USWNT Road to the Final: Alex Morgan Overrated, Rapinoe Stardom, Dunn, Dahlkemper, Lavelle and Mewis Lead a Bright Future & Questions on Goalie Have Been Answered
The United States Women’s National Team is on their way to a third consecutive World Cup appearance in what has been another eventful tournament for them. The TV ratings are up. The jersey sales are up. The women are flying high as they will once again place in another World Cup. They are the only team to place in every one since it’s inception. Here is the laundry list of records they have broken so far in 2019…
- Most Goals in a Single World Cup Match
- Alex Morgan tied for most individual goals scored in a single game
- Scored the quickest 4 goals in WC history
- 1st Team to have 3 players score multiple goals in a game
- Carli Lloyd set record for Most Consecutive WC Games with a Goal
- Most Goals in Group Play in WC History
- Most Consecutive Wins in WC History
- Only Team to appear in 3 Consecutive Finals
- Only Team to Place in Every World Cup
- Only Team to score in first 12 mins of 5 straight matches
They are looking to set another record on Sunday against Netherlands. The USWNT needs just one goal to take the record for most goals in a single World Cup.
Needless to say, they have been lighting it up on the field and I once again have enjoyed every single minute of it. In watching them, I have several thoughts on the team and the state of them moving forward.
Alex Morgan is awesome. She is a hell of a player. However, she seems to get much of the media coverage and personally I think she has failed to live up to the hype. Last World Cup was dud. I thought ‘hey, all good. Maybe just a bad showing.” No biggie. I also thought part of it might have been the fact they were force feeding Abby Wambach in her farewell tour.
Take away game one against Thailand this World Cup where she went absolutely ape shit for 5 goals and 3 assists, it has been much of the same tune. She doesn’t make great runs and seems to spend more time on the ground than running.
I understand flopping is part of the sport. I am always for players working the refs and doing what they can for the advantage. However, it isn’t giving her an advantage. When her play just isn’t there, it becomes frustrating watching a star who’s best effort comes from milking contact plays and fouls.
I wish someone had a running clock for the amount of time spent on the ground like they did for Neymar for the Men’s World Cup last year. I would be willing to bet so far this cup, that total is over 25 minutes.
Because of the flopping and lack of production, I don’t know that she is top 5 on the team anymore. Looking at the roster, I would say obviously Megan Rapinoe who is the true star, Tobin Heath, Crystal Dunn, Abby Dahlkemper and Julie Ertz are all better players right now. I think the argument could be made right now for Sam Mewis. Meanwhile Rose Lavelle has been shaky, but has shown serious signs of promise.
To be fair here, the team is loaded with players who are starting on virtually any other team. They are head and shoulder the best women’s team in the world.
Before getting into the young crop, let’s talk about Megan Rapinoe.
Crafty Megan Rapinoe
I have been a massive Rapinoe fan since she bursted onto the scene in 2011 finishing her first World Cup with 8 starts, 4 goals and 2 assists. I just love her game and tenacity. She is a firecracker. It has been awesome to watch her evolve into a savvy vet and team leader.
Keep in mind she learned from the great Abby Wambach who learned from the great Mia Hamm. The branch of success keeps growing with the USWNT.
She is so smart and precise on the pitch. She knows when, where and how to cross setting up her teammates for layups, basically. She was the person who was setting up Abby Wambach on headers. Now she does the same for girls like Ertz and Morgan while getting hers.
After all the criticism from the White House comments, she shows up with 2 goals and just rubs everyone’s nose in it as she celebrated arms wide and body language saying “fuck you all, I am right here.”
That being said, there is no doubt who the ring leader of the show is. It is Rapinoe. I loved seeing her after the semi-final against England embracing Rose Lavelle who was far and away the player of that match. Her support for the younger women on the team is great to see. It is the same attitude that left an incredible legacy for Michelle Akers, Mia Hamm and Abby Wambach.
This is your show now, Megan. Keep it up!
The Young Guns – Crystal Dunn, Abby Dahlkemper, Rose Lavelle and Sam Mewis
All of them are 26 or younger which means barring injuries or families, we could see all 4 of them compete in another two World Cups, possibly 3.
Dunn has been the unsung hero of the Women this year. She has patrolled the sideline better than anyone which included some tough matchups like France and England. Despite not being the biggest, she plays like a pitbull. She keeps everything in front and balances her style very well, knowing when to attack and when let her opponent make the first move and she counters.
Dahlkemper has been great in the middle of the defense for the US in a year where Becky Sauerbrunn has struggled and been out of position at times. Overall, despite facing players like Ellen White of England, she has been exceptional limiting the opposition from creating opportunities near the net.
Rose, oh little Rose. In her debut, there were flashes of monumental potential, but she seemed antsy and unsure of where to go despite her two goals. She looked lost at times. That has been a good chunk of her story for much of the tournament. In the matchup against England, that was her coming out party. She is fast and she has got a damn boot on her. I love that they have someone taking chances from outside the box because you don’t see that too often in the Women’s game. Despite not scoring a goal, she had some beauties to set up potential goals in a time when her team needed her most. No Rapinoe. Heath was held in check. Morgan was busy on the ground. She alleviated me of all doubt in her game. She was hustling all over the field both offensively and defensively. I can’t wait to watch her in the final and years to come.
Mewis has been sound as they come. She plays physical which is a perfect opposition for Lavelle. As cliché as it is, thunder and lighting. Standing at a solid 6’0, good luck marking her. She does very well anticipating the defense and making the right pass. She’s not very flashy and I don’t think she will stand out on the stat sheet in most games. It is what she does off the ball both offensively and defensively. I also love her calm and collected attitude. Also her size automatically makes her a nightmare matchup.
Life After Solo Looks Pretty Good
After Hope Solo was infamously ran off from the USWNT for conduct, it was a big hit for the US. If you include the arena of Men and Women’s soccer together, Solo may have been pound for pound the best Goalie in the world.
Don’t take that out of context saying if she played the men that she would dominate. It is said in much of the same breath if you’re comparing a welterweight to a heavyweight in boxing.
Obviously, losing someone like her is always concerning because she could and would still be in the goal if she was on the roster. But, shit happens.
So far this cup, we haven’t seen Alyssa Naeher tested because the US has been great on their back line and keeping opponents away from the box until England.
The question has been answered, Naeher is absolutely for real.
Against England, there were three massive saves by her throughout the game that should have told you everything you need to know.
Starting with the most obvious, it wasn’t the best kick, but stopping a PK is always huge. In fact, it was the first regulation PK stopped in US Women’s World Cup history. She guessed right and made the save.
The second was a play in which the box was crowded and Ellen White attempted to volley it over her own head and Naeher had the wherewithal to know where she was in the box, know who was around her, grab the ball and keep the ball from crossing the line. It was fucking brilliant.
The last was a dinger that was headed for the upper right 90 from deep and she leaped getting finger tips on it saving another potential goal for England. Questions answered.
One More Match
The team is set to take on Netherlands in the final. Bring it home ladies! Once again, it has been a privilege watching you take the field in another memorable World Cup.