Fifa Women's World Cup: USA faces flak for dated tactics

  • Reuters, Edmonton, Canada
  • Updated: Jun 24, 2015 12:04 IST

Despite winning gold in the last three Olympics and winning the Fifa women's World Cup twice, the United States women's football team has not impressed the critics with their performance in this year's edition of the tournament.

The women's game is growing - and changing - at a rapid pace and at this World Cup, the Americans are hardly standing out from the pack.

Seeing the US eke out results against teams they once would have expected to thrash, is proving difficult to take. The US beat Colombia 2-0 in the second round to set up a quarter-final with China in Ottawa on Friday and coach Jill Ellis seemed a little irritated to be asked whether she was happy with the way her team were playing. "This is the World Cup, I am really satisfied with advancing," she said, before pointing out several positives about her team's performance.

"I thought we stroked the ball around pretty well at times. So I am pleased with where we are."

But it did not take long for Ellis' view to be challenged, with two-time World Cup winning midfielder Michelle Akers particularly critical in a radio interview on Sirius XM.

"If she is pleased with the way we played tonight then what the hell is she doing coaching our US team?" Akers asked. Akers said that as one of the golden generation that won the title in 1991 and 1999, she takes it personally when the team appears to be below expectations.

"When we struggle or when, in our opinion, the coach isn't handling the personnel right, the lineup sucks, the subs are sketchy, we're not all on the same page ... we take it personal because that's our baby out there."

The United States beat Australia and Nigeria and drew with Sweden in the group stage but never produced a dominating performance or an exciting one. With France playing sparkling, entertaining football and Germany looking slick as well as powerful, while other teams adopt a more sophisticated passing style, the Americans direct approach of sending plenty of high balls to 35-year-old target, captain Abby Wambach, looks a little dated even though it has worked.

The US start as favourites against China on Friday. However, with midfielders Megan Rapinoe and Lauren Holiday unavailable for the clash after receiving their second yellow cards of the tournament in the 2-0, round-of-16 win against Colombia on Monday and the fact that their opponents appear well set-up to frustrate a long-ball strategy, it could be another tense night for Ellis - and her critics.

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