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2021-22 News Thread

jeffbear

Mod Squad
Staff member
May as well switch seasons, since the Euro clubs are in camp, Champions League prelims start this week and all the important summer tourneys other than the Olympics. And the Gold Cup, I guess ... not that anyone involved actually considers that "important."

So ... at least we can start off with CL prelims and the Olympics. Have at it.
 

jeffbear

Mod Squad
Staff member
Quarterfinals are set for the Gold Cup ...

US vs Jamaica
Qatar vs El Salvador

Mexico vs Honduras
Costa Rica vs Canada

Good bracket for the US, but they're dealing with injuries and have had to send Walker Zimmerman home. That's a blow to the backline as he was by far the most experienced international in the group. Honestly? I only watched the game with Canada in the groups, but I don't see any possible way this US squad can hang with Mexico or Costa Rica. In fact, I doubt they'd get past El Salvador if the bracket falls that way.
 

jeffbear

Mod Squad
Staff member
The USWNT opened Olympic play by getting beaten silly by Sweden ... 3-0. Sweden were vastly better in defense and rather easily stretched the US out of shape when they had possession. It was the worst showing by a USWNT side that I've seen in years. Pretty much nothing went their way.
 

andyt

Canes Moderator
Staff member
The USWNT opened Olympic play by getting beaten silly by Sweden ... 3-0. Sweden were vastly better in defense and rather easily stretched the US out of shape when they had possession. It was the worst showing by a USWNT side that I've seen in years. Pretty much nothing went their way.
I chose not to wake up at 4:30 for that. In the other group game, Australia beat New Zealand 2-1. The Matildas had about 60% possession and dominated the whole way. That goal by New Zealand came in stoppage and could prove huge in goal differential if the group comes down to that. The US take on New Zealand on Saturday at 7:30.
 

jeffbear

Mod Squad
Staff member
I recorded it man ... I'm not that far gone. I didn't watch the Australia game, but they're a handful. The US needs to wake up quick or else this could be a very, very bad Olympics for them. Honestly, I was hoping Vladko would at least shake up the system even if he went with the old guard, but I guess Covid probably dictated otherwise.
 

jeffbear

Mod Squad
Staff member
The USWNT sorta stormed back from that defeat. They hung 6 on a bad New Zealand team (and had several goals waived off for offsides decisions) but I dunno what to make of it, as the Ferns were THAT bad.

In the other group game, Sweden made what looked like fairly easy work of Australia by a 4-2 score. Sam Kerr is still amazing, but the Matilda's are mostly just athletic otherwise. They did do a much better job of maintaining possession against Sweden than the US did the other day. Should be a real battle for the US, since Kerr is a threat from anywhere.

Otherwise ... Team GB beat the hosts 1-0, with a ton of possession. Scotland may only be contributing Kim Little to proceedings, but she makes a HUGE difference for them. The Brits really needed that midfielder who can turn, burn and link to the attack. Takes the pressure off their wide players. The Dutch and Brazilians ended honors even in the other heavyweight bout.
 
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jeffbear

Mod Squad
Staff member
USWNT looked like hot garbage in possession, but they managed a 0-0 draw with Australia to qualify for the knockout rounds. Sweden beat New Zealand to wrap up the group. The US ladies looked tentative, never seemed sure of when to press and passed the ball VERY poorly. They're consistently getting beaten in midfield, which is just not something this group is used to seeing ... like, ever. Bottom line ... given what I've seen so far, I'd be highly surprised to see the US bring home a medal in this tournament. But hey, maybe they're sandbagging and saving their legs by not running their customary press. I doubt it, but whatever.
 

jeffbear

Mod Squad
Staff member
Olympic women's soccer quarters wrapped up yesterday. The US held off the Netherlands in PKs, the Aussies glassed the Brits in a wild 4-3 game, Sweden handled Japan fairly easily and Canada squeaked out a PK win over Brazil after a 0-0 game.

