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USWNT struggles continue with Tournament of Nations loss to Australia

Photo by Joe Nicholson/USA Today Sports

The U.S. Women’s National Team made history in their 2017 Tournament of Nations opening match on Thursday night, but not of the positive type.

In Thursday’s tournament opener, the USWNT fell to a 1-0 loss at CenturyLink Field to Australia, which marks the team’s first ever loss to the Matildas. The loss marks the USWNT’s third-straight home loss to an opponent ranked in the top 10 of the FIFA rankings.

The game’s lone goal came in the 67th minute, and was the direct result of a mismanaged clearance on the edge of the penalty area by USWNT captain Becky Sauerbrunn. From there, Elise Kellond-Knight found Tameka Butt, who scored from close range.

Though the teams ended up virtually equal on shots and shots on goal — 12 shots, three on goal, to the U.S. and 11, four on goal, to Australia — the match was mostly dominated by the visitors. The reigning world champions, who featured in a more experimental team to start the match and then brought in its stars as substitutes, struggled for long stretches of the match to keep possession.

The match also saw defender Taylor Smith of the North Carolina Courage make her debut for the USWNT. The shift lasted 76 minutes, as she was switched out for Kelley O’Hara.

Following the loss, the USWNT returns to action on Sunday against Brazil for the second match of the competition.


  1. Jill Ellis needs to be gone. The team has looked absolutely terrible lately and some of her lineups have looked more questionable than Klinsmann’s ever did.

    It’s one thing if you play well and just get beat by a better team but when you see a listless team with no direction and no confidence it’s another thing altogether, especially as talented as our girls are.

    I was never sold on Ellis as the coach even as far back as the World Cup and I thought the team rose up and collectively overcame some really odd lineup decisions because the moment was huge, but I always thought that spoke to the quality of the players a lot more than the coach. Lately they’ve just looked lost.

    That’s a glaring, glaring red flag, and I’d make a change soonest.

    • Australia looked very competitive during the last World Cup and typically gives a pretty good account of themselves against anyone. As long as the U.S. is playing International friendlies, they may as well play top 10 teams. I think that Jill Ellis is not an imaginative coach. Even with the varsity in, goals scored to shots on goal average about 20 to 1 vs about 5 to 1 for EPL Teams. The team needs to be more productive in corner-kick and free-kick opportunities.

      Someone mentioned the coaches fascination with Allie Long. Everyone who has ever seen Allie
      play has made that observation. The best that could be said for her is that she could be a spot player coming in when the U S is behind and attempting to head the ball in, where she has scored
      all of her goals. In the open field she lacks skills to have any effectiveness, and has been directly responsible for goals scored against when she is on the back line. The conclusion by soccer buffs is that she must have something going with one of the coaches to get as much playing time as she does. However, as long as Jill is still with us, expect to see Allie out there.

      As for this year’s schedule, I think the U. S. would have been better off playing in the Algave Cup rather than embarrassing themselves at home. If you’re going to have a tournament at home, make sure there are enough lower teams so that you can at least score a few goals.

      • I do not get the Allie Long thing, never have.

        Ellis’ time has come and gone, enough already. All the lineups BS is an excellent lesson for those who constantly pine for giving new faces opportunities just to do so. There’s a balance, Ellis appears to have lost that

    • That seems to be happening too, but was not the case in this match (was fortunate to be there in person!). If not experimental, as the article suggests, the starting 11 was far short of full strength. Each of the five substitutions made (beginning around the 65th, I believe) brought traditional starters into the match. Consider also that Leroux, Ertz, and Krieger didn’t even play.

      Naeher never seemed comfortable and her distribution was atrocious. Defenders in a couple of situations did her no favors either, putting her under pressure with some questionable back passes. Thought Smith showed well in her first start and first cap…was one of the few bright spots. Ertz was sorely missed on the back line for her calmness on the ball and organization. Middle of park is a black hole without Lloyd.

      Frankly, once the starters saw the field, the game looked more like you would suspect. Had ample opportunities to equalize. If the game started with the team it ended with, US would have won comfortably, I believe.

      Question is…what is our goal for the tournament? If it is to win, then I would suggest we may have had a hubris of overconfidence. If it is to suss out the next generation, maybe we accomplished something? The subs would suggest the former…

    • I don’t follow the women’s game closely enough to know why the WNT is struggling so much lately, but this is why it was very dangerous to argue vigorously for equal pay on the grounds of “we actually win major tournaments”. I agree they should paid equally for many reasons, but anybody that follows women’s sports even tangentially knows women sports and treatment of women in most countries is far behind the US and therefore you would assume can make up ground much quicker than the US can improve. I see the WNT play whenever they are in my town, and generally support them, but the fragile masculinity in me can’t help but crack a wry smile when they lose

      • I know what you mean. It wasn’t even so much the whole “wins tournaments” thing as the notion they’d tried getting across that the men’s and women’s teams existed in the same bubble.

        Yeah, the USWNT were starting to get better attendance than the men for friendlies, but lest we forget the women also went two years traveling no farther than Canada to play any matches. The team is also marketed differently than the men. People were furious yesterday that none of the “big names” started. That’s who the teeny-boppers go to see, after all, not the “Taylor Smiths” of the world. What’s interesting is the new CBA allows more leeway for call-ups of “non-contracted” players, so you’ll see even more of this.

        As far as the match goes, only caught the last 40 or so minutes, but a lot of the same old stuff. What is this fascination with Allie Long? Only Pinoe looked dangerous. That’s scary considering she’s 32 and had how many ACL tears? Just really mediocre. Australia’s a good side, but honestly, I’ve seen them play better than that. Frightening that that was more than enough to take down the U.S.

        I do wonder if winning in 2015 actually long-term will hurt the U.S. far more than it will help. It’s trended downward ever since.

        Anyone watching the Women’s Euros? Some of the also-ran sides in Europe are really starting to blossom. France almost missed qualifying for the knockout rounds if not for a late free kick.

        Meanwhile, the USWNT are looking at possibly finishing last in both tourneys they host in 2017.

    • Yeah, except that Australia shouldn’t be “catching up to” the US. Both Australia and the US got serious about the women’s game around the same time (the 1980s) and both countries have funded their women’s programs generously (at least compared to more established European and Latin American soccer nations). The technical development of the US and Australian women should be following the same trajectory.

      Australia isn’t behind in women’s soccer. Australia’s national team is older than the USWNT. Australia’s pro league is older than the current US women’s pro league. If anything, the US should be extending their talent gap over Australia as our women’s pro women’s soccer infrastructure “catches up” to Australia.

  2. I think Jill Ellis needs to take these games a little more seriously……We are losing games that we would never lose before. If US Soccer is going to advertise these games as a big deal then they should be treated like them. Like you state in the post, the US was outplayed almost all over the field. For the majority of the match we were not dangerous at all.
    This should not be happening.


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