The nice thing about the US holding the same scoreline in all of their group games is that it helps with assessing the lineup. Having watched all of the Group B games (missed one from Group A, sadly), I’ve got a sense of how the US opponents stack up against one another. Panama definitely looked better than the others, and they didn’t make things easy on the US in Tuesday’s game.
So let’s break things down.
1-Bryane Heaberlin; 17- Olivia Brannon, 3-Cari Roccaro, 5-Kassey Kallman (capt), 19-Stephanie Amack; 16-Sarah Killion (10-Mandy Laddish, 46), 12-Vanessa DiBernardo, 8-Julie Johnston (15-Samantha Mewis, 56); 13-Micaela Capelle, 11-Lindsey Horan (20-Maya Hayes, 46), 7-Kealia Ohai
Subs not used: 18-Abby Smith, ; 4-Crystal Dunn, 2-Mollie Pathman, 6-Morgan Brian, 14-Katie Stengel, 9-Chioma Ubogagu
More DiBernardo? Check. Less Brian? Check. Trying new things and playing better soccer? Check, check. Capelle? Oh man, check. Also, Amack happened. And Swanson left Pathman off, meaning we got to see someone else with the armband (Kallman, who’s been playing the full 90 all through everything this year).
The US played better against Panama than they did in their previous two games. They definitely brought a different energy to the field – perhaps in part as a response to Panama’s energy, but probably also owing to the lineup changes. There was sweet symmetry to the goalscoring, too:
USA – Micaela Capelle
USA – Vanessa DiBernardo
USA – Julie Johnston (Maya Hayes)
USA – Maya Hayes (Samantha Mewis)
USA – Samantha Mewis (Vanessa DiBernardo)
USA – Maya Hayes (Micaela Capelle)
And somehow, that’s made even better given how many shots golden girl Lindsey Horan botched in her 45 minutes of play. It was probably just an off night for her, but things definitely changed on the field once she wasn’t the go-to player. The Americans really pulled it together in the second half. The U-20s are making progress, something we didn’t really see from them last cycle.
Rather than make a wishlist or predictions for the game against Mexico, I’d like to look at an ideal lineup based off the current roster. Perhaps even with some potential subs (although that’s a tricky one, since I’m not a fan of stock subbing).
Bryane Heaberlin; Olivia Brannon, Cari Roccaro, Kassey Kallman (capt), Stephanie Amack; Mandy Laddish, Vanessa DiBernardo, Samantha Mewis; Julie Johnston, Micaela Capelle, Maya Hayes.
- I don’t really have a preference one way or another on my GK options, but building consistency is a good idea. It worked with Henninger and it worked with Naeher. If the US has any chance of facing PKs, I would want someone that I have seen be competent when facing that before.
- I’d like to see this defense handle another threat. Panama was a good start, so why not try them against Mexico? Pathman hasn’t been amazing this tournament, and the only time I notice Dunn is when she isn’t getting back on the defense after an attack.
- Rather than mess with the formation, I figured it’s time to relocate Johnston. Mewis looked good in the second half against Panama, and I think part of that was the change of energy and lineup–but Johnston also has her merits. And I would say let DiBernardo start again, because I’m convinced she brings something positive to the field that we aren’t getting from anyone else right now. So I pushed Johnston forward and left Laddish in. Killion didn’t make an impression on me, and Laddish is more consistent/stable than Brian.
- Ignoring the scorelines (because we can), I think the front line is where the US needs the most change. Especially since they’re going up against Mexico’s Santiago. Capelle was a good choice last game, clearly. Ohai was decent in the first half, but I do think Johnston should stay on the field (just somewhere different), and Hayes will give the US the speed to keep up with Mexico’s determination and energy.
- …which means that, yes, Ohai is on my subbing list, along with Stengel and Brian. Ohai and Stengel can change the attack if any of the starting trio run into finishing issues (like Horan had), and Brian… well, you can’t bench Brian forever. So I’m willing to see whether she’s got anything to add in the second half.
By the way, if it were at all an option, I’d have Dahlkemper in my lineup. And wearing the armband. But she’s not on the roster, so I’ll just have to deal.