The U.S. will meet Mexico at Red Bull Arena in several hours. The match will mark the USWNT’s last domestic game before the kick-off of the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup. It will also be the team’s eleventh match of 2011, Carli Lloyd will likely earn her 111th international cap, and Becky Sauerbrunn might nab her eleventh. So in honor of all those elevens, here’s eleven notes in anticipation of the match:
- The USWNT vs. Mexico record stands at 24-1-1, GF: 107, and GA: 11. In the USWNT’s first 19 matches against Mexico, the team scored 89 goals and conceded just six. Mexico’s victory against the U.S. in CONCACAF Women’s World Cup Qualifying was declared the biggest upset in women’s soccer history. Mexico snapped the U.S.’s streak of 35 games unbeaten, as well as its undefeated record (then 21-0-0) in the CONCACAF Gold Cup. The U.S. has not lost at home since November 6, 2004. Can Mexico play spoilers three times in seven months?
- The U.S. remains undefeated in World Cup send-off games. In total, the team has scored 17 goals and conceded three. The U.S. faced Mexico in its send-off match before the 2003 FIFA Women’s World Cup. The USWNT won 5-0.
- It was announced last week that Kelley O’Hara would replace Lindsay Tarpley in the USWNT’s World Cup squad. No surprise, little argument. O’Hara’s inclusion lowers the average age of the squad from 27 to 26. And just because, if Heather Mitts isn’t able to reach full match fitness in time for the World Cup and Whitney Engen goes in her place, the average age will be dropped to 25. That’s the youngest squad the USWNT will send to a World Cup since 1999. For the record, the average age of the squads that went to both the 1991 FIFA Women’s World Cup and the 1995 FIFA Women’s World Cup was 23.
- Abby Wambach’s form will key prominently in the USWNT’s success this summer. The prolific forward scored her 118th international goal against Japan in Columbus, and is now just 12 goals away from equaling Kristine Lilly’s record of 130 goals, which is second all-time in USWNT history. The goal also marked Wambach’s first with the USWNT in the calendar year. Wambach was dominant against Japan in Columbus and proved to be highly effective in a false nine position in behind A-Rod. With her hat-trick for magicJack against the Atlanta Beat last week in mind, Wambach appears to be peaking at exactly the right moment. The USWNT can’t ask for more.
- Maribel Dominguez affirmed her legendary status in the women’s game with her sensational performances in 2010 CONCACAF Women’s World Cup Qualifying in Cancun. Dominguez’s early goal in the semifinal against the United States rattled the team and the U.S. never managed to reclaim momentum. At 32, the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup could very well be the Mexican striker’s last hurrah. 1999 marked the first and last time Mexico qualified for a Women’s World Cup – the team’s qualification was aided by the U.S.’s bye from the Gold Cup due to be tournament hosts – and the team managed to score one goal. That lone strike came from a 20 year-old Dominguez. She’ll undoubtedly be looking to add on to her goal tally.
- The USWNT has only lost once in the Garden State, and that was back on April 25, 1999 in a 2-1 defeat to China. As the average attendance of 14,270 suggests, the USWNT has historically drawn well in New Jersey. The last time the U.S. attracted upwards of 10,000 fans to a domestic match was just over a year ago when 10,321 Cleveland natives watched the team defeat Germany 4-0 (oh, how things have changed since then). It will also be interesting to see how many Mexican fans the match attracts. As Lauren Barker points out, there’s a large Mexican enclave in and around Harrison, and U.S. vs. Mexico USMNT matches in the state typically produce crowds in which Mexican fans vastly outnumber American supporters.
- What’s been up with Alex Morgan lately? As of late, the 21 year-old has appeared tentative and wasteful directly in front of goal for both the USWNT and the Western New York Flash. It’s a stark contrast from her performances in 2010 that earned her star super sub status. Perhaps the pressure of being expected to provide late heroics every time she steps on the field has gotten to be a bit much. In truth, strikers have dry spells all the time. Abby Wambach has recently come out the other end of one. Morgan has shown so much already. Now it’s time to prove she has resilience; a requisite for top strikers.
- AWK spoke to Mexico U-20 and Stanford standout Alina Garciamendez a week and a half ago and the center-back shared that Mexico coach Leo Cuellar played clips from the historic Mexican/U.S. semifinal in Cancun in order to get the team pumped up for matches and training sessions. You have to imagine Cuellar will continue with the pre-match ritual in preparation for this match. Mexico will look to depart for the World Cup with some momentum as the team face stiff competition in Group B with the likes of Japan, England, and New Zealand. The team’s chances are boosted by a good mix of young players (such as Garciamendez) and veterans. Mexico enter the match knowing how to beat the U.S. and will certainly draw upon that experience.
- So, what about that diamond formation Pia Sundhage employed in both matches against Japan? According to people who asked the team about the system after the matches, the players said they weren’t actually playing in a diamond formation and the pre-match graphic was just a lie. It appeared that the team did play in a formation that resembled something of a diamond in the first match against Columbus, but Shannon Boxx seemed to be too inhibited in a holding midfielder role. The second match in Cary saw a formation that’s difficult to discern. Boxx, Rapinoe, and HAO looked like true wingers while Wambach and A-Rod continued to play in deep roles. And that’s that funny thing about all this. Formations are just ideas, but it’s up to the players to interpret them. The U.S. has gotten punished for displaying tactical indiscipline (i.e. against Mexico and England) and rewarded againt Japan. It’s odd.
- Christie Rampone will presumably be returning to her starting position at center-back after missing the two Japan matches due to injury. Becky Sauerbrunn stepped in and looked commanding and confident in central defense. In those two matches, the U.S. had its best defensive performances in a long while. Sauerbrunn will likely return to the bench while Cox and LePeilbet could continue to battle to start at left-back. The starting defensive quartet we see in this match will likely be the unit that will start each game in Germany.
- Updated caps and goals totals. The first x/x represents the player’s total international appearances and goals. The second x/x represent the player’s caps and goals from 2011.
Barnhart 39, 8
Solo 94, 3
Loyden 1, 0
Mitts 115/2, 1/0
Engen 2/0, 2/0
LePeilbet 48/0, 3/0
Buehler 58/1, 10/0
Cox 73/0, 9/0
Krieger 17/0, 7/0
Sauerbrunn 10/0, 7/0
Rampone 234/4, 8/0
HAO 143/29, 9/2
Boxx 145/22, 9/1
Lloyd 110/72, 10/5
Lindsey 21/0, 7/0
Rapinoe 30/11, 9/3
O’Hara 5/0, 2/0
Heath 27/2, 7/0
Cheney 41/13, 9/2
A-Rod 64/17, 9/3
Morgan 17/7, 9/3
Wambach 156/118, 7/1