Greetings from Auckland! I write this after a 47 hour trip around the world to get to Wellington in time for the USWNT match against Netherlands last night (in America). DC-BWI-LAX-SYD-AKL-WLG made for a whirlwind 3 day trip to get to the Women’s World Cup. Let’s start there!

2023 Women’s World Cup – USA 1-1 Netherlands: The Stars and Stripes grind out a hard fought draw (SSFC)

Lindsey Horan’s 2nd half header salvages a draw against the Dutch for the USWNT. Next up, they have to win against Portugal to win Group E and move onto the Round of 16 in Sydney.

Kylian Mbappé rejects chance to meet with Al Hilal (ESPN)

$776M is apparently not enough for Kylian Mbappé to even meet with Al Hilal about a potential transfer. Real Madrid on deck?

What it’s like to play with and against Lionel Messi: A privilege and a nightmare (The Athletic)

Several players discuss what it’s like to play with and against Lionel Messi.

Bayern Munich confirm Sadio Mané in talks to join Al Nassr (ESPN)

Sadio Mané may be the next player to join the Saudi Pro League, as he is in talks with Cristiano Ronaldo’s Al Nassr.

Real Madrid beat Manchester United as Bellingham scores first (ESPN)

Jude Bellingham is showing that he could be the biggest transfer of the summer as he scores in a Real Madrid win over Manchester United.

I’m off to rest…enjoy the day y’all!

ByDonald Wine II

Donald Wine has been a soccer fan since he first kicked a ball as a kid. He moved to DC in 2007 and quickly joined the soccer scene, helping to establish the DC chapter of the American Outlaws and serving as one of the capos and drummers for over a decade. He is currently the manager of Stars & Stripes FC, but this community is where he got his start, and he continues to contribute to anything DC soccer related for this site because he enjoys it so much.

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Kudos to you for making the trip and still being coherent AND posting so quickly. I’ve got several reactions.

  1. Depth is supposed to be the big edge the US has over the rest of the world. So we see just one sub–especially after all the running the US did in the first half? I’m a big Trinity Rodman fan. But if I’m the coach, I pull her off in the middle of the second half and insert another midfielder. Mewis or Sanchez (different players I agree), either would have brought a lot. Get more numbers in midfield, provide some fresh legs. Additionally, you allow Smith to play more centrally (where she’s stronger, not as effective as a pure winger).
  2. The US did a lot right this game. Ertz is proving she’s still got game as a CB. The Dutch are a strong team but look at all the chances the US earned in the second half. That said, the US were badly outplayed the first half. No shockers by them: they put numbers in midfield, they had better technical ability, played in triangles and just dominated possession. That’s mostly on Vlatko and also the US obsession to stay with the 4-3-3.
  3. The Dutch also showed a bit of “bully ball” (I’m not complaining–just observing). Take down every American player after they’ve passed–show them you’re not intimidated and make it harder for quick transitions. Lots of professional fouls. I felt DeMelo and Rodman in particular struggled with their reaction to those tactics.
Will Nelson

You know the funny thing is I saw someone complaining about the USWNT playing dirty last night…if they did then the Dutch played dirtier. I agree that the lack of substitutions was head scratching. The US has great players we shouldn’t be so tied to the 4-3-3. We should be able to flex and change formation based on the dictates of how the game is going.


We definitely could’ve used some fresh legs on either wing towards the end. Vlatko’s thinking was probably that we looked dangerous enough and he didn’t want to disrupt their rhythm. I think he needs to rotate the forwards (except Morgan bc lol no direct replacement for her) next game, if not at the start then later in the game.

As far as the 1st half, maybe it would’ve been nice to have one of the most technically gifted and creative players out on the field in Lavelle’s place.

Matt Glad

Well said all around. The US midfield was trailing behind on so many plays that whenever a winger did happen to swing a cross in there was only one or two US players in the box. Especially in the first half. This was surely to prevent counters like the one the Dutch scored on, but then why not make a tactical tweak before or during the game? I’ve never been impressed with Andonovski’s coaching, and this game shows why.

In the end, this game wasn’t a major catastrophe by any means. A win vs Portugal and the US top the group, get a draw and you’re in no matter what. It’s up to the ladies which place they finish!


Well said. When Alexi Lalas is pointing out why your tactics were self-defeating rather than just doing his usual hot takes you know the coach really messed up.

Bryan McEachern

Lex was apoplectic.

And spot on.

Bryan McEachern

Matt, to your point: “It’s up to the ladies which place they finish.”

It is. Its entirely on them.

