Welcome to the women's sports forum. Only two rules, no spam and no profanity. Oh - and play nice!
I'm not sure not much you were able to catch of the European Championships (unfortunately FSC chose not not cover the tournament like they did in 2005, but that's another topic!), but I wanted to pick your brain about something.
From what I observed, some of the European teams show a higher level of technical and tactical skill than our national team. The creative attacking flair was great and there were some clinical build-ups and finishes. I don't see that offensive creativity on our team. And yet we continue to get results against most of these teams. Why do you think this is? I know that we, in the US, put more emphasis on physical strength and conditioning than many other nations, but is that all it is? Is it the USA tradition of winning that makes other teams nervous and not play to their potential?
The Germany match coming up in October should be a great test, and I hope both teams take it seriously. Traditionally, the European teams use friendlies as learning experiences for their younger players, while the US fields it's strongest side because it values results more than development. Maybe Pia, with her Euro perspective, will try to experiment more, but I've been disappointed by a few of her decisions lately, both in call-ups (Shnur over Dowling, no Allison Falk, only three forwards, etc.) and tactics (playing a conservative, predictable line-up in the Canada series).
What do you think?
I'm not sure I agree that the US isn't playing with sophisticated tactics. When it's all clicking Pia has them playing an extremely fast one touch style. This allows for quick developing attacks, doesn't allow defenses to get set and allows for the US to quickly work balls in and take good shots . . . when it's all clicking. The style she's got them playing requires them to play as a unit, individuals going rogue and trying to do it on their own make the whole thing look like a mess - which I think is what we've seen in some of their more difficult outings. This is a team very dependent on a strong midfield and whatever confidence issues Lloyd is having and Tarpley's injury have probably thrown quite a wrench into planning.
I agree completely that the US isn't as technical as other teams and you know, that's fine. They're never going to be. Soccer is not cultural here, kids don't grow up with a ball attached to their foot as they do in other countries - it's just not who we are on the sports landscape, and it's never who we're going to be. Take a look at the tactics in some college games, that's not what youth players learn, not even in college - to expect them to get to the national team and be able to have the on ball skills that players in other countries develop from the time they can walk is simply not realistic.
To Pia's credit, she relizes this and doesn't have them dribbling and dribbling and dribbling with no direction as some of her predecessors attempted. She has them playing just as fast as more techinical sides, the speed just comes from passing and quick decisions rather than from one player taking on defenses all the time. It's probably why you see a lot of consistency in her lineups - it's all about passing and playing together - you can't put that together at the last second.
I always felt Heinrichs was trying to coach a team that was far more technical than her team actually was. This led to a lot of games where the US was possesing with no direction and you'd see a single player dribbling and dribbling and holding and holding and then taking an awful shot. I like that Pia coaches the players she has rather than the ones she wishes she had - a good coach devises a game plan that accentuates his/her talent. She's done that. Like has been said about Chalupny's game repeatedly - every touch has a purpose - from what I've seen, Pia wants/needs a whole team to play like that.
Agreed that Germany will be a good test. I'm not prepared to be too hard on Team USA yet though - they've got injuries, and some third party coaches screwing with the heads of some key US players - Pia's got a couple of years to sort it out. Nothing I'm seeing at this point is aggravating me too much (other than my girl Keeley Dowling not getting a call up but honestly, I came to terms with that years ago) - we'll see what happens. Hopefully, there will be a way to watch these games somewhere (shoot a message up here if they will be - I don't trust myself to figure that out on my own).