U-20 USWNT: 2012 CONCACAF Championship Match Analysis

Adding to my quick recap, here’s a much more detailed look at the 2012 CONCACAF Women’s Under-20 Championship final between the USA and Canada. All of the USA’s 28 shots and 15 corner kicks are broken down. Plus, for each USA player, notes are included on the good and not-so-good things that the player did during the match.

The match was an instant classic, both in the history of of the CONCACAF Championship as well as the USA-Canada rivalry at this age-level. For the fifth time in the Championship, the final was decided by a one goal margin, and for the fifth time in USA-Canada championship matches at this level, it was also decided by a one goal margin. In terms of historical comparisons, it started out like the 2008 final (where the USA gave up a goal on a defensive error), but turned into something along the lines of the 2006 final (a USA comeback), yet without the USA going down a woman due to a red card.

And, although the USA won (barely), there is still plenty of work that needs to be done between now and July.

* * *

OVERALL

The USA dominated the match in terms of offensive statistics: 28/7 in  shots — although just 10 on-goal while Canada had 4 on-goal  — and 15/2 in corner kicks. Time of possession, which only includes actual minutes played, would probably have been  around 60/40.

Concerning actual possession, the USA passed the ball consecutively for longer spells, include a couple 10+ consecutive passing efforts and gave away the ball less via bad passes. When Canada had the ball in its own half, the USA was much more aggressive in trying to dispossess Canadian players than vice-versa. At times, Canada seemed to sit back, allowing the USA’s backline and especially the USA’s holding midfielder, Samantha Mewis, time and space to easily pass the ball. In addition, the USA seemed to win more of Canada’s goal kicks, if not on the first ball, then shortly thereafter, before Canada could settle possession. For the most part, the USA controlled the tempo of the match, forcing Canada to pass more hurriedly and less accurately than the USA.

The USA’s passing was not perfect, as illustrated by Crystal Dunn’s errant cross which was intercepted by Canada’s Jenna Richardson, who scored Canada’s only goal in the 5th minute. Also, center-back Kassey Kallman also had a mis-hit header that fell nicely for Canada’s center forward, Christabel Oduro, who almost chipped in a shot over USA’s goalkeeper, Bryane Heaberlin, but that effort was well wide left of goal.

The USA’s best offensive build-up came in the first-half, when Canada forced the USA to retreat after a corner kick. After that happened, the USA strung together 13 consecutive passes and got the ball into Canada’s penalty box before Katie Stengel fed Crystal Dunn, who had well-struck shot that was just over the crossbar. A few minutes later, the USA had another good build-up which led to a shot on goal.

In the second-half, the USA had some good chances in the first five minutes, but the quality of their attack, for the most part, degraded from the 51st minute onward, until Kealia Ohai was substituted on in the 76th minute. For those 25 minutes, the USA was impatient with its offensive build-ups and its first four shots during this stretch were all from the top of the penalty box or outside of it.  (I have to disagree with US Soccer’s match report’s assessment on this one: “The quality of the USA’s attack improved as the second half progressed.”) Right before Ohai was subbed-on, the USA earned three corner kicks in a row and then a dangerous free kick on the left flank, which seemed to swing the momentum more to the USA’s side. When Ohai came on and the USA moved into a 3-3-4 formation, there was new energy.  And, once USA got the equalizer, that totally shifted the momentum to the USA’s favor.

This match illuminated three specific aspects on which the USA needs to improve on: (1) finishing and generally, shot decision-making; (2) on-field awareness and communication; and (3) corner kick plays. All of which are in addition to other fundamentals such as passing, ball movement, off-the-ball movement, et cetera. Furthermore, this championship final should be remembered as an “almost loss” rather than a comeback win.

On the positives for the USA, the major takeaway is how this team kept their spirits up and never really let their frustrations be shown. There was no on-field blaming regarding  mistakes. Players kept their cool. And, for the most part, this team kept working together and trying to score. What this team accomplished on the field last Sunday night will serve them well in Japan, as long as they continue to strive for improvement.

