The draw, which got SCRAPPY in the final 20, all but eliminates the USWNT from a chance at repeating as champs. They are two points back of first place Japan (+1 England on goal differential) with just one game remaining. For the US to win, England and Japan would need a tie and the US would need a 3 goal or better win against Brazil. Not impossible, but not probable.
Afterwards, Megan Rapinoe said the game was, “…just frustrating.” Rapinoe, who scored off a perfect strike in the first half (below) to put the US up 1-0, discussed the “technical errors…turning the ball over…tactical fouls…” that killed the US today.
Megan Rapinoe always has the *green light* to shoot.
— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) March 2, 2019
It was a sloppy first 55 minutes for the US. The passing wasn’t crisp. The linking up wasn’t creative. The defense was again disorganized and leaky. And again, the tone and tenor of the US attack changed when Christen Press was subbed in at the 55th (for Mallory Pugh) when down 1-2. The ball predominantly stayed on the England half from that point on, with the US equalizing 2-2 off a Tobin Heath goal in the 67th. After the game, Rapinoe noted that the US shouldn’t need to go down to pick up its intensity.
We asked USWNT coach Jill Ellis after the game how to integrate Press more, as she immediately adds a dynamic level to the attack when she’s on the pitch. Ellis said, “She’s been fantastic,” and lauded the team’s “depth in this system.” She considers Press in some sense a starter in that she “trains with the starting 11.” However, it’s becoming more and more evident that Press’ athleticism gives the US a little extra kick. Press’ #23 may need to find its way into the starting XI come June in France to give the USWNT its best chance at the 2019 Women’s World Cup.
Regardless, it wasn’t all negative for the USWNT. They out-possessed England 54% to 46%, and signficantly outshot them (many coming after the Press sub), 20 (5) to 6 (3). Slight improvements in the backline, as well as further integration of Press earlier in games, could make a major difference by the summer.