Women's World Cup 2019: Experience key to USA's success

Oleh Chelsea Howard 11 Jun 2019 378
Women's World Cup 2019: Experience key to USA's success

What are the most important factors that the U.S. women's national team will have to rely on if it wants to win another World Cup title?

Experience and depth. 

"Coming out of the Olympics, it was looking at not just player personnel but profile — what kind of players, where is the game headed, where are we trending," coach Jill Ellis said during a conference call after the roster was announced (via ESPN).

"And making sure we had players who could fill those needs and be able to contribute to where I envisioned the game going four years on. I think what we've come to is exactly that, is a team with great energy, a team with great experience."

Ellis drew from what she knew when she selected the roster. While she picked a mix of newcomers with 11 rookies heading to their first World Cup, the rest of the team was selected after playing through the highs of winning the 2015 World Cup and then the lows of playing in the 2016 Olympics when they didn't make it out of the quarterfinal round. 

Of the 23 players selected, only Adrianna Franch, Rose Lavelle, Jessica McDonald, Abby Dahlkemper and Tierna Davidson made the roster without previously playing in a major tournament. 

Instead of taking a chance on young prospects like Emily Fox or Andi Sullivan, Ellis selected Morgan Brian, Allie Long and Ali Krieger. Combined, Brian, Krieger and Long have combined to play barely 1,000 minutes for the national team since the start of 2018. To put that in perspective: Alex Morgan played more than 2,000 minutes during the same span.

"As much as you want to focus, for sure, on the here and now, you also know what someone is like," Ellis said. "When you look at a player, it's not just what they can do on the field — it's trusting them to execute. Set pieces are such a massive part of world events, and knowing that Mo (Brian) will always know her role, always do her job in those types of things, it's the big picture."

One area in particular where the depth and experience is present is among the forwards. For the first time in the USWNT's World Cup history, USA will have two players (Carli Lloyd and Morgan) who have reached 100 international goals or more. There will be two more forwards going to France than the 2015, 2007 and 2003 teams and three more than the 2011 roster. 

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"As much as we ask our forwards to do in the pressing game," Ellis said, "I think having depth, having legs is part of the consideration for seven games in a month, that kind of thing."

Morgan, who has 101 international goals in 163 appearances, acknowledged the amount of depth the national team brings to any game. For example, Christen Press and Mallory Pugh would make strong starters for any nation, however, those two would likely come off the bench behind Tobin Heath and Megan Rapinoe in this tournament.

"Nobody takes for granted the time that we have on the field and obviously we have such depth on the bench that it’s important to continue to showcase why you deserve to be on the field for those 90 minutes or however long you’re playing," Morgan told Omnisport. "For us, it’s just important for us to continue to play our tempo."

Lloyd, preparing for her fourth World Cup, also gave credit to the Americans' depth and she believes it will be enough for the U.S. to see success in France.

"It should give the group a lot of confidence knowing we’ve got so much depth to this team," Lloyd told Omnisport. "We can seriously be deadly and unstoppable. It’s coming together for everyone and so it’s looking good.”

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Chelsea Howard

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