* * *

USA SHOT ATTEMPTS

  1. Horan: 1′, from left of goal, shot over the crossbar. Potential assist: Brian.
  2. Stengel: 7′, from near the penalty spot, but her grounder is blocked out of bounds for a corner kick by a CAN defender. Potential assist: Dunn.
  3. Mewis: 8′, second corner kick, a weak volley straight to D’Angelo. Potential assist: DiBernardo.
  4. Horan: 12′, from left of and above the penalty spot, a weak effort that is right to D’Angelo. Potential assist: Hayes.
  5. Stengel: 12′, from right of goal, a right-footed grounder that goes wide left. Potential assist: DiBernardo. (Probably should have left-footed it.)
  6. DiBernardo: 18′, from just above the penalty arc, a left-footed effort that goes a few yards wide of left goalpost. Potential assist: n/a. (Pathman cross headed out by CAN defender.)
  7. Horan: 23′, from inside the penalty arc, is blocked via a slide-tackle by one of the two defenders around Horan. Potential assist: Stengel. (Horan had an option to pass to her right where Brian was unmarked, who could have held and reset the play for a better shot.)
  8. Brian: 24′, above the right side of the penalty arc, a quick left-footed shot that sails high and left of goal. Potential assist: Stengel. (Left of goal was an open-ish Dunn, who could have received a pass from Brian, and then either moved in on goal and/or sent a return cross to one of the USA forwards.)
  9. Dunn: 27′, from above CAN’s penalty box, right of the penalty arc. A hard left-footed shot that goes just over the crossbar. Potential assist: Stengel. This was the best offensive build-up by the USA in the match. After a bad corner kick play, the USA strung together 13 consecutive passes: DiBernardo, (1) Brannon, (2) Dunn, (3) Mewis, (4) Dunn (who crosses all the way over to…), (5) Pathman, (6) Kallman, (7) Pathman, (8) Stengel, (9) DiBernardo, (10) Pathman, (11) Horan (not quite an intentional pass and perhaps it deflects off her defender, but it goes right to…), (12) Stengel, (13) Dunn.
  10. DiBernardo: 30′, from top of penalty box, back toward goal, spins around and shoots, right toward D’Angelo in the center of goal. Another good build-up, which started in the USA’s half, off a throw-in: Dunn (throw-in to…), Brian, Pathman, DiBernardo, Mewis, Pathman, Mewis, Brannon, Brian (who is dispossessed, but ball goes straight to…), Mewis, Stengel, DiBernardo. Potential assist: Stengel. (Also, Hayes was open on the left side. Probably a better decision would have been for DiBernardo to pass.)
  11. DiBernardo: 34′, from above the penalty arc, weakish, right to D’Angelo. Potential assist: unknown (missed due to replay).
  12. Stengel: 37′, from inside the six-yard box, right side. Stengel got her head on the ball, but ball goes wide-right. (Not an easy shot.) Potential assist: not sure (USA player headed the ball off a corner kick to Stengel).
  13. Brian: 42′, from left of the penalty arc, ball goes well high and left of the goal frame, but was apparently half-blocked by a CAN defender. Potential assist: Dunn.
