By CAITLIN MURRAY
The recent troubles of the U.S. Women’s National Team may not be forgotten, but after winning the Algarve Cup on Wednesday, perhaps they will be forgiven.
In the face of the same France side that ripped apart the U.S.’s midfield just a month ago, the Americans bounced back when it counted to win their 10th Algarve Cup title since the tournament started in 1994, 2-0.
Helped by big saves from Hope Solo, goals from Julie Johnston and Christen Press netted the exact opposite result of last month’s meeting. The match was an important one, not just because it was the Algarve Cup final, but because France is the toughest opponent on the schedule for the Americans before this summer’s World Cup.
“We’re three months out and I think we’re peaking at the right time,” Solo told EuroSport after the whistle. “We’re not there yet. We have a lot of work to be done.”
Press’ goal was beautiful display of individual brilliance just before the half. Intercepting the ball at the center line, she weaved and cut her way through France’s entire back line and finished with a well-placed ball tucked just inside the far post.
Johnston scored her first international goal in the 8th minute on a set piece, rising up over France’s defense to head a Lauren Holiday free kick in, thanks to lackadaisical marking in the box.
The U.S. nearly conceded a clean sheet 10 minutes before the whistle when defender Meghan Klingenberg dragged down Marie-Laure Delie in the box, but Solo read Amandine Henry’s kick from the spot the entire way and knocked it aside.
Solo preserved the U.S. lead in the 71st minute by tipping away a dangerous cross-turned-shot — a floater that looked similar to one France scored against the U.S. a month ago.
Press’ brilliant 60-yard solo run for a goal seemed to exemplify the matchup between these two sides on the day. France looked flat, slow to react and perhaps fatigued from the compacted schedule of the tournament that saw teams play four matches in one week. The slick passes they used to dismantle the Americans last month so well were hard to come by and the Americans looked eager to force a win.
France rolled past the USWNT in February, 2-0, and exposed glaring weaknesses in the American side as coach Jill Ellis suffered her second loss on the job, which upped the ante for Wednesday’s final.
Though the Algarve Cup final was widely viewed as a rematch of last month’s friendly, France coach Philippe Bergeroo fielded a noticeably less experienced squad. Star striker Louisa Necib was out injured, as was captain center back Wendie Renard. Forward Elodie Thomis and center back Laura Georges, both veterans and strong players, sat on the bench.
In this go round, the U.S. was the side that held control and looked cohesive, working the ball through the midfield and using width to their advantage. France out-shot the Americans 11-to-5, but often resorted to weak chances from outside the penalty area.
The U.S. went into the match as a question mark. Two days ago, the Americans settled for a scoreless draw against lightweight Iceland. The match was not broadcast on TV due to infrastructure issues, but Iceland coach Frey Alexandersson was critical of the USWNT’s performance.
“If this was my team I would be very unhappy,” he told FOX Sports, adding that the U.S. struggled to control the midfield despite playing a team ranked some 20 spots lower in FIFA’s world rankings.
The Americans will return to action on April 4 when they face New Zealand in a friendly at Busch Stadium in St. Louis.
See Press’ goal below:
Great to see new faces breaking and to know US still producing talent. Congrats USWNT!
The German Women’s Team
Not impressed by your 4-2 loss earlier in the tournament, either. So there’s that.
both teams looked tired, and the play from both teams revealed that I thought.
congrats to the women, and to Ellis. Lloyd on the outside still doesn’t compute to me, and Brian played better today but still, Lloyd inside and Rapinoe back outside and this team becomes that much better. Holiday was flat out gassed with at least 10-12 minutes to go
Lloyd is a defensive liability wherever she is on the field and doesn’t add much to a possession game. It’s basically rush forward and bombs away. I don’t know if Lloyd’s game is the result of Abby-ball or a contributor to it, but the route 1 long ball suited Lloyd’s game just fine, the opportunistic run on to a loose ball. It can be exciting to watch, but it isn’t good football. With Abby spending more and more time on the bench and the build-up being played through Holiday or Brian, it’s hard to see Lloyd being effective in the middle.
Lloyd’s best in the middle. she looked great playing in there and has partnered well with Holiday for years, and in this tournament. Brian is getting the look to see if she can displace the vet…Lloyd, and Ellis is giving the younger one every possible chance. Brian only played one good game in this oturnament, today against France, but struggled with giveaways the rest of the tournament.
anyway, it sounds to me like you didn’t watch all the games, or if you did you don’t understand what you see. certainly you have an agenda to repeat over and over about Lloyd being a route 1 player, which is plain BS, and that she cannot play a possession game or is a defensive liability…all ridiculous claims. In fact, today the US team was horrible in possession and Lloyd was barely on the ball at all, lost outside.
your name is funny, I’ll give you that
I await your reply
when you don’t have a valid point or argument, attack the person. It’s a neat little rhetorical trick that works often enough, but is, in fact, a logical fallacy. You and I just disagree. No need to get all pissy about it. There’s my response.
Encouraging result. If they put some more together then I’ll think about taking my finger off the ” “panic” button.
today’s dumb penalty play by Klins should tell you a lot about Ellis as a coach… Ellis thinks she can play Klins at RB, LB and mid…. breaking news, she aint that good.
We beat a team without it’s two best, most experienced centerbacks…don’t think we would have scored either goal if they were in.
