Women’s World Cup 2019 team guide: United States
The USWNT have a daring attack-first style, and though defence may be a anxiety, they’re still among the favourites.
Coach Ellis finally decided on a 4-3-3 formation constructed around a number of mainstays: goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher (who held off Ashlyn Harris for the starting job), the central defence pairing of Abby Dahlkemper and Becky Sauerbrunn, Lindsey Horan and Julie Ertz in the midfield and Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan up front. The result? A 28-game unbeaten run that ended only in January.
A thrilling attack-first style organized by Rapinoe, Morgan, Tobin Heath, Mallory Pugh, Christen Press and old warhorse Carli Lloyd suggests the Americans will have no problem scoring goals in France. Whether they can keep their opponents from returning the favour often enough is the far more pressing issue. They opened the calendar year with a patchy record of two wins, two draws and one loss, including back-to-back games with multiple goals conceded for the first time since 2011. Naeher, always somewhat unpredictable for her country, has been done no favours by a back line thin on depth and experience: starting right-back Kelley O’Hara has been troubled by injury and left-back Crystal Dunn is playing out of her natural forward position.
Having noted the above reservations, Ellis’s squad still enters the tournament as favourites on merit, but matching the 540 minutes without conceding a goal they managed in the 2015 World Cup feels highly unlikely.
USWNT ON KRNN, 6/15: The U.S. Women’s National Team competes this month in France for the Soccer World Cup. You are invited to cheer for the team on the radio pitch as we play blues and avoid penalties on WTBA, 6/15 at 5 pm.
USA Roster for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup
Goalkeepers: Adrianna Franch, Ashlyn Harris, Alyssa Naeher
Defenders: Abby Dahlkemper, Tierna Davidson, Crystal Dunn, Ali Krieger, Kelley O’Hara, Becky Sauerbrunn, Emily Sonnett
Midfielders: Morgan Brian, Julie Ertz, Lindsey Horan, Rose Lavelle, Allie Long, Samantha Mewis
Forwards: Tobin Heath, Carli Lloyd, Jessica McDonald, Alex Morgan, Christen Press, Mallory Pugh, Megan Rapinoe
In the end Jill Ellis’s roster for France drew overwhelmingly from the core group that emerged during the team’s unbeaten 2018. The Portsmouth-born coach has taken a bit of criticism in the final runup to France for tinkering with formations and trying players in new roles when consistency should be the focus, but this is an experienced team – more than half of the 2015 squad is back for the title defence – that should be ready for what is afoot when the games start in earnest. The main tactical question is whether the US will be able to break down lesser teams with the ability to counter: they struggled to crack the code for a long stretch in the friendly win over South Africa, same as against Sweden in the Rio Olympics.
The premier players are numerous. No fewer than a half-dozen of the forwards in Ellis’s squad would play a feature role for any team in the tournament, including Morgan, Heath and Pugh. But 33-year-old Megan Rapinoe, whose imaginative energy at the Rio Olympics was stunted as she recovered from a third ACL injury, remains the straw that stirs the drink for the United States up top.
A brief history of women’s football in the United States
The 1972 passage of the federal legislation known as Title IX – the law that makes it illegal to discriminate on the basis of sex in any federally funded activity – created opportunities for girls and women to play sports that gave the United States a head start on the international scene.
The US women’s national team didn’t play their first game until 1985 – a 1-0 defeat to Italy in the Mundialito tournament after coming together with less than a week’s notice – but a Michelle Akers and Carin Jennings-inspired squad captured their first World Cup in 1991. The second in 1999 – famously capped by Brandi Chastain’s shootout-clinching penalty against China in front of more than 90,000 fans at the Rose Bowl – was an epochal moment in American sports, driving youth participation in girls’ soccer to untold heights and inspiring a new generation of athletes that have endowed the United States with one of the world’s deepest talent pools.
The results speak for themselves: the United States have won three World Cups and never finished worse than third in the tournament, adding four Olympic gold medals along the way.
What is the realistic aim for the United States in France and why?
Given the powerfulness, depth and skill of the United States make them no worse than joint favourites with the hosts, anything short of a fourth World Cup would be a disappointment. A confrontation with Les Bleues will take place in the quarter-finals – at Parc des Princes in Paris on 28 June – if both sides win their groups as expected.
Bryan Armen Graham writes for the Guardian US
Bryan Armen Graham Published: Guardian US Thursday, 06 June 2019
On 10 June 1942, following the assassination of a high-ranking Nazi official in what is now the Czech Republic, Adolf Hitler ordered immediate reprisals against the local population. Nazi troops immediately moved into the village of Lidice and rounded up all 173 of the men who were over 16 years of age. By the afternoon, all of them had been executed.
The 203 women were rounded up and, after the forced abortion of four pregnant women, were transported to various concentration camps. 105 children were taken and separated from their mothers. On 2 July, 82 of these children were taken to an extermination camp and murdered.
The village of Lidice was set on fire and the remains destroyed so as that no evidence of Lidice having ever existed could be found, with the entire attack filmed by the SS. In all, only 170 of Lidice’s population of around 510 survived the war, with only 17 of them children. Similar reprisals were carried out across a large area of Czechoslovakia, and it is estimated that in total around 1,300 people were killed in total – unlike other Nazi massacres, there was no attempt to hide that this had taken place.
Almost as soon as this news reached Britain, Barnet Stross, a doctor and City Councillor in Stoke-on-Trent, set to work on founding the ‘Lidice Shall Live’ movement, the name created by Stross in response to Adolf Hitler’s order that ‘Lidice Shall Die Forever’
Stross invited the Czech president, Soviet ambassador and President of the Miners’ Federation to a launch event, which was attended by 3,000 people. In the months ahead, donations were collected from miners and workers to rebuild Lidice.
In Stross’s words: “The miner’s lamp dispels the shadows on the coal face. It can also send a ray of light across the sea to those who struggle in darkness”.
When the decision was taken by the Czechoslovak government to rebuild Lidice, the equivalent of £1m in today’s money was provided by the ‘Lidice Shall Live’ movement.
Not only is it important that we understand the consequences of hatred and prejudice, but also the good that can be done by those who are unwilling to sit by and allow it to take place.
As time goes by and we lose first-hand accounts of Nazi atrocities, events such as Holocaust Memorial Day become even more important. At times, however, it can feel that the sheer scale of the slaughter in the Second World War can be too horrifying to comprehend and that as a result individual stories are lost.
Lidice provides a glimmer of light among one of the darkest periods of human history, with the generosity of the British people and the defiance of the residents of the village ensuring that Lidice, indeed, did live.’
(Reference: BBC and Radio Prague websites)
[photos: Czech Republic Culture Dept. and JWSivertsenJr]