That sets up the US vs Canada and Sweden vs Australia for the semis on Monday. The US still can't seem to figure out how to apply pressure while not getting their doors blown off in midfield, which is worrying. At least they finally found some goals against a pretty good Dutch defense and face Canada ... who they know so very well. Sweden still looks like the class of the tourney, though.
 

jeffbear

Mod Squad
Staff member
Oh ... Gold Cup. You can start caring now, because the US scrapped their way into the final against Mexico. El Tri has been good in the field, but can't finish worth a dang, otherwise they'd be blowing people out. The US has been pretty ugly all over, but hang in there and get timely scoring late. Could be a weird one if the US can manage not to get dusted early.
 

Tryamw

Well-known member
I was hoping Canada would beat Mexico but yeah...
Dike wasn't good (to me the last 2 games.. and this past game seemed to still be nursing that shoulder he dinged in the prior.
Zhardes (IMO should start.) and Hoppe was been a delight but sometimes needs to learn discretion.. Trying to go from your back third through the other team dribbling while still on your half the field well isn't always the smartest. Still so far the revelation of the field players..
Turner's also been a bright spot. Busio? Young needs a bit of core strength. Lletget is fine Acosta Good and bad.. I'll expect to lose this final.

And CONCACAF refereeing is still in poor shape. Apparently Martinez gets the final though glad it's not Escobar.
 

jeffbear

Mod Squad
Staff member
Dike and Hoppe are both children, and arre out there for the International experience as much as anything else. I wouldn't be surprised to see Berhalter stick with them in the Final to give them a tase of the real deal. For this particular US roster, making the Final was their Gold Cup finished. Anything else they do is gravy.

I like what we're seeing from the guys in the back, despite some shaky stretches. Vines and Robinson have come through some real challenges on the left and Shaq Moore has shown me a ton more than I've seen from him before. James Sands might be the best passer on the team full stop.
 

andyt

Canes Moderator
Staff member
Miles Robinson converts a picture perfect free kick from Kellyn Acosta and the US takes the trophy after extra time.

And this is stolen from American Outlaws Madison:

2021 Trophies:

USA - Dos
Mexico - Cero
 

Tryamw

Well-known member
What an ending.. US seemed to be the better team after the 70th ish minute.. and through extra time.

Robinson was the man of the match he helped keep alot of junk from forcing Turner to be the MotM.
Acosta man who need to get better with passing had a beauty of a feed to Robinson.
 

jeffbear

Mod Squad
Staff member
Amazing game from the Men. Berhalter stuck with the depth and it paid off ... probably bigger than he imagined. I mean, he spent the whole tournament blooding in Shaq Moore and Sam Vines at the wide backs, and both had been very, very good. And what does he do for the Final against the most dangerous wingers the US would face in the tournament? Switches it up to Cannon and Bello ... who play really well and then give way to Moore and Vines who now have a ton of confidence. That's the kind of think you hope will pay off but rarely does.

And then he flipped the philosophy up front where he gave minutes all tournament to Dike, while bringing Zardes off the bench only to run Zardes the full game against Mexico. And somehow he had the legs to press all game. And bringing Erik Williamson into the starting 11 ... what? And it worked, as Williamson's physicality turned out to be important to free up Acosta to hunt a little more freely. For all the legitimate criticism Berhalter has taken, this summer the experiment has started to pay off and he's actually getting international class play out of his MLS depth guys. All they're really missing is a finisher up front, and that ain't his fault.

Man of the Match ... Kellyn Acosta. Classic destroyer/disruptor performance and a picture perfect ball into the box on the goal.