  14. DiBernardo: 45′, inside CAN’s penalty box, even with the penalty spot, but a few yards left of the six yard box. A quick shot over the crossbar, by 2-3 yards. Potential assist: Dunn. (Ball was sent to Brian, but was too high for Brian to head the ball.)
  15. Horan: 47′, from the penalty arc, a quick shot that goes right of the goal. Potential assist: Ubogagu. (This was a quick attack started by a Heaberlin punt. So, not really a bad decision to go for goal with the shot.)
  16. Brian: 48′, a header from outside the six-yard box. Decent technique, but straight at D’Angelo. Potential assist: Dunn (cross from right flank).
  17. Brian: 49′, from inside the penalty arc, right edge. Shot goes wide left and high. Potential assist: Ubogagu. (Brian’s worst miss of the night. Edit: That was a crude way of saying that Brian had the most time and space on this shot as well as the most open goal frame area to shoot at of all of her shots in the match.)
  18. Horan: 58′, a volley near post, but right to a diving D’Angelo. Shot was from above left post, just inside the penalty box. Potential assist: Hayes. (Hayes and Horan had gotten behind CAN’s backline. Mewis with good vision for her long pass from the center circle to Hayes.)
  19. Ubogagu: 60′, from 5-7 yards outside the box, right of the penalty arc. Shot was lowish and right to D’Angelo. Potential assist: Dunn, maybe. (On the far left, Hayes was open and clearly onside. Hayes could have dribbled in on goal, 1-on-1 versus the ‘keeper, so not to the best decision to take a shot.)
  20. Brian: 61′, from outside the box, left of the arc, shot goes well high of the crossbar, left post. But, was apparently deflected by a CAN defender, so corner kick. (Video evidence is inconclusive.) Potential assist: Horan. (On the left, Hayes was open-ish, and thus a possible alternative for a shot.)
  21. Dunn: 66′, from a lateral run outside the box, a low shot to the far post (left) that D’Angelo grabs easily in a dive. Potential assist: Ubogagu. (Not sure if this was a straight shot or Dunn was hoping a USA player could redirect the shot.)
  22. Horan: 72′, a header wide right and high, from left-center above the six-yard box. Potential assist: Dunn. (Dunn was probably aiming for Hayes, so communication issue between Hayes and Horan?)
  23. Ubogagu: 74′, a quick half-chance shot from just outside the six-yard box in a corner kick scrum. Potential assist: Brian, maybe (Brian sent in a short pass which deflected off a falling Horan).
  24. Brian: 75′, off a corner kick, from right of center, above the six yard box, shot goes a few feet wide of the top left corner. Potential assist: n/a (D’Angelo clearance).
  25. Ubogagu: 78′, from a short dribble run that started outside the box, left of the penalty arc. Shot is weak as she is blocked by a CAN defender. Potential assist: Brian.
  26. Hayes: 79′, GOAL. Assist: Ohai. (described in previous article)
  27. Dunn: 86′, a grounder, near post, from outside the penalty box, but shot is a few feet wide. Potential assist: Laddish.
  28. Ubogagu:89′, GOAL. Assist: Ohai. (described in previous article)

