U.S. women in the World Cup semifinals: Decisions, decisions

Jill Ellis made three lineup changes for Friday’s quarterfinal win against China, two out of necessity. The result: Still just a 1-0 win against a team that had little attacking punch, but the team looked better and felt better. And it was the kind of performance U.S. fans had wanted to see. Amy Rodriguez was buzzing around making things difficult for China, Alex Morgan was a looming threat, and Carli Lloyd was unleashed. Not that the trio was perfect — A-Rod shanked a great chance like a beginning golfer, Morgan didn’t quite have the scoring touch, and Lloyd had a … Continue reading U.S. women in the World Cup semifinals: Decisions, decisions

Jill Ellis stubbornly goes forth into the World Cup

U.S. women’s soccer coach Jill Ellis talked with Grant Wahl, at last giving someone a chance to ask questions that have been kicking around in the Twittersphere for a while. On Twitter, they were often phrased something like “What the &*%$! is that midfield supposed to be?!” Here, it’s “Why don’t you consider using a pure defensive midfielder?” A few takeaways: 1. Ellis still talks about a core of 13-14 players. That would be an unusual approach. In 1999, Tony DiCicco rested several players in the final group game against North Korea — Michelle Akers and Kate Markgraf sat the whole way, … Continue reading Jill Ellis stubbornly goes forth into the World Cup

U.S. women’s national team: What are they doing?

I figured it out. The USA is playing a 4-3-3 formation with fluid interchanges in midfield. No, wait — it’s a 4-5-1, with one target forward and two traditional wingers. Or maybe it’s a 4-2-4, with Carli Lloyd and Lauren Holiday as the only actual midfielders. No, no. I’ve got it. It was Col. Mustard with the lead pipe in the conservatory. In some senses, the Jill Ellis Way isn’t all that complicated. At least, it wasn’t in Monday night’s rather routine 6-0 rout over Haiti that clinched first place in their World Cup qualifying group and moved the team … Continue reading U.S. women’s national team: What are they doing?