Connect with us

Soccer

How the U.S. can develop in their possession – Equalizer Soccer

Published

on




In this four-part series, we at The Equalizer are going deep into the U.S. women’s national team’s style of play, tactics and selections, analyzing what’s working, what’s not and how head coach Vlatko Andonovski might try to fix remaining issues before the 2023 FIFA World Cup.

Part one explored the U.S.’ defensive setup and personnel. Part two analyzed their pressing game. Part three focused on the counter-attacking threat, and how to maximize it. In part four, we will look at the team’s possession game: what Andonovski has tried to add and where it can develop.

The past

The history of the U.S.’ possession game has some recurring themes. One is skipping the midfield in build-up, playing straight into the frontline, with a ball along the ground or in the air towards a focal point combining good control with strength and aerial power — Michelle Akers, Abby Wambach, Carli Lloyd — or quickly feeding a fast, tricky winger as quickly as possible to get them 1-v-1. Another theme is the fullbacks playing a more supportive role. Rarely getting beyond the frontline, they have traditionally been tasked with initiating build-up and ensuring a stable base in case of turnovers.

More complexity has come into the team’s possession in recent times, particularly under Jill Ellis. At the 2015 World Cup there was a 4-4-2 where the wingers regularly drifted inside and Lloyd played slightly off of Alex Morgan up front, providing options to hit between the lines. The 2016 Olympic quarterfinal defeat to Sweden saw probably the most complex attacking setup seen in national team history: an asymmetrical system where one fullback stayed deep and the other pushed up; and one winger stayed wide and the other came infield.

That system didn’t really work — lacking dynamism on the left, it was too predictable and Pia Sundhage’s total defense, low block 4-5-1 Sweden team ground out a victory. After that, there was some more experimentation before Ellis got back to basics in the 2019 World Cup. There were wingers that stretched the field, receiving diagonals from the back (see: Abby Dahlkemper’s ball to Christen Press below) and running at their opponents. Sometimes the attacking midfielders would pull wide to work with the fullbacks, overloading the opponent on the flanks.

Access the best women’s soccer coverage all year long

Start your FREE, 7-day trial of The Equalizer Extra for industry-leading reporting and insight on the USWNT, NWSL and beyond.





Source link

Continue Reading

Soccer

The trading card boom is a big deal for the NWSL, too – Equalizer Soccer

Published

on

By




There’s no question about it: Trading cards are back and more popular than ever thanks to a resurgence sparked by the COVID-19 pandemic

Stuck at home with many sports shut down for significant portions of 2020, these cards provided a simple, stay-at-home hobby that kept people connected to the teams and players they loved. As a result, sports cards have been flying off the shelves and analysts are now predicting the market will grow by nearly $7 billion between 2021 and 2026.

For growing sports entities like the National Women’s Soccer League, the trading cards market is also a major opportunity. One of women’s soccer’s biggest selling points is its high level of engagement with fans. In a digital world, physical trading cards satisfy an innate human desire to own a tangible piece of history around the teams and the players they support.  

“It’s romantic,” Parkside Collectibles co-founder Matt Peek tells The Equalizer about the experiences surrounding trading cards. “It is one of the most pure and wonderful exchanges that can happen.” 

In 2020, Parkside Collectibles became the first company to produce a series of cards dedicated solely to women’s soccer when the company released a limited run commemorating the inaugural NWSL Challenge Cup. Companies like Topps and Upper Deck had included special inserts for major U.S. women’s national team players in runs of men’s soccer cards over the years, but no one had ever attempted anything to the scale or with the singular focus that Parkside did.

All 3,000 sets of that original Challenge Cup run sold out quickly despite only being available on the fledgling company’s website. Once Parkside proved the market existed, the company followed up with vastly expanded series in 2021 and 2022, each featuring hundreds of player base cards and numerous special inserts like glossy and signature cards. New distribution deals with Amazon, Walmart and Target also massively increased accessibility. 

The fact that these cards can now be found in major retailers all over the United States, hanging next to huge brands like Topps and Pokémon, is unprecedented. Despite exponential growth in recent years, women’s soccer merchandise remains hard to find. What little is made is often extremely limited in variety, like the U.S. women’s national team Funko Pops featuring only four players. Products are also limited in quantity as manufacturers perpetually underestimate demand

Access the best women’s soccer coverage all year long

Start your FREE, 7-day trial of The Equalizer Extra for industry-leading reporting and insight on the USWNT, NWSL and beyond.





Source link

Continue Reading

Soccer

The Equalizer Podcast: Mailbag – Equalizer Soccer

Published

on

By


Mallory Pugh and three U.S. women's national team teammates celebrate a goal.


Photo credit: Kyle Robertson/Columbus Dispatch/USA TODAY NETWORK

Jeff Kassouf answers your burning questions about the U.S. women’s national team, next year’s World Cup, NWSL free agency, NWSL expansion, and more.

Listen to this pod on:  Apple  |  Spotify  |  Google Podcasts  |  Stitcher  |  Anchor  |  PodBean  |  Pocket Casts  |  Breaker  |  Overcast  |  RadioPublic

Subscribers: Click below for the ad-free version.

Access the best women’s soccer coverage all year long

Start your FREE, 7-day trial of The Equalizer Extra for industry-leading reporting and insight on the USWNT, NWSL and beyond.





Source link

Continue Reading

Soccer

Real Madrid’s centerpiece – Equalizer Soccer

Published

on

By




Caroline Weir knows how to make an impact. In the 15th minute of her second start for Real Madrid, at home against her old club Manchester City, she immaculately controlled a bouncing ball on the turn in City’s penalty box. Working a shot on her favored left foot, she found the top corner to send her former teammates out of the Champions League before the group stage.

Watching Weir run to her new fans to celebrate must have been painful for the Manchester City contingent, but not surprising. The 27-year-old Scotland international midfielder has done this sort of thing before.

Playing in the first professional Manchester derby in September 2019, Weir scored the game’s only goal with a laser-like shot from outside of the box. The next season, she scored an even more audacious attempt in the same fixture. A drag-back took her past a defender before she beat goalkeeper Mary Earps with a sumptuous long-range chip. Earps — England’s No. 1 — was beaten again in similar fashion last term, Weir lobbing the ball into the far corner from distance to ensure another City victory over United.

Access the best women’s soccer coverage all year long

Start your FREE, 7-day trial of The Equalizer Extra for industry-leading reporting and insight on the USWNT, NWSL and beyond.





Source link

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Trending