The United States women’s national team is winning ugly at the 2015 Women’s World Cup.
Despite advancing to the quarterfinals, the US and coach Jill Ellis are facing significant criticism from fans, commentators, and even former players. One of the most pointed criticisms came from US legend Michelle Akers.
In an interview with SiriusXM after the US’s 2-0 win over Colombia in the Round of 16, Akers called out Ellis for saying she was content with how the US is playing.
“When I say, ‘Hey man, I’ll take an ugly World Cup win,” I’m dealing with the now. And the now is, we don’t have all our pieces together, we aren’t performing at our best, some of our coaching decisions are unexplainable,” she said. “If [Ellis] is pleased with the way we played tonight then what the hell is she doing coaching our US team, you know what I’m saying?”
Akers is referring to an interview after the Colombia game where Ellis said, “I’m pleased with where we are.”
The US has failed to generate a high volume of chances outside of set pieces in this World Cup, often opting to boot long balls to Abby Wambach or stand and watch Megan Rapinoe try to make something out of nothing on the wing rather than playing through the midfield. Against Colombia, a 28th-ranked team that played half the game with 10 players, the US generated few legitimate goal-scoring opportunities:
Ellis has tried to get all of her best attack-minded players on the field at once. She’s played with two forwards in addition to Megan Rapinoe, Carli Lloyd, and, at times, Christen Press as well. As a result, there’s a lack of balance and a void in the midfield.
“Teams playing with numbers advantages in the middle of the park — Australia, Colombia and, next up, China — have had a distinct advantage against the US at this World Cup,” wrote Equaliser’s Jeff Kassouf.
The US will be without Megan Rapinoe and Lauren Holiday in the quarterfinal match against China, which will make it that much tougher to create chances:
The US has only allowed one goal in four games, but with the No. 1-ranked Germany looming in the semifinals, time is running out for the US to find some balance.
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