Olympic Football: USA's Women's Football Defensive Debate
Ahead of the final women’s football group match of the Olympics, there has been controversy over favourites USA and their defending.
One of these critics is former player, Brandi Chastain. Chastain, who played 192 times for the American national team, stated her opinion of one player in particular in an interview on NBC (h/t ESPN). She said, “As a defender, your responsibilities are to defend...win the ball, and then keep possession...that's something that [defender] Rachel Buehler actually needs to improve on in this tournament."
However, this was met with disdain by current goalkeeper, Hope Solo. She addressed Chastain on the social networking site Twitter, where she replied:
Chastain replied in an NBC interview (h/t Yahoo), “My only comment is I am in London to cover women's soccer for NBC in an honest and objective fashion, and that is what I have done, and will continue to do for the rest of the tournament.”
Some would argue that Chastain’s criticism was harsh. Buehler, 26, has been part of an American team which has topped the group, only conceding two goals, both of which were hardly defensive lapses, against the French.
Therefore, many eyes were on the American defence in the final game against Korea DPR. However, the 1-0 victory for Team USA saw no potent attack from the North Koreans, and the Americans wasted a hatful of chances.
Alex Morgan saw a fine effort saved by O Chang Ran inside the first 10 minutes before she saw her shot strike the upright.
In the 15th minute, however, the pressure told, as a neat turn from Morgan created space for her to set up teammate and prolific striker Abby Wambach, who slotted the ball in from around nine yards out. Wambach was then denied a second from a glancing header before another effort hit the woodwork.
It took the Koreans all of 86 minutes to finally muster an effort of their own, five minutes after striker and first-half substitute, Mi Gyong Choe, was dismissed for a second bookable offence.
Another win and another clean sheet for Team USA, however, the defending wasn’t up to scratch, as Hope Solo stated to the media after the game (h/t USA Today), “It wasn’t the best (performance) in terms of organization, defending and covering.”
Overall, it is too early to assess the strength of the American defending. The strongest opposition they have played in the group stages were the French who managed to score twice. Next up for the Americans are New Zealand in the quarterfinals. As Solo acknowledged, they “know how to rise to the occasion.”
This piece was written by Mike Marron of The Reporters' Academy, a media production company run by young people. The Reporters' Academy is integrated into the world of media, education and employment, based in two great sporting cities, Manchester and Melbourne, and is officially inspired by London 2012.
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