In case you were unaware, the US Women’s National Soccer Team is currently playing in the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada. Thus far the US managed to make it out of the so called “group of death” and past the Round of 16 to move into the quarterfinals. The Stars and Stripes are currently ranked #2 in the world, but certainly haven’t been looking like it. The main issue arises from a slightly disorganized midfield. Midfielders play both offense and defense. There appears to be some confusion as to which player is the attacking and which is the defending player. The line up the US is using most commonly calls for one of each. That way, while the attacking mid is playing forward scoring goals and making plays, the defending mid is there behind ready to hold the middle. The US, however, is playing an attacking midfielder in both positions. A recent article I read discussing this issue, found here if you’re a soccer nerd like me, left a clear solution in mind: Clearly Defined Expectations!
The article, though a bit harsh at times, very astutely points out the fact that Carli Lloyd and Lauren Holiday, the US’s current starting midfield pair, are not performing to their usual standard, simply because they’re being asked to play in positions that are not their strengths. Both of these players prefer, and are very good at, creating plays, making runs forward and attacking goal, which leaves our midfield empty and wide open for an opponent’s quick counter attack. It would appear that the midfield roles have not been clearly defined.
If the team could take a moment to clearly define what is expected out of each of the two central midfield positions, they would be able to see clearly what type of player is needed, especially for the more defensive type position. That player may, or may, not be on the bench, but at the very least, they would be able to identify a more natural fit for the currently non-existent holding midfielder. This would leave Lloyd and Holiday free to do what they do best: attack, create and score!