Shots and Potential Assists Summary

  • Brian: 6 shots, 3 potential assists
  • Horan: 6 shots, 1 potential assist
  • DiBernardo: 4 shots, 2 potential assists
  • Ubogagu: 4 shots (including the winning goal), 1 potential assist
  • Dunn: 3 shots, 6 potential assists
  • Stengel: 3 shots, 4 potential assists
  • Hayes: 1 shot (the equalizing goal), 2 potential assists
  • Ohai: 2 actual assists
  • Mewis: 1 shot
  • Laddish: 1 potential assist

* * *

USA CORNER KICK ATTEMPTS

The USA had 15 attempts in the match. All but one were long passes to in front of the goal mouth. Six of the long kicks were first touched by D’Angelo. On four of those touches, D’Angelo was able to clear the ball out of danger. The other two touches went to a USA player. Five more were easily cleared by Canadian defenders. The USA only managed 5 shots during their 15 corner kicks. Only one of those shots was straight off a corner (Mewis, 8′).

(Note: The USSoccer.com match report only has 14 as the number of corner kicks for the USA.)

  1. 7:02. Left, DiBernardo. A low-ish cross into the six-yard box. Pawed out by D’Angelo. But not really cleared by Canada. DiBernardo won the ball back and earned the next corner kick.
  2. 7:30. Left, DiBernardo. Higher, far-post, outside six-yard box. Mewis with a weak volley-shot. (If Mewis had hit the ball softer, Stengel was right there to redirect the ball.)
  3. 19:24. Left, DiBernardo. A lofted cross into the top of the six-yard box, right to Brian, who is blocked by CAN #7 from getting a good touch. Ball bounces off CAN #7’s shoulder. CAN clears.
  4. 25:50. Left, DiBernardo. Short, to Hayes, then back to DiBernardo, but a CAN defender knocks the ball away, forcing DiBernardo to run after the ball. DiBernardo passes back to Pathman. (But, what happens after this was very positive.)
  5. 34:39. Left, DiBernardo. Lowish cross only gets to the near post. Punched out by D’Angelo.
  6. 36:49. Left, DiBernardo. Sent a few yards outside the six-yard box. USA player heads to Stengel, who gets a head on the ball but sends her shot wide right of goal.
  7. 39:45. Left, DiBernardo. Lofted cross to the far post, is headed clear by a CAN defender.
  8. 42:29. Left, DiBernardo. Only gets to the near post, is headed clear by a CAN defender.
  9. 52:52. Left, DiBernardo. Into the six-yard box, punched out by D’Angelo. But, only to Mewis, who sends it back toward goal. Horan tries a bicycle kick but whiffs or shanks it.
  10. 61:26. Left, DiBernardo. Near post. Headed high by Hayes to middle right of the penalty box. CAN clears.
  11. 70:20. Left, Laddish. Far post, punched out by D’Angelo. Ball spins out for another corner.
  12. 70:54. Right, Pathman. A long, far post floater. No one with a good touch. Mewis tracks down the ball outside the box. Eventually Dunn crosses to Hayes, but Horan is also right there and heads a shot wide right and weak. A CAN defender clears the ball out of bounds.
  13. 73:07. Left, Laddish. Center of six-yard box, close to goal. Pawed out by D’Angelo, but only to Brian, who sends it back into the scrum. Eventually Ubogagu gets a shot, which is deflected high and right for another corner.
  14. 73:40. Right, Pathman. Sent far-post. No good touches. Cleared by Canada for another corner kick.
  15. 74:07. Left, Laddish. Similar to her first corner: into the six-yard box, tight to the goal. D’Angelo paws out the ball, but right to Brian, whose first shot-like effort is a total shank. On the second try, Brian sends a shot a few feet left of the top left corner.

USA Free Kick (Deep)

  • 30:32. Left flank, about ten yards from sideline, 15-20 yards above the CAN box. Taken by DiBernardo. 2-player wall. A hard, lowish cross to the far post, but a USA player apparently fouled Ezurike.
  • 67:45. Left flank, even with the penalty spot, 4-5 yards from the sideline. Taken by Brian after DiBernardo is just subbed off. Brian’s kick is low, straight to a CAN defender.

* * *

PLAYER NOTES

These are only for the Canada match. For the most part, I have ignored passing errors except in a few major cases. And, I have ignored off-the-ball movement (for an explanation see this ZonalMarking.net article), as that is something which I need to read up on more.

Bryane Heaberlin (goalkeeper)

  • The Good: Strong, deep kicks and punts. Started at least three offensive opportunities for the USA with her kicks (47′, 78′, 89′), including the one for the USA’s game-winning goal (89′). No kick or clearance went out of bounds for a throw-in or corner.
  • The Not-So-Good: Nothing really stood out.

Crystal Dunn (right outside-back)

  • The Good: Strong defensive efforts, including intercepting passes and some feisty 1-on-1 defending after the USA had tied the match. Had five or six potential assists.
  • The Not-So-Good: Obviously, the mis-hit pass that is intercepted by Richardson, who scores (5′).
  • Other Notes: Can sprint from out-of-nowhere and intercept a poorly hit pass, and then can speed down the flank, and cross accurately into the box. Briefly played left outside-back when the USA went to a 3-3-4 formation after Ohai was subbed-in.

Olivia Brannon (right center-back)

  • The Good: No notable defensive miscues.
  • The Not-So-Good: Not really involved in the USA’s attack. (She had plenty of passing touches, but most were short.)
  • Other Notes: Got the start over Roccaro. Not sure if Brannon is Swanson’s preferred starter and had a minor injury in earlier matches, or if Swanson wanted to go with fresher (and more experienced) legs against Canada. Was briefly a right-outside back when the USA went to a 3-3-4 formation after Ohai was subbed-in.

