Briana Scurry, like millions of Americans, watched the United States beat Colombia, 2-0, on Monday to advance to the quarterfinals of the women’s World Cup. There were things Scurry liked about the win, and there were things Scurry didn’t like about the win.
We’ll start with the things she liked.
“One is that Alex Morgan got out there (and) got a full 90 minutes in under the belt,” the U.S. women’s soccer legend said on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “She looked very good, very creative on and off the ball, (had) great runs, got a goal, seemed very, very fit and seemed healthy. So that was one real good positive for me. No. 2 was the back line of the U.S. is just locked down. Colombia, I didn’t think, had anything of any note in that first half in terms of scoring opportunities. So that’s good as well.”
As for what Scurry didn’t like? Three words: the offensive attack. There wasn’t enough of it, and what there was, wasn’t particularly impressive.
“It seems a little disjointed to me,” Scurry said. “Originally, I took it as an adjustment to the fast-playing surface. I thought, ‘Okay, maybe they’re still adjusting to the fast-playing surface, and maybe that’s why we’re playing balls in that are running off the ends of the field, or not connecting or we’re not keeping the ball.’ Now I’m not so sure. Now I feel like they’re disjointed.”
Scurry feels the United States is forcing balls to Morgan and Abby Wambach too often and not relying on its midfield enough.
“I just don’t feel like the midfield is as cohesive as they can be with the forwards and the back line,” Scurry said. “We’re not spraying the ball wide as often as I would like to see. We’re getting opportunities, so don’t get me wrong. There’s opportunities to score. There’s plenty of opportunities – maybe a half dozen or so a game, quality ones. But it just doesn’t feel right. Even the novice soccer fan knows it doesn’t feel right. So that’s the interesting part. It just seems like it lacks sharpness, and this is not the proper time to lack sharpness.”
Scurry has also found some of head coach Jill Ellis’ moves puzzling. She said Ellis’ substitutions have been “rather interesting at times” and that she’s “playing some players out of position.”
Scurry feels that either Lauren Holiday or Carli Lloyd needs to play behind the forwards, with the other holding the back line at midfield. When they interchange, the Americans are susceptible to a counter attack. Scurry would also like to see Christen Press playing up top and Sydney Leroux on the wing.
“I understand Jill doesn’t want to play with a holding midfielder,” Scurry said, “but I feel in terms of cohesiveness, playing with a holding midfielder is a more cohesive formation than what it is she’s playing right now. But I will say this: Now that we’re in it – we’re in Game 5 – we really have to play (to our) strengths.
Those strengths, like it or not, are playing ugly. Focusing too much on possession and pretty play, Scurry said, might not be in the Americans’ best interests.
But can the U.S. win the World Cup playing ugly?
“I feel that’s their best option to win,” Scurry said. “Even Carli Lloyd, she admits that they’re still getting a feel for it and they can’t quite get a rhythm (on offense). So either you get a rhythm hopefully soon, which is next game against China. Because if you haven’t gotten a rhythm by the time China comes, you’re not going to get it against France or Germany.”
The United States plays China this Friday at 7:30 p.m. ET.