U.S. Women's National Team
U.S. Crushes Guatemala 5-0 In Second WC Qualifier
October 18, 2014
Take a bow, Tobin HeathEven though the United States was only up 1-0 at the half, it was obvious from the first minutes of the game that Heath was ready to play and would make a big impact on the match. Not only did Heath score twice—the first coming from a bit of grit and the second on an audacious backheel—but she seemed to be playing with a chip on her shoulder after being left out of the starting XI in the U.S.’s World Cup qualifying opener on Wednesday night against Trinidad and Tobago Heath’s impact came as much from her creativity on the wing as from her work in front of the net and, after a series of underwhelming recent performances, she finally looked ready to reclaim her spot in the lineup.
Why the slow start?Although the U.S. did finish with a 5-0 win and utterly dominated the run of play once again, the fact that the scoreline was only 1-0 after 45 minutes of play won’t allay the fears of many fans that the team has not progressed under head coach Jill Ellis.
The fact that both Trinidad and Tobago and Guatemala packed up to 10 players behind the ball did not make things easy. It could also be that many CONCACAF teams are finally starting to close the gap with the U.S.
Many fans, however, remain convinced that the team’s problems are a result of the 4-3-3 formation. The bonus of the setup is that the U.S. has been getting plenty of good wide play and long spells of possession. The downside is that without two center forwards, it is more difficult to keep opposing center backs occupied and scoring chances for the lone forward in the 4-3-3 are harder to come by.
Some of the U.S.’s struggles may simply be growing pains as the U.S. looks to play a more sophisticated and possession-oriented attack, but the fact that the U.S. has struggled to score early and often against these CONCACAF minnows means that the questions will continue to be asked.
Took about 135 minutes longer than expected, but #USWNT finally finding net in numbers. 4-0 after two goals in two minutes.— Jeff Kassouf (@JeffKassouf) October 18, 2014
Megan Rapinoe back on trackAfter a poor performance on Wednesday night, Rapinoe was back in her groove on Friday, creating the majority of the U.S.’s most dangerous opportunities. She combined particularly well with Heath on the left side of the U.S. attack and finished the match with a goal and an assist—as well as being instrumental in the build-up on two of the U.S.’s three other goals. She also won Woman of the Match honors—which she clearly deserved.
Hack a ShaqOne of the more disturbing aspects of Friday night’s match was the disastrous performance of the officiating crew. It was obvious right from the opening whistle that Guatemala’s strategy was to put a body on U.S. attackers at any chance possible and, with the center official apparently unwilling to issue cautions, the hard fouls only got worse as the game continued. (The match’s sole yellow card was actually issued to the U.S.’s Sydney Leroux.) Even before Alex Morgan was injured, she was being knocked around consistently, including one takedown on a corner kick that appeared to be a clear penalty. And while the contact that caused Morgan’s injury appeared to be as much accidental as intentional, Morgan was incorrectly judged to be offsides before the contact even occurred (she will have a scan on Saturday to determine the extent of the injury).
Throughout the game, a series of phantom fouls, incorrect calls on corner kicks, and a poor understanding of the offside rule clearly frustrated players on both teams.
Once, in the second half, Heath got in behind the Guatemalan defense on the dribble. Her attempted cross was blocked and when it bounced straight back to her, she was ruled to be offside on her own cross.
Here's a look at Alex Morgan's latest ankle injury. The picture speaks for itself: that's a major sprain, at least. pic.twitter.com/BmX88G38vO— Liviu Bird (@liviubird) October 18, 2014