Because they are rudderless with this coach. I am sure he is a nice guy, knows football just fine, but man, he mystifies me. I have no confidence in him. I hope he shoves it down my throat.

He looked entirely outcoached by the Netherlands manager.

No one fears this team now.


The U.S. coach laid an egg last night. We knew that Netherlands ran a 4-5-1 variant where they like to possess then overload the back side.

So the U.S. coach lines up a formation that plays right in the the Netherlands tactical strengths and does nothing to counter them:

1) narrow 3 man backline
2) 3 forwards causing a lack of manpower in midfield
3) putting the two outside forwards high rather than having them be withdrawn so they could track back and also make runs down the flank
4) that press was atrocious. Every challenge in the first half was flat in that there was no coherent attempt to funnel the ball into a corner where the U.S. could cause a double team and quick turnover. Sort of defeats the point of a press.

The coach put in Lavell and the players figured out the rest. They moved to a 3-5-2 variant, started to figure out how to track the weak side overloads, figured out the Netherlands’ patterns with how they try to funnel you into a doubleteam in the middle third with all the traffic, and figured out how to exploit the lanes the back 4 gave them with their lack of speed.

If I could fire a coach on the spot, I would have done it at halftime last night. I’ve seen coaches put out tactics that fell flat but I’ve never seen a pro coach put out a tactic that boosted an opponent’s strengths and mitigated his/her team’s strengths at the same time. That U.S. back line is not a pressing back line and you can’t run a press when you put your flank player so high that they don’t have room to track or make runs and the opposing backs don’t even really have to move much to shut their space down.

As for the referee, she almost lost the game. If the U.S. hadn’t have scored and it hadn’t been #10, someone would have given Netherlands #10 a receipt for that cynical foul on the U.S. left flank just before the corner kick. That referee would have totally lost the game and it would have descended into brawl.

She missed a couple of other tactical fouls and didn’t card them. As the U.S. left back completely took over her mark and her space, she started to step and also initiate counters. The Dutch started fouling her because they were gassed and knew they had no chance to catch up and get numbers back. Referee just missed that intent.

As for the result, it’s ok. It’s something the team can work with and grow from. They have a lot of talent and their athleticism remains the best.

Bryan McEachern

Spot on. The Dutch did get gassed and resorted to grabbing, and the ref seemed disinclined to limit that tactic. The US coach does not have my confidence, sadly. I hope that I am proven wrong.


Should we talk about the DC United at Montreal game last night? A road win is always nice even if it’s in a tournament that doesn’t matter to anyone except Apple TV and maybe casual LigaMX fans.

Brendan Cartwright

We advanced which a) I didn’t know we could do after one game; and b) I didn’t expect us to, regardless. It’s nice to win, it’s nice to not immediately crap out of a tournament. I’m glad for Alex Bono to get some more games. Who knows what can happen?

Matt Glad

To your point. I wouldn’t mind seeing more of Bono. Miller’s distribution is sublime, but I’m not sure this DC team can afford even the chance to give away silly goals.


I’d much rather see Bono, but Rooney is the one watching them practice.

It’s cool to see the team advance — I wonder if the team will make STHs pay for tickets to next round(s). I assume so… I hope they’;ll find a way to put out a competitive lineup. I fear we’ll get destroyed by Pumas, but as Brendan wrote, who knows what can happen? Maybe we’ll have some reinforcements by the next round? Seems to soon to get visas in order, but I can dream…


Teams have adjusted to his playing style and are jumping on his passes. If either he or the field player makes a mistake, it is a problem. Though this does not happen much, it is disaster when it does happen.

I like the change of pace with Bono.

David Rusk

Heroic effort by you, Donald. An all-timer; can’t travel farther than New Zealand for any match.

Reminds me of the first Super League of professional rugby back in 2016. Clubs in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Argentina and Japan!! And ex-European players complain about travel within MLS!!!

Talonesque #

The USWNT game against the Netherlands… I see a lot of you talking noodly tactics stuff, seemed to me that, in a game where the quality on the ball was going to be pretty even relative to the US’ usual experience, it comes down to something a bit simpler: Where are the weak links in personnel?

In this lineup, I’m seeing two. One is Andi Sullivan. She was hunting the ball all over the midfield rather than protecting the backline, and the Dutch were able to manipulate the space left very effectively. I hope that Sullivan can keep her head and position a bit better going forward- defensive midfielders are often best when they “disappear” into their roles, and Sullivan was hyperactively not that in this game. She’s a good distributor, and I think she should focus on out of possession shielding the backline and showing more calmness in possession.

