Well this analysis won’t be a thorough as last week’s France v USA one. The reason is very simple, I was delayed in the public transport from work to Milton Keynes and therefore missed the first 30 minutes of the game including the Alex Morgan goal.
England : Bardsley, A Scott Houghton Bassett Stokes, Nobbs J Scott Potter Carney, Kirby Taylor
USA : Harris, Krieger Engen Sauerbrunn Klingenberg, Press Brian Holiday Lloyd, Wambach Morgan
Tactics and systems
England made 5 changes from the team that lost 3-0 at Wembley against the USA with Bronze ( injured), Wiliams, Sanderson, Duggan ( injured) and Aluko repalced by Bassett, J Scott, Potter, Kirby and Taylor. They also made a tactical change going from a diamond midfield to a flat 4 midfield in their 4-4-2. England had a classic midfield 4 with Kirby in a free role running around Taylor.
To me it seems that Mark Sampson had moved the cursor from an attacking team to a defensive team, going back to the basics after the 3-0 defeat to Germany at Wembley.
USA made 2 changes from the side that lost to France with Chalupny and Heath making way for Krieger and Wambach. Kilingenberg and Press moved position as well in the 4-2-2-2 system chosen by Jill Ellis. She chose the continuity in term of tactics/ system, while we could have expected a return to 4-3-3 with Press Wambach and Morgan up front.
So as expected, we saw Press and Lloyd come inside and leave the whole space on the wing to Krieger on the right and Klingenberg on the left. This tactic seemed to work well as England decided to defend deep and centrally. In attacking form, the team shape actually looked like : a triangle at the back Engen Sauerbrunn with Holiday at the tip, 5 players in the central area : Brian in the middle Press and Lloyd with Wambach and Morgan up top, and the 2 full backs very high on the pitch.
Pretty minimal on the night, the game was 10 to 15 % less intense than the France USA game. England players being in pre-season while the French ones were in the middle of theirs clearly showed as impact were not as important, they were a lot less duels than last Sunday in Lorient. The intensity in the midfield battle was not really high overall despite such a high concentration on players in that area.
Both side defended in a flat 4-4-2 system, England defending a lot deeper than the USA sometimes having their 11 players behind the ball in their own half. It meant they had to run forward for 60 to 80 yards most of the time to be able to create a chance. Funnily enough the USA did the same sitting and hitting on the break with the 2 quick forwards against France and were on the receiving end of it this time. England did not press very much the ball holder, leaving the american players with a lot of space and time to try to create chances. England worked hard to minimise chances coming through the congested midfield area.
While I was still on my travels, there were a lot of mentions on twitter that the USA were over-using the long ball. To be honest, I think they did use it a bit from the 30th to the end of the game but nothing extravagant. As England decided to defend quite deep, the USA enjoyed a lot of the ball and tried to develop a possession based game. As in the France game, a number of passes went ashtray but England were not dangerous very often from the turnovers.
England seemed to enjoy playing on the break for most of the game but the 2 forwards Kirby and Taylor were frequently isolated and they only started to pressurise the USA in the last 10 minutes when Mark Sampson made a lot of changes. The forwards getting finally support from the whole of midfield rather than a sporadic one signle player or maybe two as seen during the rest of the game.
Game management and substitutions
25′ goal Alex Morgan 1-0 USA
70′ Greenwood replaces Stokes for England. Straight swap at left back. Her pass completion rate will be quite poor in those 20 minutes.
79′ Auko replace Potter for England. She goes up front, Kirby moves from center forward to right midfield. Same 4-4-2 system but emphasis now on full attack for England.
79′ Dunn replaces Klingenberg for the USA Straight swap at left back. Did not see much of her in 10 minutes. Same 4-2-2-2 system
81′ Sanderson on for Taylor and Williams for Nobbs for England. Sanderson goes second striker behind Aluko while Williams goes into central midfield alongside Potter. Same 4-4-2 system
89′ Rodriguez replaces Morgan for the USA. Another straight swap and no time for A-Rod to show anything. Same 4-2-2-2 system
90′ Clarke replaces Bassett for England. England finishes the game in 3-4-3 with Clarke slotting up front on the right.
92′ O’Hara replaces Press for the USA. Straight swap on the right side of midfield. No time for Kelley to show anything.
What we learnt from the game : both teams are work in progress and are definitely not ready for the World Cup. They will certainly use the Algarve/Cyprus Cup to fix the problems that need to be fixed ie find their best 11 and their best tactics. After all both teams are still in pre-season as club football has not started yet in England or in the USA.