2015 Algarve Cup
U.S. Women Get Revenge on France, Win Algarve Cup
Despite an inconsistent run of form, the United States women's national team defeated France 2-0 on Wednesday to claim the 2015 Algarve Cup. John D. Halloran breaks down the action here.
BY John D. Halloran PostedFOR A TEAM WIDELY considered to be a favorite to win the 2015 World Cup this summer, things couldn’t have been much worse for the United States women’s national team heading into Wednesday’s Algarve Cup final against France. Yes, the team was set to play in the tournament final, but in recent months had also been playing a sloppy, uninspired brand of soccer that led to losses to Brazil and France and ties against China and Iceland. But on Wednesday night in Portugal, head coach Jill Ellis and U.S. fans were able to let out a collective sigh of relief, as the Americans beat France 2-0 to capture a record 10th Algarve Cup championship. The win came on the back of first-half goals from Julie Johnston and Christen Press. Here are five thoughts on the match.
March 11, 2015
March 11, 2015
1. Julie Johnston ShinedWith Christie Rampone and Whitney Engen out injured, fourth-choice center back Julie Johnston started three of the U.S.’s four matches in Portugal. Johnston played well throughout the competition, but she saved her best for last. In the final, Johnston opened the scoring for the U.S., heading in a Lauren Holiday free kick to give the Americans a dream start in the seventh minute of play. In addition to the goal, though less obvious, was Johnston’s solid defensive effort all game long. Throughout the match, Johnston was strong in the air, kept the game in front of her, and made a number of strong tackles. Most impressive, however, was her work cleaning up messes. On two separate occasions in the first half Johnston’s awareness saved the U.S. when she knocked away second chances—one off a poor clearance from Meghan Klingenberg; the other a rebound given up by Hope Solo. The only problem now is a selection headache for Ellis, as the calls for Johnston to become a regular starter in the U.S. back line have already begun.
How do you keep Julie Johnston out of the US lineup once the World Cup starts?— Grant Wahl (@GrantWahl) March 11, 2015
2. Winning Without WambachAlthough Abby Wambach did make an appearance on Wednesday, it did not come until the 85th minute of play and by that time the result was in the bag. Instead of Wambach, Ellis started Amy Rodriguez up top alongside Alex Morgan. Rodriguez didn’t exactly make a case for continued starts, but she did work hard, showed for the ball well, and demonstrated what the U.S. has been missing when Wambach starts. While Wambach’s historic specialty has been her physical presence up top, her lack of mobility has become patently obvious in recent months, as well as her declining ability in the air. With other options available as targets on set pieces and the need for a more active presence up top, it is obvious the U.S. no longer needs Wambach in the Starting XI. While it was surprising to see how few minutes Leroux received in this tournament, it is clear that the U.S. is at its best with someone other than Wambach to partner Morgan at the forward position.
3. Curb Your EnthusiasmThere are a number of reasons that U.S. fans, while excited, need to keep this victory in perspective. First, no winner of the Algarve Cup has ever gone on to win the World Cup in the same year.
Brilliant effort from Press, but France seriously missing Georges (157 caps) and captain Renard in central defense. | France 0-2 U.S. | 44'— Liviu Bird (@liviubird) March 11, 2015