olympics-yes, they will come-we have faced them in the training to prepare for it, in our training many years ago, so I think we have We are fully prepared for this.”

Mexico rarely entered the penalty area during Monday’s defeat at Lentzler Stadium in Connecticut. There was an action in the 4th minute. Forward Stephany Mayor (Stephany Mayor) made a beautiful long pass. She created a chance in a left-footed shot, but Mayor’s attempt failed and became Naeher’s. Regular ground ball.

One minute later, Mexico got a free kick in the dangerous area above the penalty area. Nach (below) tried to knock the ball out, but the game was ruled offside. Mexico has rarely been threatened since.

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“I would say that the main thing for the last six is ​​patience, not forcing it,” Sauerbrunn said. “I don’t know if this is very precise, but when you consider the angle, the pass and the position you need to reach, I think it is a precise thing.”

However, it is arguable that those speaking on behalf of USWNT believe that defense is not exactly what happens in the last third of the court.

It is also the attacking midfielder Ross LaVell who made two consecutive passes on the offensive end in the 18th minute, or Dunn used a corner kick to rush back to defuse Mexico’s counterattack before Mexico reached the center line, or Dalkempel used At 15 yards in the 52nd minute, her left leg dexterously reached out before Mexico could turn it into something promising.

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The ability to maintain possession of the ball and continue to threaten the opponent’s goal is also an important part of American defense, just as a football team rarely allows the opponent to get the ball in a ground game. The defender is largely part of it. Dahlkemper’s talent to pass from the backcourt is one of the reasons she entered the starting lineup, and Dunn’s speed and creativity on the left make her the key to the offense.

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Her cross in the 11th minute against Mexico was only a few inches from the end line, which allowed Lloyd to score her 126th international goal with an overwhelming header. However, as the game escalates, Dunn needs to be able to weaken the opponent’s offense because she performed well in the 2019 World Cup group match against Sweden.

“I think they may be one of the best four-backs in the world,” midfielder Lindsey Holland told SN. “First of all, this is why we are able to do what we do in attack. I do think that the competition we get in training courses makes them so good, but it also makes us so good. This is how we are so good on the offensive end. Because we fight against them in training every day.”



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