ImPRESSive Little goals from outside the Boxx

by Tiffany Weimer

The game against Scotland went as it should for a first game back. The teams last met in 2002, where the US won 8-2. Since that time, the Scotland Women’s program has gone through changes and there are better systems in place for youth players as well as a more stable and competitive league. (Check out the article in our December Issue dec 2012 scotland).

Tobin Heath (Photo courtesy of Dana Crane)
Tobin Heath (Photo courtesy of Dana Crane)

So, a 4-1 win, with goals from Christen Press (2), Shannon Boxx and Sydney Leroux was expected.

I thought Scotland could have done better with the opportunities they were given though. It was good to see them get on the board with a Kim Little goal in the 54th minute. Although the goal came from a poor clearance from center back Becky Sauerbrunn (which was unfortunate because I thought she had a great match up until then), it was still a brilliant finish.

Overall, the US get a 6 out of 10 from me. This is their first game back. There are players who haven’t played within the squad before, as well as a few injuries. The players shouldn’t be peaking at this point in the year and none of them have been playing consistently in games. (This is why the new league is so important and awesome, regardless of what anyone thinks about how it’s being operated off the field).

I thought they forced balls in the final third where they could have kept it more and found the seams inside the 18. This was better in the second half though. The second goal was a 4-pass buildup which ended with a great back post run from Press and a perfectly timed ball from Tobin Heath from the left side. That buildup play in the midfield gives the wings and the forwards time to create space for each other and for the outside backs to get forward.  I thought Kelley O’Hara and Heath on the left side were dangerous, not to mention they looked like they were having a blast playing with each other.

So without any further analysis, here are my awards for the first game of the season:

1. Meggaward: O’Hara had the only nutmeg. But maybe I missed one or two when I had to use the rest room. Even though she was fouled soon after, she still had the only one of the game I saw. Which makes me happy.

2. Shot of the Game: Easy: Yael Averbuch launched a shot that made NASA wonder what they might be doing wrong. Unfortunate not to go in, but Averbuch continues to show how dangerous she is from distance.

3. Goal of the Game: Boxx. The fact that she got the shot off was impressive in itself, never mind that she completely rocked it upper netting.

4. Most touches on the ball: I will admit to not counting every touch, but my guess would be Heath. She was all over the field and looked confident and calm on the ball all game. She created combination play through the midfield and rarely lost the ball. It was refreshing to see her so involved.

5. Most miles put in: I thought Carli Lloyd’s movement off the ball was the best on the pitch yesterday. I thought she did a great job of showing for the ball on the outside (the wingers were able to play one touch when they received the ball) and making runs (even if she didn’t get the ball) to open space for others. She and Boxx in the midfield looked to be a good mix.

USWNT vs. Scotland (Photo courtesy of Dana Crane)

6. Players of the Match: Press and Heath are my two players of the match. Any player that scores twice for their country in their first appearance (off of her first two shots mind you) deserves player of the match. Heath, as I mentioned, was all over the pitch and created a lot of the scoring opportunities they had.

7. Get your CAP on: People say your cap (with your gown) is the most important cap in your life? Ask these guys: Press, Julie Johnston and Kristie Mewis. Big ups.

Overall, it was enjoyable to watch some players show their personality on the field. Aside from several unforced giveaways, giving up a goal, and as I mentioned forcing that final pass, the USWNT got off to a good start against Scotland. It was great to see young players get opportunities too. Hopefully this is a sign of things to come.