At the Total Soccer Show, Daryl Grove and Taylor Rockwell seem worried.
At The Guardian, Caitlin Murray seems slightly skeptical.
At The Equalizer (paid content), Chelsey Bush laments the absence of Casey Short.
At Soccer America, Paul Kennedy sees a couple of surprises.
At Twitter … no, I’m not going there.
I’m probably less worried than the Total Soccer Show guys, but they raised some interesting questions that I figured I’d tackle one by one.
Only one left back (Crystal Dunn), and she’s best in the attack? When is left back not a concern for almost any team? You don’t have to be left-footed to play left back, but it helps, and lefties are maybe 20 percent of soccer players. An NIH article finds only 8.2 percent of people in general are left-footed, though another 30.2 percent are “mixed-footed.” The study did not, however, ask participants to demonstrate this by putting a 30-yard cross into Alex Morgan’s path.
But Tierna Davidson can fill in. Once Kelley O’Hara is healthy, she would be an option, especially given the surplus of right backs.
All of which, though, leads to another question …
Only seven defenders? Some stories report the roster announcement as Ali Krieger over Casey Short. I don’t think it’s that simple. Krieger and Short are both deserving. So why not take both?
You can have eight defenders by answering the next question …
Why seven forwards? To be picky, “forward” isn’t necessarily a position as much as it’s an attitude. The difference between a 4-5-1 and a 4-3-3 is really how much ground you want the wingers to cover.
Also, Carli Lloyd isn’t exactly a stranger to midfield, so if she needed to play a No. 10 role, she certainly could.
But with such an attack-oriented team, it’s worth looking around the front line and midfield to see if anyone could way to bring aboard Casey Short as an eighth defender. And as great a story as she has, I think Jessica McDonald is the odd person out.
Where’s the backup defensive midfielder? Julie Ertz is unique. You don’t see a lot of center backs moved up one line on the field.
But who jumped in as the defensive midfielder in 2015 to replace the miscast Lauren Holiday? That would be Morgan Brian, the surprise pick for this roster only because she hasn’t been fit recently. Another option is Allie Long. In a pinch, Lindsey Horan.
It’s a pity not to see McCall Zerboni simply because she has fleshed out her game so nicely at an age in which most players consider themselves finished products. I always saw her a “physical” presence in midfield, and she’s still typically at or near the NWSL lead in fouls committed. (Horan and Long aren’t far behind.) But she has become a deft possession-oriented midfield as well, attempting and completing far more passes per 90 minutes now than she did in 2016.
For sake of argument, let’s compare Zerboni and Long’s numbers.
Make of that what you will.
So your tl;dr recap: I’d have taken Short instead of McDonald just to have another defender, but other than that, I don’t see any glaring holes. And that attack is about as strong as you’ll ever see.