Man of the Tournament ... Matt Turner. Finding another goalkeeper behind Steffan was critical and Turner's more than proven he's ready to be the guy. Calm, confident and technical. Awesome tournament. Honorable mention to Miles Robinson. Not for the goal either, although that was nice. He was brilliant in defense after the injury to Zimmerman forced him into heavy minutes. Hard to imagine a WCQ roster that doesn't include him at this point, and holy crap what a difference it makes when Berhalter runs his defensive system with two CBs who can actually run.
 

jeffbear

Mod Squad
Staff member
OK ... the women. Pretty much the opposite of everything I just wrote about the Men. The USWNT lost 1-0 to Canada this morning and showed almost none of their characteristic swagger in the process. Limp, pale, shabby and weirdly listless, the ladies look very unlikely to medal at all to me. They'll have a shot at the Bronze, most likely against Australia, but it wouldn't shock me at all if they leave Japan empty handed. In fact, they deserve it. People will blame Andonovski, and the tactics WERE a problem ... but nobody was getting much out of whatever that group brought to the table this time. They looked legless and uninterested right from the first minute of each game. Whether that's a lack of will or a lack of conditioning or both ... I don't know or care. Past time to change the guard for the USWNT. Naeher was by far their best player in this tournament and she's now injured. And when THAT team is leaning on their goalie, then things are WAY off track.
 

andyt

Canes Moderator
Staff member
I don’t know about the tactics, he’s using the same formation and most of the same players that Ellis won the 2019 World Cup with. And that’s the problem, IMO. The team is old, oldest in the tournament. Naeher, Franch, O’Hara, Sauerbrunn, Morgan, Lloyd, Heath, Press, Rapinoe are all on the wrong side of 30. Only Tierna Davidson is under 25. And the postponed Olympics compressed the window to the next World Cup, so if Mewis, Ertz, Dunn want to start a family, they lost a year.
 

jeffbear

Mod Squad
Staff member
I don’t know about the tactics, he’s using the same formation and most of the same players that Ellis won the 2019 World Cup with. And that’s the problem, IMO. The team is old, oldest in the tournament. Naeher, Franch, O’Hara, Sauerbrunn, Morgan, Lloyd, Heath, Press, Rapinoe are all on the wrong side of 30. Only Tierna Davidson is under 25. And the postponed Olympics compressed the window to the next World Cup, so if Mewis, Ertz, Dunn want to start a family, they lost a year.
Well, he's using the same shape at least. Without the pressure from the forward line, it's NOT the same system ... and they have not generated any kind of pressure from the forwards this whole tournament. I presume it's because they're all old and he's trying to preserve the legs, but to what end? The press is what defines this team, along with the destroyer in the defensive midfield. Ertz wasn't ready for this tournament due to injury and Plan B didn't work in midfield. And that's fine so long as you don't stubbornly cling to a system that isn't working. I feel like Vladko deferred to the players WAY too much and now he's stuck having to clean house and start over ... and that's going to be ugly with all the egos involved. He could have used this tournament as a jumping off point to the next Wold Cup cycle but instead he has quite literally wasted everyone's time.
 

jeffbear

Mod Squad
Staff member
USWNT take down Australia 4-3 to win the bronze medal match. Weird game. The US finally turned on their pressing game and came out looking very much like the 2019 version of themselves ... only to possibly show why we haven't seen that style of play very much in this tournament by sloppily keeping Australia in the game with a lot of mistakes in space and bad/slow reaction plays. It wasn't really a 1 goal difference between the two, as a late goal favored the Matilda's more than their play deserved ... especially in the back where they were kind of a train wreck at times. But that just isn't the dominant US side we've come to expect anymore. Turns out it's hard to get to that level.

Since the US simply HAS to start moving away from their aging stars, it's fitting that Rapinoe and Lloyd went out with a brace apiece. This is almost certainly the last international hurrah for those two, Sauerbrunn, O'Hara, and Heath. Others are right on the cusp age-wise ... Press, Morgan, Naeher. At least they got a medal on their last big tournament as a group. They really have been remarkable and it's a little sad to see the wheels fall off a little at the end, even if that was always the way it was going to go. Women's international soccer is a whole new world from when these 30-something Americans first hit the scene, and a lot of that is because of them ... on and off the field.
 

andyt

Canes Moderator
Staff member
Of all you named, I think Press is the only one with a realistic chance of sticking around. Yes, she’s over 30 and 100+ caps, but she‘s really not been a full-time starter/90 minute player for much of her career.

Nice Olimpico (again) from Rapinoe.
 
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