A replay of the match that put us on the map last year, and gee it was a cracker. Only recently I would have been brimming with the idea of the Matildas leading a game against the US for the better part of an hour, and to get any type of result against them. I would have looked at the 1-1 result and thought ‘hey at least we were in it and they didn’t win’. However today I feel cheated. It’s always hard being on the wrong end of a 90 minute goal, especially when it is a headed goal from a corner from a player who you usually rejoice when they get them (look Horan has saved Portland Thorns a number of times this season thanks to her ability to head home a cross).
I was live tweeting the game from @thewomensgame on twitter. So I’ve got absolutely no notes from the game, as my multitasking skills are to not be trusted when I’m meant to be doing live updates from a match, trust me on weekends the moment someone starts talking to me my updates become like a distracted uni student’s notes in a lecture, aka they usually turn out poor. So in lieu of a proper run down of the match, I’m here to tell you some key points that couldn’t fit into the word limit/time restrictions of live tweeting a match.
Lydia Williams to the Rescue.
When defending for lengths of time (and I mean LENGTHS of time), your goalkeeper is your most valuable asset. They can see all the park, keep your tired defenders organised and pull out the big saves to keep your team in it. Williams did that today. One instance that comes to mind is from a quick throw in, which for the record I really would dig if it wasn’t against a team I support, no one knew the ball was back in play, including the TV camera guys, but Williams rose to the occasion and the next shot you’ve got on your screen is the ball safely in her hands. Williams has consistently shown she is good for the Matildas. She was good today.
I’m not adding anything else after Rapinoe’s name, there is no need to further embellish. As good as Williams was in goal for us, Rapinoe was good for them. All game Rapinoe persistently caused problems. There was one moment around the 80th minute I thought ‘ah she is running out of gas’. But 10 minutes later and it’s Rapinoe’s corner kick that leads to the goal. If you want to watch how a player can run with the ball into space, plus create space without the ball, just watch Rapinoe. Absolutely ridiculous and if anyone wants to say she shoulda scored, or hogged the ball or anything, then fight me because for a whole lot of the game Rapinoe was the only one setting Alex Morgan up with chances or simply just showing more fight than moving the ball on to the next person in line.
Right Side, What Side?
Look, I’ve said it before, but we’ve got issues at right back ok. I know I was just talking up Rapinoe, who played on the left side, making any right backs life hell. BUT too often our right side looked weak and got exposed. Ellie Carpenter will be a great player for us. But if we want a balanced side for next years World Cup, Carpenter is not the answer unfortunately. Even think in the long run I’m convinced Carpenter will develop into more of a defensive midfield or CB role, so for me giving her so many chances at right back is wasted from a developing her in a positional sense. A solution at right back? No idea, hoping this next W-League season can see someone stake a claim for the spot and hopefully there is time and opportunity for that.
We Can Defend!
Finally we were tested again, but we are a side that can actually defend and still play well without the ball. In a game reminiscent of old World Cup games in the 2000’s (2006 I’m mostly looking at you to be honest), this was a game where we weren’t the ones to hold possession or dictate play. This is unlike recent games against Brazil and a number of our Asian Cup games where we were the side to dictate the tempo and hold the ball for long periods of time. Even if our right side was the weaker, defensively on a whole we were solid, I mean there is no other way a team could keep the US at bay for 90 minutes without being so. The game our forwards often playing deeper than our midfielders. Every player was involved in keeping the ball out of our goal for so long. It was quality. Also Alanna Kennedy for me bossed it again tonight.
LDV is Pure Gold
Couldn’t finish off this post without mention of the Matildas goal. Playing off the counter can be hard work, but with pace upfront we looked like we fully intended to simply rely on the break and to out run our opponents. The goal was purely a demonstration of this game plan. Lisa De Vanna pushed Marta and Sam Kerr out of the spotlight and reminded everyone just how good she is. Winning the ball deep in defence, LDV then ran at least half a pitch length, probably further, to then smoothly slot the ball through to Logarzo who had made a diagonal run to receive the ball between the defenders. The run was magic, Chloe Logarzo’s finish was class and it sent my heart soaring.
Next up is Japan. I’m not certain I’m ready a replay of the Asian Cup final, but we’re going to get it anyway.
Brazil 2 – 1 Japan
USA 1 – 1 Australia
Australia v Japan – Friday 3 August 7.45AM [catch it on FoxSports or the MyFootball app]