A week into the 2011 Women’s World Cup, and the US Women’s National Team couldn’t be in a better position then they are right now. There were multiple doubts about the No. 1 team in the world concerning Hope Solo’s injury, defensive arrangements and overall depth coming into the tournament. Two games and six points later, the USWNT stand on top of Group C and safely into the knockout round.
Want to know who has been essential to the US’ recent success? Here are my weekly player reviews for the USWNT.
Coming into the tournament, there was no question that striker was the position thoroughly sufficient on the US Women’s roster. With Wambach and Rodriguez up top, fans could sleep easy knowing that they would get significant striker production in this World Cup. Even though the US is currently undefeated, those easy nights might turn into restless nightmares if the striker pair continues their unfortunate form.
Abby Wambach: I don’t think you can even call it unlucky at this point. Before the tournament, Wambach clearly stirred the soccer gods’ soup the wrong way, causing her to feel anything but jubilation in this World Cup. Multiple great scoring chances have slipped through her fingers, making me and many other USWNT fans wondering if she will ever find the net. The Verdict: 6.0
Amy Rodriguez: Although probably the more encouraging striker of the two, Rodriguez should also find herself scratching her head, pondering why she hasn’t lit up the scoreboard. Suddenly, the USWNT’s problems scarily resemble those of the Men’s. The Verdict: 6.5
Alex Morgan: The dynamic youngster hasn’t seen too much time so far in this World Cup, and has thus been incapable of impressing or disappointing hopeful USWNT fans. The Verdict: 6.0
Who could have guessed that nearly every goal by the USA after two games was off the foot of an American midfielder? Although Cheney and O’Reilly have stood out from the pack, the rest of the midfield has done anything but stay in the shadows. The fierce defensive pressure supplied in the midfield has been a main reason why the US has been so dominant through two games and secured a spot in the next round.
Lauren Cheney: The winger has been nothing short of magnificent so far this tournament. Cheney has been arguably the most active US player on the offensive side and has created multiple opportunities for herself and teammates throughout the tournament. If it weren’t for a few unlucky bounces, Cheney could have a couple more assists and goals to her name. The Verdict: 9.0
Heather O’Reilly: O’Reilly has been strong in both of the USWNT’s matches so far this tournament. Her willingness to test the keeper from afar has been essential to the US offense, providing a change of pace and allowing the frequent crosses to be a little less predictable. She also is a candidate for Goal of the Tournament after her “wonder-strike” against Colombia. The Verdict: 8.5
Carli Lloyd: Lloyd has been a great distributor for the US out of the Central Midfield. Her aggressive shots paid off last match as she netted her first career World Cup goal. The Verdict: 8.0
Shannon Boxx: The veteran midfielder seems to have played her way out of a starting spot after an average performance against North Korea. The rise of Lindsay should not bode well for Boxx in the upcoming games. The Verdict: 5.0
Lori Lindsay: The spot starter’s good game on Saturday was a pleasant surprise for Pia Sundhage and the USWNT. Though the statbook might not show it, Lindsay played a significant role in the USA’s 3-0 rout over Colombia. The good performance might mean some more playing time for the young midfielder. The Verdict: 7.5
Megan Rapinoe: Rapinoe has truly been a super-sub so far for the USWNT. In the few minutes that she has played, Rapinoe has been extremely active on the offensive end and has provided a strong argument to be put back in the First XI. If her play hasn’t yet caught your attention, her celebration surely has. The Verdict: 8.0
Even if you haven’t watched a single minute of the USWNT’s World Cup campaign, seeing two straight shutouts in the daily newspaper should easily explain their defensive dominance early in the tournament. Though there were communication problems at the start of the North Korea game, the US defense kept Hope Solo’s blood pressure down the last 145 minutes of play. Excellent defensive pressure near midfield and successful clearing are the primary reasons why the USWNT are undefeated and already into the Knockout round.
Ali Krieger: The Virginia native has been relatively quiet through the first two games of the tournament. However, when called upon, she has completed the task at hand. The Verdict: 6.5
Christie Rampone: The captain has been strong in the back for the USWNT so far. Her experience and maturity will do wonders for the team later in the tournament. The Verdict: 7.0
Rachel Buehler: Although Buehler struggled clearing the ball against North Korea, she was a rock for the US against Colombia. She also managed to score the dagger against North Korea to secure the essential three points. The Verdict: 6.5
Amy LePeilbet: The weakest link of the US defense might have played her final World Cup minutes after two disappointing performances. Though constantly attacked in the first match, LePeilbet failed to step up to the challenges and contain her opponents with confidence. An uninspiring second match resulted in a second half substitution. The Verdict: 4.5
Hope Solo: What shoulder injury? Solo has done everything that has been expected of her so far this tournament and single handedly silenced the doubters in just two games. If you;re Solo, you can only hope that Briana Scurry isn’t lurking around the US bench. The Verdict: 7.5