The U.S. women’s national team needs to do a better job of finishing its chances, two-time World Cup champion Carli Lloyd told Fox Sports.
The missed opportunities in the USWNT’s opening win against Vietnam continue what Lloyd called a “worrying” trend under head coach Vlatko Andonovski. The USWNT finished the 3-0 win with 28 shots, seven of them on target.
“I don’t think you saw that fluidity with the U.S. in the first game,” Lloyd said. “Why would you? That lineup had never played together. The first goal Sophia Smith scored was really the only moment where you saw three players — Lindsey Horan, Alex Morgan and Soph — have that movement off one another where it was synchronized.
“Everything else was just these Hail Mary balls that were being lumped into the box. Those aren’t effective often.”
Vietnam did turn in a sound defensive performance, with 26 goal preventions. The underdogs also forced 91 turnovers. The USWNT completed 381 of its 460 total passes for an 83% completion rate.
The USWNT also had a strong defensive showing, conceding no shots or corner kicks. And Naomi Girma looked stellar as the starting center back, completing 79 of 88 pass attempts for a 93% pass completion rate. She also had six ball recoveries against Vietnam.
Lloyd’s main concern, though, did not arise from Vietnam’s defense but from the USWNT’s lack of cohesion and killer instinct under Andonovski, who took over as head coach after the 2019 World Cup.
“To be perfectly blunt, this has been a general theme with Vlatko ever since he became the coach in 2019,” Lloyd said. “Two years ago at the Olympics, we had chances that we weren’t putting away. That’s worrying. Because when you go deeper in a tournament, those opportunities are going to be few and far between. You might get 20 or 30 chances against Vietnam. You won’t against the top teams. So it’s really important to capitalize on the ones you get.”
While players on the USWNT certainly know how to finish, they need to follow through even when the circumstances of the game are working against them.
“It was a mindset, a visualization thing. These players all know how to finish. If you work on crossing with no defenders, they’re all going to score,” she said. “But when an opponent is maybe pushing you a little bit off balance, you have to really hone in on keeping your eye on the ball and attacking it.
“I’m thinking of the shot Megan Rapinoe had against Vietnam. There was no movement toward the ball. I’ve done that in my career, where I’m just not switched on, just kind of standing there. It’s not effective.”
Even still, there were moments – as with Sophia Smith’s assist on Lindsey Horan’s goal – in which the team showed glimpses of what it could be.
“Things like the weight of the pass matter. If you look at Sophia Smith’s assist, it was purposeful,” Lloyd said. “She’s attacking the ball in a great spot, takes a perfect touch and she executes. And it allows Lindsey to put it away. It should be that easy.
“The best teams and the best players capitalize on those half chances. A half chance is still a chance.”