With the USWNT reaching the CONCACAF W final, a more refined version emerged under the leadership of Vlatko Andonovski

MONRI, Mexico – Thursday brought another methodical performance for the US women’s team in their 3-0 victory over Costa Rica at the Universitario Stadium. The result secured a place for the Americans in Monday’s CONCACAF W Final, a match they and just about everyone assumed they would win from the start.

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The track there was more daunting than the dominant Vlatko Andonovsky team, but it was enough to qualify for the 2023 World Cup – where the US will be looking to win an unprecedented third title in a row – and put the US into one victory. a place in the 2024 Olympics.

“I think we need to be a bit sharper overall,” he said. Emily Sonnet, who scored the USWNT’s initial goal on Thursday. “I don’t think our team is very satisfied with that. There is a lot that we need to focus on. But overall, I think we have competed, and I think we have stuck to our match plans in every game. How do we get it all together now from now on?”

Two of Thursday’s targets were the product of high US execution pressure in the field in a timely manner. Sonnett’s opening goal in the 34th minute – the first in her career in 69 games – was like Kristi Moyes Game winner in Monday’s 1-0 win over Mexico, another unexpected corner kick attempt.

What’s important to creating that opportunity is something that won’t appear on the stats sheet: an individual defensive effort from Mallory Bog high field. One minute after Pugh nearly stripped Costa Rica goalkeeper Noelia Bermúdez in the penalty area, while the only player was pressing, the American winger put Costa Rica’s defense under deep pressure inside the defensive third, winning the ball and heading straight into the goal. Forcing the corner kick. Sonnett scored in the ensuing play.

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Ten minutes later, Pugh was at last. Sophia Smith He won the ball just outside the Costa Rica penalty area and Rose Lavelle reacted quickly, returning the ball into Pug’s way who was running in the back. Lavelle’s technical skill made the match, but Smith’s pressure to recover the ball in an elevated area was the catalyst.

“I think the pressure is a great opportunity to move on and attack,” Pugh said after the match. “So, I think if you look at it this way, like defense as attack, I think that’s just part of who we are. We want to create these offensive transitional moments to be able to create an ad. I feel that pressure, so I think it’s just part of who we are.”

Since Andonovsky’s first match in November 2019, the American press has been more diverse than the previous iteration under Jill Ellis. The 2019 World Cup winning team played with a strong and high-energy pressure that required great defensive efforts from the offensive line as well as the midfield that was required to cover vast areas of ground in wide areas. constant absence of Julie Erts (pregnant) and Sam Moyes (Recovering from injury), two of the three key midfielders at the 2019 World Cup are part of the reason the team’s area is in transition.

Andonovsky took on the task with a determination to add a nuance to the team’s defensive pressure. At the time, he said, his goal was not to completely reset the system that had the team so successful, but rather to add more complexity to the process. Sometimes, this means that the Americans will give up the front line a bit to challenge their opponent to play through them. Many opponents – especially in the CONCACAF region – can’t do that.

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On Thursday, circumstances dictated that the United States be selective about when to press, anyway. The match kicked off at 6pm local time under the harsh sun as the ongoing drought continued in Monterrey. The temperature at kickoff was 96 degrees Fahrenheit, with a feeling-like temperature of over 100. Thursday was also the fourth game in 11 days for each team (10 for their opponents), and with the final against Canada on Monday approaching, the US was on staff Allow themselves to look forward.

“It’s about reading the moments and time when we want to press and when we want to back off a little bit and let them have some passes,” Andonovsky said of heat management.

The next showdown between the US and Canada is the rematch of the semi-finals at last year’s Olympics, which the Canadians won in their gold-medal run, forcing the US to take the bronze. Canada will be the strongest and deepest opponent the United States has faced in all tournaments. It’s also a team that likes to find transitional moments and hit the counterattack, just as they did in the semi-finals in Tokyo. The United States dominated most of that match but received a fearsome penalty kick in Canada’s counterattack and lost 1-0.

Much of those same dynamics will be activated again on Monday, even though the US roster has undergone a major overhaul in the 11 months since that match. Canada, who defeated Jamaica 3-0 in a late game on Thursday, will be defensively sound and looking to exploit the United States in wide areas as the American fullback moves forward. This likely means that the United States will choose its moments to put pressure on its competitors, to reduce their vulnerability to a counterattack.

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“I feel the way Vlatko wants us to play, it’s different every match, right?” Alex Morgan He said. “It depends on whether it’s the quarterback or the quarterback [for the opposition], the way they compress – whether indoors or out, the spaces they offer, the high line or the low line. I think we faced different challenges in every match.”

Morgan followed this up by noting that the US could have led 3-0 by the first half but missed chances, including by her. It came to the last minute of the match and the United States missed many opportunities from close range, which has been the hallmark of this tournament. Sharpness is still not available for this US version, but it should be on Monday. The loser of the final will have to wait a year to confirm his place in the 2024 Olympics through a playoff.

“I thought we made a lot of technical errors, a lot for the players who were on the field,” Andonovsky said, “because we know it’s technical. We know they can level the ball and pass it and that they can implement different technical techniques. Motivation.”

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