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What The USWNT Got Right, And Oh-So Wrong

The United States Women’s National Team had their CONCACAF Gold Cup group stage matches these over the past two weeks. They were up against the Dominican Republic, Argentina and Mexico. While having the reputation of being one of the greatest teams in the world, the USWNT came second in their group when they lost to Mexico 2-0. Here is what they did right in the group stage matches, and why they fell apart in their final game.

USWNT vs. Dominican Republic

Their first game was against the Dominican Republic. During this game, the USWNT’s starting lineup featured three younger players, 18-year-old Olivia Moultrie accompanied by 23-year-old Sophia Smith in the front, and 23-year-old Jenna Nighswonger in the back. The USWNT scored 5 goals and conceded 0 goals in this game.

Moultrie scored two of the goals, and in the 86th minute, Nighswonger scored on a penalty. 28-year-old Margaret (Midge) Purce did what she did best, and had two assists during this game. The 3-5-2 formation also assisted in this win, as the midfield was stacked with experienced players.

USWNT vs. Argentina

The USWNT’s second game was against Argentina. During this game, the team opted for a 4-3-3 formation. This game also featured the well-seasoned veteran Lindsey Horan. Casey Murphy was also the starting goalie in this game instead of Alyssa Naeher. From what I witnessed, Murphy did a great job in decision-making and saving goals.

19-year-old Jaedyn Shaw scored two goals in 7 minutes and provided hope for the future of this team. Trinity Rodman also started and showcased her excellent control of the ball to progress up the field. In these two games, starting younger players while having veterans as a cushion proved to be what the USWNT needed.

USWNT vs. Mexico

In their game against Mexico, the USWNT had a 4-2-3-1 formation, with Sophia Smith as the lone forward to start. The US seemed to underestimate the ferocity that Mexico would bring into this game. Mexico provided a very physical game against a much older US squad and they dismantled the US in the first half. At one point, Smith was backfield defending and prevented a goal from Mexico. The US could not counter against Mexico’s speed, creativity, and high-pressure defense.

The midfield seemed non-existent, the players were not patient with their chances, passes were not accurate and they could not move the ball up the field. Most of the game took place in US territory and every player was defending against Mexico since they had a high-pressure offense as well. I found myself wondering what was happening to the structure of the USWNT as they fell 2-0 to Mexico.

Final Thoughts

The USWNT seems to be afraid of major changes, but that is exactly what we need. When new, fresh faces are on the pitch they can score, they can defend, and they can outwit opponents. The US team playing against Mexico replicated the 2023 World Cup team, and that campaign ended in devastation. They cannot keep doing the same things and expect different outcomes. While this loss was frustrating, hopefully, this was a reminder that in our current form, the USWNT is not the invincible team that they used to be.

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