Kassey Kallman (left center-back)

  • The Good: Confident passing. Some positive defensive efforts including blocking a defender from getting to a ball that would roll out for a goal kick and shoulder-to-shoulder defending to disposses a CAN attacker (87′, it was also arm-to-arm, but no call either way).
  • The Not-So-Good: A mis-hit header that went backwards and which was latched onto by Oduro who almost chipped in Canada’s second goal (32′). Also had an early errant pass that was intercepted by Canada (2′).
  • Other Notes: Wore the captain’s arm-band after Pathman was subbed out.

Mollie Pathman (left outside-back, subbed out at 76′)

  • The Good: Some positive defending, including a clean slide-tackle to clear the ball out (although for a corner) against Richardson (56′).
  • The Not-So-Good: Had four angled crosses into Canada’s box that were wasted opportunities as either the pass was not accurate or no USA players were close (7′, 13′, 17′, 28′).
  • Other Notes: Was only able to cut-off Richardson (56′) due to having a 10-yard head start.

Samantha Mewis (holding midfielder)

  • The Good: Sent a long pass to Hayes who headed a potential assist to Horan. Collected several errant CAN passes and CAN clearances. Had lots of passing touches.
  • The Not-So-Good: Needs to get rid of the ball faster.
  • Other Notes: Could have been pressured more by CAN’s forwards as Mewis does not seem be that strong at holding the ball.

Vanessa DiBernardo (attacking midfielder, subbed out at 68′)

  • The Good: Decent corner kick and free kick deliveries. Involved defensively.
  • The Not-So-Good: Could have passed to an open Hayes, insteading of taking a shot (30′). Only 1 of 8 corner kicks were short.
  • Other Notes: Had 4 shots during the match, and 3 potential assists.

Morgan Brian (attacking midfielder)

  • The Good: Involved all over the midfield. Lots of passing touches.
  • The Not-So-Good: Should have scored on two really good opportunities (48′, a header right to D’Angelo; 49′, from space in penalty arc that went wide). On a couple of her shots, could have passed to an open-ish player (24′, Dunn; 60′, Hayes).
  • Other Notes: 6 shots, 3 potential assists. 2 of those shots earned corner kicks.

Lindsey Horan (forward)

  • The Good: Looked the best when passing cheekly to other players. Had the pre-assist pass to Ohai, who would go on to pass to Ubogagu for the game-winner.
  • The Not-So-Good: Needs to be better aware of the other USA players around here. (See Horan’s shot in the 72nd minute, when Dunn sent in a cross, probably to Hayes; as well as Horan’s shot in the 23rd minute.)
  • Other Notes: Did not have much, if any deep flank play in this match.

Katie Stengel (forward, subbed out at half-time)

  • The Good: Had 4 potential assists in 45 minutes of play.
  • The Not-So-Good: Her shot in the 12th minute was either due to a mis-hit or a brain-freeze.
  • Other Notes: Was not able to get any penetrating dribbles down to Canada’s touchline. Her first shot earned the USA’s first corner kick.

Maya Hayes (forward)

  • The Good: Obviously, the equalizer she scored. Creative play inside the box (a self-pass chip over a defender, 84′).
  • The Not-So-Good: May need to do a better job communicating her presence on the field (see Horan’s header shot in 72nd minute, plus a couple of other times where Hayes was open inside the box when other players took shots).
  • Other Notes: Got the start ahead of Ohai.

Chioma Ubogagu (forward, substitute at 46′)

  • The Good: Her game-winning goal, obviously. Vigorous efforts to dispossess CAN players.
  • The Not-So-Good: On her shot in the 60th minute, she should have been more aware of Hayes, who was clearly open on the left side of goal.

Mandy Laddish (attacking midfielder, substitute at 68′)

  • The Good: Solid deliveries on her two corner kicks. Hassled a CAN attacker to disposses the ball (70′).
  • The Not-So-Good: But, all 3 corner kicks were too direct to D’Angelo, who pawed away each one. Two errant passes went out for CAN throw-ins.

Kealia Ohai (forward/outside-back, substitute at 76′)

  • The Good: Obviously, her two assists.
  • The Not-So-Good: Nothing stands out. (She was only on the field for just under 17 minutes of playing time.)
  • Other Notes: Once the USA got the equalizer, they moved back into a 4-3-3, with Ohai as a left outside-back.
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