Three observations from the USWNT's blowout win over Panama

Comments()
Thomas Shea
The U.S. easily defeated the Central Americans on Sunday to continue a strong start to World Cup qualifying

The U.S. women’s national team named a much-changed lineup on Sunday against Panama but just as it did on Thursday against Mexico, it cruised to an easy World Cup qualifying victory. 

This time the U.S. won 5-0 at Sahlen's Stadium in Cary, N.C., all but clinching a spot in the semifinals of the Concacaf Women's Championship. The team will qualify for next summer's World Cup with a victory in the semifinal round. 

The Panamanians were overmatched from the off and were it not from a fantastic performance from 17-year-old goalkeeper Yenith Bailey, the score could have truly gotten out of hand. 

Here are three observations from the USWNT's win.


Ellis rings the changes


Jill Ellis USWNT Friendly 06052016

The U.S. dismantled Mexico 6-0 on Thursday night, and head coach Jill Ellis opted for heavy rotation on Sunday against Panama. The U.S. started only two of the same 11 players that faced El Tri on Thursday, with just Abby Dahlkemper and Julie Ertz keeping their places. If the U.S. reaches the final as expected, it will have five matches in less than two weeks, so Ellis’ rotation is sensible if not simply an outright necessity.

"The sole reason was to manage this tournament," Ellis said in her post-game press conference regarding the changes. 

"It was really about making sure it’s a 13-day type deal with five games – it’s a lot. We have the ability to do that and I think with the talent we have on this team it makes sense."

The U.S. is playing its most meaningful games in more than two years, but Ellis would have been in little doubt before the game that her reserves could handle 66th-ranked Panama easily. In truth, Ellis’ reserves would match up favorably with some of the world’s best sides, such is the USWNT’s depth, so it was far from a surprise to see the U.S. easily take care of business on Sunday.

"It shows the team has a lot of depth when you can make nine changes and come out and play a similar brand of soccer," midfielder Sam Mewis said. 

"We are so thorough in our training and in our preparation, the points that this team is focusing on are really hammered home to every player and I give the coaching staff a lot of credit for giving us that opportunity."


Mace pulls double duty


Emily Sonnett Carli Lloyd Hailie Mace USWNT 2018

The official U.S. Soccer Twitter account confirmed the team would start Sunday’s match in its usual 4-3-3 formation, with Hailie Mace starting next to Abby Dahlkemper at center back. When the game kicked off though, the USWNT lined up with a three-player back line, and Mace actually lined up as a forward next to Carli Lloyd.

Mace rotating between forward and defense isn’t actually a big surprise, considering the UCLA star began her collegiate career as a defender before shifting to forward. It certainly was a surprise, though, to see her move from forward back to defense just 10 minutes into Sunday’s game against Panama.

Ellis explained after the game that Mace playing the first 10 minutes up top was in order to practice for a situation that may come up in the future. 

"A lot of what we’re trying to do is train for situations," Ellis explained. "It’s not just about today’s game, it’s about adding more to our game. In situations where perhaps there are five minutes left and you need to force a goal, what does that look like?

"As a coach I think there’s different situations that I'd rather manage now and see them and learn from them now then wait until next summer."

It may not say a lot about the level of competition that Ellis used the first 10 minutes of a World Cup qualifier as a training exercise, but that's exactly what happened on Sunday night. 


Lloyd shows well in rare start


Carli Lloyd USWNT

Prior to Sunday’s start, Carli Lloyd’s last eight appearances for the national team came off the bench. The two-time FIFA World Player of the Year appears set for a substitute role next summer at the World Cup when she’s 37 years old, but against Panama Lloyd showed she can still make an impact from the off by netting a hat trick, her eighth career treble with the USWNT.

While she once filled an attacking midfield role for the U.S., these days Lloyd plays further up the field as the lone striker in her team’s 4-3-3 formation. Alex Morgan is the unquestioned starter at that particular position, but on Sunday Lloyd showed she can still play a vital role if needed.

"I can’t say you expect anything less," Ellis said of Lloyd. "Ultimately what she gives us is the ability to score goals and to see her get a hat trick tonight was great."

Next article:
Klopp tipped by Liverpool legend to dip back into transfer market for Van Dijk partner
Next article:
Allegri: Supercoppa clash practice for Champions League knockouts
Next article:
Henry, Vieira look forward to reunion when Monaco host Nice
Next article:
MLS confirms Austin FC as 27th team, will begin play in 2021
Next article:
USMNT defender Zimmerman signs new contract with Los Angeles FC
Close