From First to Worst: US End 2017 SheBelieves On the Bottom

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On paper, Tuesday night’s match-up between the United States and France appeared to suggest that the game would be close, with two of the top teams in the world facing off for the SheBelieves title. But instead, what transpired at RFK stadium in Washington, D.C. was anything but close.

From the opening kickoff, France controlled the game and never let up. It would take just over ten minutes for the French to take a two-nothing lead and establish a stronghold on at the top of the table that would inevitably prove impossible for the US to break down. The first strike came in the 8’ of the match, when a bad first-touch from Morgan Brian on a quick restart led to a breakaway by France’s Eugénie Le Sommer. US goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher was forced to come out and ultimately tripped Le Sommer right in front of the goal box, which gave France a penalty. Naeher received a yellow card and France sent Camile Abily to the spot, where she deposited the penalty kick to give France the early 1-0 lead.

Just one minute later, French defender Wendie Renard played a long ball over the US backline and Le Sommer beat Allie Long to double the French lead. Both teams settled in after that, with neither team scoring again before the half. The best chance of the game for the US came in the 24’ when midfielder Tobin Heath’s free kick bounced off of the wet grass and over everyone’s heads. The ball was eventually cleared off of the line by midfielder Amandine Henry of France.

The second half was a little more even with neither team garnering any good chances on goal. Still, Abily would net her second goal of the game in the 63’, ultimately putting the game out of reach for the Americans. Another defensive blunder by the US allowed Abily to slot home Eve Perisset’s cross, securing the trophy for France head coach Olivier Echouafni’s side.

United States head coach Jill Ellis went with the three-back of Becky Sauerbrunn, Allie Long and Casey Short for the second time in the tournament, after starting them in game one against Germany, and it did not go well. Echouafni lined up three attacking players along the backline of the United States, placing more pressure on the three back than ever before.

“They put three pacy players up across out backline. So yeah, it was different in terms of what I expected,” Ellis said. “It was obviously the most pressure we’ve had to deal with in terms of pace of pressure and how fast it was coming. They basically matched three up on our three in terms of us trying to play out. Now the adjustment we make is trying to get more players down to the ball to be able to find those outlets.”

The three back has been something that Ellis has been working on since late October 2016. She has shown commitment to playing Allie Long at center back and Becky Sauerbrunn out wide, despite those not being their natural positions.

“We are all kind of playing in new positions,” Sauerbrunn added. “We are all considered center backs, but Allie hasn’t played center back before, Casey [Short] can be a center back or left back when she plays. There is going to be a learning curve and you’re going to make mistakes and we’re going to build chemistry.”

With the loss on Tuesday night, the United States finished in fourth place, going from champions of last year’s tournament to last place this year. This was the first time since February 2000 that the US lost two consecutive home matches.

“It’s disappointing. I mean we came in fourth place, we scored one goal,” US captain Carli Lloyd said after the game. “I think that we’ve got some great players on this team, we obviously want to win, but I think long gone are the days of always winning.”

One thought on “From First to Worst: US End 2017 SheBelieves On the Bottom

  1. “They put three pacy players up across out backline. So yeah, it was different in terms of what I expected,” Ellis said.
    Seriously?? What did Jill Ellis expect instead? To play against mannequins? Yes, the French players were really fast, they were overrunning our defenders all the time. And what did she do to “fix” it? She subbed out Press, the only player faster than any one else on the field for both teams. That was running back and forth to help the defenders. The player thanks to whom, US got the only victory and goal the entire tournament. For how long should we, but most of all, our wonderful players, suffer her incompetence and mediocrity? She has done nothing but destroy this team from day 1. JE was lucky, she didn’t have enough time, prior to the World Cup 2015, to have done enough damage to this team, and that’s why they won. And the best example of this is the result of the Olympics in Rio. The She Believes Cup 2017 games and results showed one more time what she has done to this team, she is a genius, but a genius of destruction. How could you turn the best team in the world into such a mess in such a short time? Having the best defense in the world and turning it into nonexistent? For how long is she going to hide behind the alibi of “experimenting”??? How could you experiment, using the same ingredients and variables over and over again and expect a different result at the end??? Did she ever try to have Press and Morgan up top for even a minute during this She Believes Cup? So how is it experimenting when you play the same group of players every time and don’t mix them up at all? Why does she need so badly to turn Long into a Center Back when she has the best Center Back on the bench??? None of the players is sure about what position they will play in the next game. She is just messing with everything and everyone’s game and confidence, and not because she is experimenting, but because she has no clue about football. A decathlon athlete is good at many sports/ disciplines but they don’t excel in any of them and if she is trying to turn every single player in her team to play at any position on the field the result would be what we saw against France at the final game of She Believes Cup. You have to stick with what you are best at. Her stubbornness in purposely failing is scary. I am mad at whoever chose JE as head coach. She doesn’t have the decency to resign, she should be at least embarrassed and ashamed at what she has done, but unfortunately she is not. She is hurting this sport more than anyone can imagine. Fans, who fill up the stadiums would turn their back to Women’s Soccer because it’s painful and exhausting to watch . It hurts looking at those talented girls, the best in the world, being “ridiculed” by her stupid decisions and her “tactics”. It hurts watching them work so hard for only to be destroyed on the field by lesser teams. Every team has at least a Plan A when they go on the pitch, this team, thanks to JE, doesn’t even have that anymore, let alone a Plan B or C. What hurts me the most is that she is wasting the best years of some of the greatest talents ever, like Heath, Press, Morgan, Johnston, Krieger, Brian, Sauerbrunn etc, etc, etc. The embarrassment of The She Believes Cup 2017 would be nothing compared to the World Cup in 2019, if she will still be there, it will be a complete disaster. I don’t think they will be able to win a single game in the group. No one is “afraid” of US WNT anymore, thanks to JE. And that is a pity because this team, with these players should be a top contender to win any tournament they enter, but only if they had a REAL coach. Something needs to be done right now because 2019 is not far enough to repair all the damage she has done to this team. Those players deserve much much better. I miss Pia so much. And they fired Sermanni to hire the joke that is JE?!?!

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