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Jill Ellis has several key tactical decisions to make ahead of USA vs Germany semi-final


US Women’s National Team Head Coach Jill Ellis faces several key tactical decisions to make ahead of Tuesday night’s Women’s World Cup semi-final against Germany.

Despite excellent results, the United States has struggled throughout the Women’s World Cup to get Carli Lloyd, the best goal-scoring midfielder in the world, into advanced positions on the field. On Friday night, in the 1-0 quarterfinal win against China, Lloyd scored the lone goal of the match from open play. It was precisely the type of impact Lloyd can make if she gets more flexibility to make forward runs. But prior to the China game, Ellis was reluctant to allow Lloyd the ability to get forward regularly, as keeping an unbreakable shape appeared to be the leading concern for the head coach.

Heading into Tuesday’s semifinal against Germany, Ellis has a few potential decisions to make. Thus far in the tournament, the United States has played a rigid 4-4-2 with two central midfielders generally sitting very deep, two wingers often cutting inside and two out-and-out strikers up front. Unfortunately, the strikers have at times been disconnected from the flow of play. However, the United States’ shape at the back has been nearly unbreakable, and the US has now gone nine consecutive halves of soccer without conceding a goal.

Lauren Holiday was suspended for the quarterfinal match and replaced in the lineup by Morgan Brian, the young midfielder who has led the University of Virginia to the College Cup Final last year. Brian’s sense of positioning and decision making was nearly flawless against China. With Holiday returning from suspension, it is difficult to rationalize dropping Brian. Perhaps a three-woman central midfield would work, meaning the US would play some version of a 4-5-1 against Germany.

SEE MOREGet the Women’s World Cup TV schedule and bracket.

The United States attack has been lacking in this tournament getting just two goals from the striker position. However, against China, the inclusion of the lightning-quick Amy Rodriguez in one of the striker positions allowed the US to play a high-pressing game and to dictate the tempo and flow of the match right from the onset.

To beat Germany, it is assumed the United States will have to play Abby Wambach, the second all-time leading goal scorer in Women’s World Cup history. But perhaps Ellis can start the United States in either a 4-5-1 that allows Lloyd to get forward more and test the keeper from distance, or a 4-4-2 which once again features Rodriguez up top for the purposes of pressing and making the German backline uncomfortable when in possession. Either way, Ellis should employ a system that allows Carli Lloyd to make an impact in the attacking third.

Given the US’ defensive record, getting a single goal just might be enough to eliminate the Germans and move on to the final.


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  1. Brad

    June 29, 2015 at 10:02 pm

    I think Arod should start over Wambach and the US tries to pressure like they did last match. France had some success pressuring Germany and using the speed on the flanks for their attack. Hoping Ellis tries to attack the same way and the US finishes the chances they get. If the defense is good again this match I think they can take down Germany.

  2. David

    June 29, 2015 at 2:32 pm

    I really hope Abby Wambach is not starting against Germany. The attack looks awful when she is in there. Wambach has had a terrible World Cup overall.

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