It has been not so straightforward for the US-Team than expected but still they are on track. From a technical point of view. But after a wonderful Alga-Cup tournament win after which the expectations could not have been more optimistic – the sparkle got lost gradually and has turned into some kind of pain watching how clumsy the team is grinding her way through based on a strong defense. China was expected to be the team parking the bus after performances in the Brazil tournament and Alga-Cup. But they – despite still mainly relying on their back line – have shown some nice play too especially in a win over the Netherlands that put them on second spot in their group having lost the opener against Canada under controversial circumstances by a penalty in overtime.
What to expect
A 1:0 win for the US, what else? You might ask. But wait. Surely possession for the US is expected to be around or above 60%. But will they get something out of it? Now, the last games obviously showed at least some kind of constant development going on. Unfortunately in the wrong direction. This trend is not your friend but it has become a trend and who else than the management will have the chance to stop that. China would be silly not to try to take advantage out of this situation. It can give a team kind of a lift when they are realizing that the opponent is struggling and getting frustrated. Of course these are not ideal prerequisites for an outstanding football match and the probability of a cracking game is really not extraordinary high. But hey: winning the nail-biters is what you remember.
Keys to success
1. For the US: Stop the downward trend as soon as possible.
Normally the players should come out in the first minutes like it was still 0:0 in the 110th minute. Because despite all the experience it is starting now slowly but surely to crawl up your mind that you actually find it difficult to score and even create chances. Every minute on a draw will increase the Chinese self belief making them more and more of a dangerous opponent by the minute.
2. For China: Keep a clean sheet.
Obviously the one thing to do. The opposite of what the US want and china has to prevent that. Quite surely they will even stay with that should they concede an early goal because they know that nerves of the US players are there best friends when they can chase even for a late equalizer should they be still in the game then.
Normally you would dig a little deeper in what way the US might be trying to improve their attacking play. Obviously the coach wants to stick with Abby ball, what is quite a neat little name for what is going on. So everything else makes no sense. Hoping to come through with any nice combination play. Surely, it is not impossible, but you probably need massive support by a lucky situation opening up or a sloppy defense is playing its part.
Even Abby ball could played much better by stopping Wambach from running around elsewhere losing energy she needs in front of goal. Additionally you could bring in much more crosses by forcing playing on the wings and setting up real wing players.
And so it remains like throwing the dice and force as much opportunities by somehow bringing the ball in the box as much as possible. Hopefully sooner or later it will fall then down to someone who gets an opportunity to score.
Things to watch out for:
Now Abby ball is really limiting here also. Watch out for Wambach headers. Who would have thought that? Additionally it might be interesting how Morgan is finding her way back to her former rhythm. Especially how she gets alongeside the Abby ball style of play. From Chinas point of view it might be interesting if any of the players can take on their respective US counterparts and create something of impact to the game.