Much better defense though, and the team is certainly better with Abby coming in off the bench.
We should give the trophy back.
Congratz! team needed this win! and nice goal!
While it may seem churlish to criticize a team after a 2-0 win top take a top tournament, the US was still lacking in many areas. They still need a lot of work in retaining possession, gave away the ball too easily and too often and the penalty given up was unnecessary and a very stupid play. Their decision making is too often faulty. The difference was their defense was solid, well organized and France had very few decent chances and Solo is clearly a great GK. Also, the US did a good job of finishing when they had a chance.
Nothing churlish about it…if they relax after winning against a short-handed team that wasn’t playing its best, they’re gonna be in serious trouble in the WC.
I sure do love me some Christen Press. She exploded past that centerback. What amazing acceleration she has. That was really quite imPRESSive, don’t you think??
I used to watch Christen Press at Stanford and she was darn good, but she never quite impressed like Kelley O’Hara, who was straight baller! I never really understood why O’Hara was converted to be a defensive back at the national team level while Press broke through as a forward.
The thing about Press that I realized was she had deceptive speed. Something about her gait makes her look slow and I think defenders misjudge her speed. You kind of see that in the video where the defenders don’t close down and think they have more time to cut off her angle and then she’s by them and into space.
Wow, Christen Press! Not only are we the top team (arguably, of course) but the USWNT has to be the most beautiful.
haha really, you dont think so?
It’s just irrelevant and an awkward thing to announce in the comments section of an article that is about a great goal she scored to win a game, not about her makeup tips. Geez.
Right? If a woman works her socks off for 20 years and does something incredible the response shouldn’t be “she’s purdy.”
In his (or her) defense, he said they’re the top team AND the most beautiful. I actually don’t see what’s wrong with that. He’s not downplaying their skill. He’s celebrating their skill AND their beauty. Is it so awful to appreciate esthetic beauty along with soccer skill? I don’t get why anyone has a problem with that.
The problem is that it gets brought up all the time in women’s sports and (almost) never in men’s.
I say almost because, c’mon, olivier giroud and jermaine jones are objectively gorgeous human beings.
Not completely true, in my opintion. Fans comment on team kits, dude’s hair all the time or even what coaches wear on the sidelines. Steven Cohen used to razz Brazilian Ronaldo for eating all the pies. Men in Blazers make fun of Harry Redknapp’s belly or Christiano’s movie star looks. If he’s being crass or offensive, sure it’s not cool, but simple appreciation of beauty is not something we should censor or censure, in my opinion.
Oh I’ll censure. I’ll censure like mad.
“Simple appreciation of beauty” is often a means to reduce a woman to her looks.
Yeah there are the odd examples of men’s features being commented on.
Meanwhile there are probably 10 players on the uswnt alone who are regularly “appreciated.”
Just stick to the soccer, better for all.
Ugh, too much political correctness, IMO. I think it’s sad that people can’t appreciate a beautiful woman or man without other people getting upset about it. At this point, I think some people are just looking to take offense.
I’m with Tom on this.
As long as these kinds of comments stay positive and don’t get crude, I don’t see anything wrong with it.
I was going to say the same thing.
It’s only human to want to point out that she’s pretty and highly skilled.
People have been finding backhanded ways of saying it about Beckham for years.
Agree with Tom on this. Ridiculous to get fired up over someone appreciating a player’s beauty. He said nothing vulgar or inappropriate. Move on internet police
TomG, why do we need to celebrate their beauty? What does that have to do with the article? What does that have to do with their athletic abilities? What does that have to do with SBISoccer? These are athletes and this is a soccer web site, not TMZ.
If the players don’t want to be appreciated for their beauty or looked at as sex symbols, then they shouldn’t wear makeup during games. They shouldn’t advertise for their sponsors in sports bras and tight clothes. They shouldn’t pose in SI swimsuit edition or ESPN Mag the Body Issue. Can’t have it both ways folks.
Press has got some serious game. And Johnston may just be working her way into a starting gig for WC. But we shouldn’t get too excited about this win. France sat half their starting lineup.
Great job by the USWNT to get the result. Too many US fans seem to be living in the past, and assuming we should bulldoze everybody in sight. Fact is, the quality of opposition in the global game has gone WAY up in the last 15 years. Fans should get used to the idea that pragmatic wins are still wins against the best teams, and in the future these will probably be the only kinds of wins you should expect against elite competition.
Ellis has a really tough job. She is dealing with a wildly popular and historically successful group of veterans (who aren’t exactly interested in being phased out just yet), and trying to infuse new talent in a way the creates a side that is ready-to-win in the summer of 2015. Winning the Algarve cup guarantees absolutely nothing, but I think it’s a great statement about the “ceiling” for this group, and a far better place to be than we were at the previous turn, when we were finishing 7th and shipping 5 goals against the likes of Denmark. Bravo to the coach and side for this achievement, and here’s hoping they can build on it.
The only problem I have with Ellis is that they fired a much more successful and progressive manager in Sermanni for woefully insufficient cause and hire Ellis who has a much less impressive resume and has been less successful with this team and is much less tactically advanced.
Difference of opinion, I suppose… I just fail to see how Ellis has been less successful with this team. Whatever Sermanni was doing, we had obviously not seen the results yet.
really good job by Press to take advantage of really bad error by that stepping centerback