U.S. Women's National Team
Yanks Fall Behind But Rally to Beat Netherlands 3-1
September 19, 2016
IN THE SECOND of two September friendlies, the United States women’s national team picked up a 3-1 win over the Netherlands on Sunday night in Atlanta.
The Americans got off to an ignominious start in the contest, conceding in the second minute of play. However, the U.S. equalized 10 minutes before the halftime break before picking up two more goals in the second half—via an own goal and an Allie Long tally—to find the victory.
Here are three thoughts on the contest.
U.S. EXPOSED DOWN THE LEFT…AGAIN
The American loss to Sweden in this summer’s Olympic quarterfinals came in penalties after a 1-1 draw through 120 minutes of play. While the Americans had plenty of chances to pick up the game-winner in that match, the goal they conceded to give the Swedes the early lead came down the left side.
Against the Netherlands on Sunday, the Dutch exposed the U.S. down the left again. Center back Julie Johnston went up to challenge for a header, but lost the battle and the ball went behind the American backline. Meghan Klingenberg, the American left back, was caught upfield on the play and couldn’t recover while Becky Sauerbrunn, Johnston’s partner in central defense, didn’t give herself enough depth to stay goalside of an onrushing Shanice van de Sanden.
The Dutch winger picked up the loose ball behind the American defense and finished past Alyssa Naeher to give the Netherlands the early lead.
ASN wrote about the U.S.’ potential problems down the left side before the Olympics began and the Americans clearly have not dealt with this issue. Klingenberg’s tendency to go forward, combined with the U.S.’ aggressive midfield play, leaves Sauerbrunn on an island. Good teams have now proven twice in the Americans’ last three games that they can find that gap and punish the U.S.
CARLI LLOYD BACK ON TRACK
Since scoring the game-winning goals in the 2008 and 2012 Olympic finals and notching a hat trick in the 2015 World Cup final, expectations for Carli Lloyd have become a bit unrealistic.
This summer, Lloyd scored the game-winner for the U.S. in their Olympic matches against New Zealand and France. Still, when the Americans exited the tournament early, many fans blamed Lloyd.
When she returned stateside, things didn’t get much easier as the midfielder faced further criticism for missing an NWSL match and for an apparent confrontation with a reporter.
Since then, Lloyd has gotten back on track. After a couple of solid matches for the Houston Dash the past few weeks, she scored a hat trick on Thursday against Thailand. On Sunday, she followed that up with a strong performance against the Netherlands.
Leading the U.S. to the win, Lloyd’s first-half equalizer came on a perfectly placed finish into the upper 90. She also assisted on Allie Long’s goal that sealed the contest late in the second half.
When Tobin Heath’s game is on—it’s on.
Against the Netherlands, Heath was exactly what the U.S. needed to recover from their poor start. From the early going, Heath was eager to contribute and produced chance after chance for the Americans.
She put Lloyd through on a great ball in the seventh minute of play, provided the assist on Lloyd’s goal later in the half, and found Alex Morgan in behind just before the halftime whistle.
Heath also helped create a gilt-edged opportunity in the second half that the Netherlands somehow managed to keep out of the goal. With some better finishing from her teammates, Heath could have finished with three or four assists.
The only downside was what happened next. With 30 minutes to play, head coach Jill Ellis moved Heath to left back, a troubling experiment that popped up on a few occasions prior to and during the Olympic games. Perhaps this move only happened because the U.S. needed to rest a number of players ahead of the final week of NWSL action, but Sunday’s performance proved even further that the U.S. is best with Heath on the attack.
John D. Halloran is an American Soccer Now columnist. Follow him on Twitter.