Archive for March 7, 2017
The U.S. women’s national soccer team does not play any match of significance until late 2018, when the team has to qualify for the next Women’s World Cup.
As such, a lot can happen in the years since a World Cup, even an event such as a dominating triumph by the United States against a good Japanese team.
But in this evening’s She Believes Cup, the Americans are showing that there is about to be a top-to-bottom rebuild of the side.
And this is above and beyond what’s already happened:
- Retirements. A lot of marquee names have retired since the end of the 2015 Women’s World Cup — Boxx, Rampone, Wambach. Decisions are going to have to be made on a few more before the cycle is complete.
- Enormous changes in the feeder system. When Lindsey Horan was being considered for a 2015 World Cup roster spot, it was impressed upon her that she needed to be playing in the U.S. domestic league instead of the club she signed with out of high school, Paris-St. Germain. But now a lot of European clubs are poaching American talent, diminishing the profile of the National Women’s Soccer League.
- Defense. Last World Cup, the story of the U.S. team was the defense. Julie Johnston, Becky Sauerbrunn, Ali Krieger, and Meghan Klingenberg in front of Hope Solo were absolute stalwarts in front of goal. But with the U.S. going to a three-back, the extra space was exposed (and how!) by the French team tonight.
- It’s a young woman’s game. The U.S. women’s national team has been at its best when it has gotten young and fearless players into the side. Think of a 19-year-old Mia Hamm at the 1991 World Cup. Or the teenage prodigy Mallory Pugh last year. At a World Cup or at an Olympics, there is no substitute for the speed that young players can bring to a national team.
So, where does this wounded U.S. side go from here? I think the future is extremely uncertain, given the fact that major stars have abandoned the American domestic league (albeit some of these agreements are temporary), and that there is still every thought that the players could go on strike for better pay.
Problem is, they’re now looking up at France — winners of the 2017 She Believes Cup and, as it happens, host of the 2019 Women’s World Cup.