Olympic Soccer Live: U.S. Women’s Team vs. Netherlands

Olympic Soccer Live: U.S. Women’s Team vs. Netherlands
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Olympic Soccer Live: U.S. Women’s Team vs. Netherlands

Olympic Soccer Live: U.S. Women’s Team vs. Netherlands

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The American formation drops both the best player of the World Cup final against the Netherlands (Rose Lavelle) and the exceptional player of this tournament (Megan Rapinoe). A front line from Tobin Heath-Carli Lloyd-Lynn Williams is supported by a midfielder from Sam Mewis-Julie Ertz-Lindsey Horan.

They are definitely… choices.

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The USA-Netherlands match is one of four women’s quarter-finals today. Two have started: Canada and Brazil played a scoreless first half in Rifu, and Australia lead Great Britain on an Alanna Kennedy first half goal in Kashima. Host Japan and Sweden will later play Saitama.

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The last time I saw these two teams face off was during the 2019 World Cup final in Lyon, France. It was one of the most touching stadium environments I have ever been in, with a packed crowd at the end chanting the victorious Americans “for equal pay!” We’ll see a much different atmosphere tonight in Yokohama, where a fan ban will leave the sprawling booths mostly silent.

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USA coach Vlatko Andonovski during the team's game against Sweden.
Credit…Doug Mills / The New York Times

The United States was still talking about tactics the day before the game against the Netherlands. Not so much forward, but backward.

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Coach Vlatko Andonovski’s decision to employ a more defensive, more conservative game plan in the Americans’ third group game against Australia sparked a lot of discontent, inside and outside of the team. team.

Andonovski, rightly and not for the first time, noted that the game plan worked: The United States have not allowed any goals, or even more than one or two real chances, against Australia and are came out with the draw they needed to advance to the quarter-finals. .

“It’s not easy, and sometimes we have to sacrifice some of the things we believe in or worked on to execute the game plan,” Andonovski said. “It’s not something we’ve done in previous games. But that was the game plan, and I feel like we executed it well.

The idea of ​​sitting down and fending off attacks and making a draw, rather than directing the pace of the game and staying in the spotlight, was not universally popular. Forward Alex Morgan repeatedly referred to “a tactical decision by Vlatko” when asked about the game plan after the game, and defender Becky Sauerbrunn dismissed the performance as “disciplined, professional – which we had to do “.

On Thursday, as criticism of the tactic continued on social media – the preferred forum for indignant and overheated discussions related to the U.S. squad – the issue returned to the agenda during a call with two players. . Both have made it clear that they would be happy to receive further instructions for their game against the Dutch.

“The tactics we’ve been given is obviously what we have to execute,” said defender Crystal Dunn. “We trust our staff to put us in a position to execute.”

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But Dunn and forward Christen Press have also made it clear that players are eager to get back to driving with the teams instead of pushing them away, waiting for them.

“We know what type of team we are,” Press said. “We know what kind of offense we are. We have a way of playing, we have a way of scoring and it’s been a success for years.

“At the end of the day,” she added, “when the team is at their best, we are relentless and deadly.”

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Shanice van de Sanden of the Netherlands celebrated after scoring against China.
Credit…Phil Noble / Reuters

The Netherlands were the most successful team in the Olympic tournament, scoring 21 goals in three games.

“They believe in their system,” US coach Vlatko Andonovski said of the Netherlands. “They believe in what they do. They are sometimes very rigid, which makes them who they are, no matter how good they are. Because their system works, and they’ve shown it time and time again in their games.

But that rigidity may give the United States a hint of what to look for on Friday night, and what it has seen so far may offer a silver lining. Although the Dutch were by far the most powerful offense on the pitch, they have also allowed eight goals – by far the most of eight teams in the round of 16.

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But first, he has to put his own team on the right track. The United States have been ruled out in two of their three group stage games – a rarity and potentially worrying – and have had almost as many goals ruled out by offside calls (five) as they have scored ( six).

The United States may want to avoid a shootout against an attack led by Vivianne Miedema (eight goals) and Lieke Martens (six), but U.S. forward Christen Press has said he has the talent to do it if needed.

“The team is really hungry,” Press said. “The group stage made us feel like we had more to give. And I think that’s a good thing, it’s a powerful thing, and it’s intimidating. “

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