The other, y’all might think this is a hot take, but I’m just going to say the reason we’re not getting the edge up top in this tournament: Alex Morgan. Pedigree and history unassailable, she is not in good form, and I don’t know what her function is. Her strength was never really her touch, and while she’s got balance, she doesn’t have the height nor the strength to be an amazing hold up player. Her speed and sprightliness are greatly diminished. The finishing will likely still be there if she gets a good chance, but is she even in good enough shape to deny Lynn Williams in all of these categories? I think Ashley Hatch might actually have been much more functional if Smith and Rodman are the real threats. Morgan had a few good flick ons, but if that’s the totality of her function on the field, that’s statistically absolutely not enough.

So, in essence, I think the 4-3-3 we’re playing could easily work a lot better with Sullivan doing her role more stringently, and Morgan not being the unbenchable captain she has apparently been crowned. Horan is stepping up, I don’t know if, given the current setup, Morgan can do the job that is required.

Last edited 4 months ago by Talonesque #

First, I think you’re being overly harsh with Sullivan. She’s not Ertz (as a D-mid). And our 433 (as it’s usually played) gives her too much to do. She needs help. If she shields the backline, the Dutch have even more possession. If she chases balls, we get a bit more possession but vulnerable to counters in the middle.

Second, Smith is turning out to be better in the center of the pitch than as a winger. Except for a sublime cross to Rodman, Smith has shone nothing as a distributor in 2 games. But as a finisher, as someone who takes on people in crowded space–she’s maybe the best American woman on this team.

I do agree Hatch would be valuable. Morgan isn’t going to score a lot against top teams. She’s a veteran who sometimes will lay the ball off (like the first goal by Smith in game #1) well. In terms of who’s on the roster, I think Smith in the middle and then play 4 in the midfield (with Sanchez) would have had more impact and been more successful.

Talonesque #

Smith is certainly very good down the middle, I just don’t see any reason not to throw Lynn Williams out there for Morgan and let them interchange a bit more.

As for Sullivan, I don’t think I’m being harsh at all. It’s remarkable how many problems a DM solves simply by taking up a more stoic position and being more selective about when to chase the ball in a wide position. Sullivan was basically just abandoning that zone to run 20 diagonal yards consistently toward a player that had passing options. We can bicker about what exactly her role is, surely we can agree it’s not that


Alex Morgan is Benteke. She provides an outlet and a means of setting up runs down the flank. She routinely wins headers and flicks them to teammates. She then makes smart runs in the box. So far, the other teams have double teamed her and rightly so. She hasn’t scored yet because of being double teamed.

A decent pro coach could have figured out how to always have a runner and a secondary withdrawn runner to always take care of the holdup play. You started to see it down the stretch against the Netherlands once the players figured it out and realized they should no-sell the coach’s tactics.

Talonesque #

Benteke is a hold up expert and built for it, Morgan is not. I mentioned the flick ons, which statistically wasn’t enough to give us the edge over the course of the entire game, and the only “run” which almost resulted in something was a really dumb offside one. So… no


Also, this deserves a separate post–kudos to DCU for advancing in the Nations Cup. Yep–this win gives DCU 3 points which means we can do no worse than finish second even if we lose our next match.

Brendan Cartwright

United announces the signing of Gabriel Pirani on loan from Santos. He’s the O’Brien replacement, but a little more offensively minded. Could be quite necessary, particularly if Taxi is sent packing. He’s 21, but he could be a find.


I’m often dismissive of the hype videos of players coming into DC United. This is a major exception. Pirani looks like a real talent. Not a lot of goals, but he can clearly shoot. Also delivers really incisive balls to set up easy goals — Benteke and Dajome´ will love him. And, he serves a great corner kick. Please don’t screw this guy up.

Last edited 4 months ago by Fischy

Hopefully the Pirani signing will turn out to be a good addition.

Since many of us were watching Super Fan Donald Wine’s Adventures in the Kiwi Islands last night, many may have missed DC’s Leagues Cup game.

Here’s the 6:25 in length Apple TV / You Tube highlights:

Sorry, I don’t know how to embed it.

David Rusk

I watched DCU on Apple MLS and recorded USWNT-NED on Fox. Only had about 25 minutes to catch up which I largely made up by fast forwarding through halftime. Just mentioning this as we might be faced with a similar situation over the next couple of weeks.

WillTapley Ray

Gabriel Pirani loanee from Santos


So let’s see if Pirani affects how we use Klich.

Last edited 4 months ago by JoeW
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