In a sign of the times, Australia can’t seem to find any depth in its roster. The USWNT’s rout on Monday gave hope that their next opponent might not be as tough as expected, but it also exposed weaknesses from an Australian perspective.
The USWNT rout puts the spotlight on Australia’s lack of depth. The Australian women’s soccer team was beaten by the USWNT in a penalty shootout. The game put the spotlight on Australia’s lack of depth. Read more in detail here: sports.
AUSTRALIA’S SYDNEY — In a 3-0 triumph against Australia on Saturday, the United States seized the lead in only 24 seconds. Ashley Hatch scored her first-ever USWNT goal in less than half a minute, capitalizing on a defensive blunder.
It’s the ideal approach for the Americans to quiet a record-breaking home crowd. The pool seemed like the Pacific Ocean to Tony Gustavsson’s juvenile side when he was tossed in at the deep end.
With one eye on the 2023 Women’s World Cup, which Australia and Fresh Zealand will co-host, the Matildas coach has taken his search for new national team players to new heights. In 2021, Jessika Nash, a 17-year-old defender, became the 13th Australian player to earn her international debut.
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That wasn’t the only unexpected decision in the starting XI, however. It would be reasonable to expect a seasoned veteran, such as Clare Polkinghorne or Alanna Kennedy, to accompany the youngster in a match against probably the finest team in the world. The two, however, were not included in the matchday squad after being rested and ruled out due to injury, respectively. Steph Catley and Ellie Carpenter were not even pulled centrally from their full-back duties to assist.
Instead, Courtney Nevin, a 19-year-old Melbourne Victory fullback, sat near Nash. The Matildas’ future — or at least a possible version of it — was now, with five caps between them, all belonging to Nevin.
The defensive pair’s inexperience was on full show in that disastrous first minute. Hatch pounced on a poor header, a missed clearing, and a lack of togetherness. The Washington Spirit attacker effortlessly outmuscled Nash, who is almost a decade her younger, and put the USWNT ahead, and silenced the 36,109 home supporters.
The fight between Nash and Hatch highlighted where both sides are in their life cycles. Both coaches are using this two-game series in Australia to evaluate some new players, but their respective sides have dramatically different characteristics.
The Matildas employed some of their seasoned core among the new players in their starting XIs on Saturday. The line-up averaged 62 caps, compared to 32 for the USWNT. On both teams, there was a debutant.
The age profiles, however, were reversed. The USWNT’s starting lineup was all between the ages of 23 and 28. The Matildas’ age ranged from 17 to 30 years old. It’s a motif that becomes much more apparent when seen in the light of the series’ larger teams.
Gustavsson’s squad had 11 players aged 23 or younger, including six youngsters. The USWNT has five players under the age of 23 and none under the age of 21.
Nash and Hatch provide us concrete examples of what those data teach us. Hatch is 26 years old and the league’s Golden Boot winner, having just won the NWSL Championship with Washington. In her third appearance for the USWNT, she scored her first goal. Nash, on the other hand, made her senior Matildas debut in the middle of the defence. It occurred little over a year after she made her A-League Women debut with Canberra United when she was 16 years old. On another day, Emily van Egmond, who is best used as a creative, attacking No. 10, may have been backed by a more experienced defensive partner or even screened by an out and out No. 6 rather than Emily van Egmond, who is best used as a creative, attacking No. 10.
As the USWNT celebrates its first goal on Saturday, Australia’s Jessika Nash returns for the restart. Getty Images/Mark Kolbe
Nash’s debut was tough as a result of all of these factors. Her day came to an end at halftime, when Charli Grant took her place and right-back Carpenter moved in behind Nevin. But this is the reality that Australia is dealing with right now: a lack of depth, a need for outcomes both internally and internationally, and a fast-approaching home World Cup with sky-high expectations. Gustavsson confessed as much after the game.
“We need back-line depth, and we need to look at people and be daring enough to put them in these sorts of situations,” Gustavsson added.
“If this were 15 years ago, and I were coaching, I’d probably give them 10 minutes at the end of the game when we’d either won or lost the game, but those minutes aren’t worth as much as warming up, in front of a record crowd, with the United States in front of you, in the stadium where the World Cup final will be held.”
“What we need is for them to be able to cope with it in that atmosphere.”
If the Matildas had worn their shooting boots, the narrative could have been somewhat different. If the Matildas had scored some goals themselves, the defensive blunders that contributed to each of the United States’ goals would have been mitigated.
In the 38th minute, Kyah Simon missed a sitter. On the left wing, Caitlin Foord’s lead-up move was outstanding, but Simon’s effort prompted an impromptu stadium-wide Mexican wave of hands on heads as the ball flew up and over.
Foord and Sam Kerr both had opportunities that required spectacular saves from new US goalkeeper Casey Murphy.
The North Carolina Courage shot stopper, 25, was another player who exemplified how, although Vlatko Andonovski’s team may be lacking in international experience, it makes up for it in other areas.
Her Player of the Match title was well-deserved, but it also reflected the amount of opportunities the Matildas missed. Meanwhile, the United States Women’s National Team took a gamble. That was plenty for now for a squad that hadn’t spent much time together.
“We barely had two or three days of practice in preparation for this match,” Murphy said after the game.
“So each of those activities required a lot of attention to detail and concentration, and a lot of the work was done in our film sessions. So, even though we only had a small amount of time to prepare for the game, we knew we had to do everything we could and manage what we could control in the lead-up to the match.”
Casey Murphy’s first game for the USWNT was a triumph, and she deservedly won the Player of the Match award and a clean sheet. Icon Sportswire/Steven Markham/Speed Media
The second goal came from a more experienced foot, demonstrating the distinction between young and inexperienced and merely inexperienced.
Margaret Purce got into a fight with Nevin while running down the right side. The Gotham FC striker beat Nevin to get free and cut the ball back for Rose Lavelle to slide beneath Matildas goalkeeper Teagan Micah, earning her seventh cap.
Lindsey Horan, wearing the captain’s armband, converted from the spot to make it three, before Ashley Sanchez (22), Morgan Weaver, and Bethany Balcer made their debuts for Andonovski (both 24).
In the end, both teams were able to give less experienced players game time. After all, even the most unskilled gamers must begin somewhere. It may be a gruesome procedure at times.
The harshness of the USWNT’s performance was reflected in the score, which did not fit the performance.
The playing group was already less acquainted with one another and had less time to collaborate. They were ruthless when their opponents were squandering. And if this is the beginning of the team’s new era, there aren’t many worse places to start.
The growing pains involved with developing depth for Australia are painful to see, especially given the enormous expectations put on this squad.
Gustavsson may have exposed Nash to circumstances above her ability level too quickly and without the necessary backup. That isn’t to say she won’t be ready in the future.
This game might be the start of a lengthy national team career if handled properly. All of the squad’s debutants have received and will continue to get support, according to veteran striker Simon.
She said, “We play the sport for these situations.” “You can only learn from your errors, and you know, missing an opportunity like that at over 100 caps for myself… it doesn’t get any easier from your first cap to 100+.”
“So we’ll absolutely get past the gals,” says the narrator. And I believe we have a really supportive group of girls and a fantastic group of women on the national squad, so congratulations to the girls on their maiden cap.
“At the same time, we take satisfaction in our achievements and victories. And we all know that wasn’t good enough today, so we’ll move on to Tuesday for a game that will hopefully be more memorable.”
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The “us soccer federation” is a national governing body that oversees the sport of soccer in the United States. The team has been struggling with depth lately, and it was on display against Australia.
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