Tony DiCicco, the last U.S. Women’s Soccer Coach to lead the team to the World Cup title in ’99, has frequently stated that the current team must move from a 4-4-2 to a 4-3-3. His commentary during the U.S.’s 2-0 win over Columbia last night was no different.
It has been clearly evident throughout the World Cup that the 4-4-2 formation employed by U.S. coach Jill Ellis has not been working. Not only has the team scored only 6 goals through four games, but they are not getting the amount of offensive opportunities they are accustomed to creating.
In addition to DiCiccco, former U.S. soccer stars and current analysts Julie Foudy and Kate Markgraff also believe the 4-4-2 formation is not working. Whoever is employed up top, the two front runners are not playing as a cohesive unit and it is affecting opportunities. The one exception from yesterday’s game was forward Alex Morgan flicking a header towards the 18 where fellow striker Abby Wambach unleashed a lethal left-footed volley that was somehow blocked one-handed by Columbian keeper Carfect talina Perez.
DiCicco believes the current 4-4-2 formation takes away the one-on-one creative situations on the flank. Now, the U.S. needs to play next game minus flank midfielder Megan Rapinoe and defensive midfielder Lauren Holliday due to yellow card accumulation. While this will hurt the U.S. they have more than enough talent on the roster to fill in for the quarterfinal game in Friday vs. China.
The China game will be a perfect game for the U.S. to break out into a 4-3-3 formation. Hope Solo is the best female keeper in the world and the back four of Meghan Klingenberg, Becky Sauerbrunn, Julie Johnston, and Ali Krieger has been solid. Both Klingenberg and Krieger have been able to push into the attack. If I were the coach, I might think about inserting Kelly O’Hara for Krieger. O’Hara is a former forward with much stronger offensive skills than Krieger. The flank midfielders should be Heather O’Reilly on the right side who has yet to make an appearance in this World Cup and young phenom Morgan Brian as the left midfielder. Carli Lloyd would be the sole center midfielder whose main job would be to control the midfield by distributing and choosing when the correct moment is push up into the attack. I would have Morgan on the left wing, Wambach as the center forward, and Sydney LeRoux as the right wing. Off the bench, Ellis could use Tobin Heath, Christen Press, and Amy Rodriguez.
If the U.S. is fortunate enough to advance to the semifinals, I would keep the lineup the same except insert Rapinoe in for Brian and Holliday in for O’Reilly. I would have Holliday as the lone central midfielder and push Lloyd out right to take advantage of her strong one-on-one skills.
Ellis needs to make a change before the China game, or the U.S. will go another year without a World Cup.
And that’s as I see it!
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Credit all authors of images used in both article and as cover image : Scott D. Mikulski