Vlatko Andonovski: “I felt like we were not clinical enough or precise enough in our final pass.” (USA TODAY Sports)
By Michael Lewis
The aftermath of the U.S. women’s national team’s sub-par performance during its recent European friendly losses reminded us how difficult it can be to generate offense.
Scoring but once and not showing much creativity in front of the opposing net while scoring but once in two games was a not-so-subtle reminder. The USA lost to England, 2-1, on Oct. 7 and suffered a cero a dos result in Spain four days later.
If the Americans have any serious aspirations of making it a three-peat in the Women’s World Cup, that needs to get better, pronto.
And head coach Vlatko Andonovski knows that needs to improve, whether the team has a full squad or players trying to impress him to make the squad for the 2023 World Cup in New Zealand and Australia.
“I felt like we were not clinical enough or precise enough in our final pass,” he said during a media Zoom call on Monday afternoon. “We were able to combine and do well after the final third and then when we had to get the final pass whether for a shot or final pass or for an assist [that] was the area that we’d have to be better at.”
Andonovski said things could change if several attack-minded players returned from injuries. That included the likes of forwards Christen Press, Tobin Heath and Lynn Williams and midfielder Catarina Macario.
“We want to put everything on the side and just focus on the things that we need to get better at or focus on the things that we were missing,” he said. “But we cannot neglect that some of those things may be fixed with just the change in personnel.
“I don’t want to go into details, but this team may look slightly different or somewhat different three months or four months or five months from now.”
Very few teams can field a “perfect” Starting XI for the World Cup.
So, Andonovski and company certainly have their work cut out for themselves.
While the World Cup won’t start for another eight months, the team doesn’t have much time to get its act together. The Americans have nine games remaining on their international schedule.
“Every game is important,” Andonovski said. “But now that we know the opponents, now that we know what the pathway to winning the World Cup is going to be, we can dive a little bit deeper into even more. Every match is important. Every training is important. Every meeting is important and everybody in the environment understands the importance of every second that we spend together.”
Two of those nine matches will be in November, when the USA hosts Germany in two friendlies – in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. on Nov. 10 and at Red Bull Arena on Nov. 13.