U.S. Women thump Costa Rica as Sundhage begins unofficial farewell tour

AbbyWambach0901 (ISIPhotos.com)

Photo by ISIPhotos.com

The same day the news hit that Pia Sundhage was leaving her job as U.S. women's national team head coach, the Olympic gold medal-winning U.S. women played their first match since the Olympics and treated fans to a showcase of attacking prowess.

It also felt every bit like the start of a long goodbye for their coach.

Hometown hero Abby Wambach scored two goals and delivered an assist in the U.S. women's team's 8-0 thrashing of Costa Rica in Rochester on Saturday.

Megan Rapinoe also scored two goals, while four others, including Olympic tournament stars Alex Moran and Carli Lloyd, added goals.

The victory came just hours after Sundhage announced that she would not be returning as U.S. head coach (and just before news surfaced in Sweden that Sundhage would be taking over as head coach of the Swedish national team).

Sundhage addressed the crowd at Rochester's Sahlen Stadium, where a crowd of 13,208 fans welcomed the gold medal-winning team in their first post-Olympic match. Sundhage addressed the news of her departure, which was revealed just hours before Saturday's friendly.

The U.S. women will continue their post-Olympic tour on Sept. 16th against Australia at Home Depot Center before facing Australia at Dick's Sporting Goods Park in Colorado three days later in what will be Sundhage's final match as U.S. manager.

What did you think of Saturday's match? Who do you see replacing Sundhage? Which U.S. player impressed you the most on Saturday?

Share your thoughts below.

This entry was posted in U.S. Women's National Team. Bookmark the permalink.

36 Responses to U.S. Women thump Costa Rica as Sundhage begins unofficial farewell tour

  1. CplDaniel says:

    No Pia? With all that she guided the USA team to, somebody will have some big shoes to fill.

  2. rjrkr44krnnenwni2po33 says:

    We have the best women’s team on the planet. Sweden or Germany or Japan may come close, but our guys rock. But how come we don’t have the best women’s league? The Swedish women’s league may be the best on the planet. We need to fix this. Start a league of 10-12 teams with 3-4 in Canada and the rest around big cities with MLS franchises. Use their stadiums and get some PR going

  3. Tyler says:

    That already existed. MLS supported the teams for awhile, but the league folded because nothing was making money.

  4. Bryan says:

    What a pointless game…

  5. Why would you plan women’s games in stadiums that seat 18-25 thousand when their games rarely, if ever, draw even 3,000? What a waste of money. It would cost too much to staff those games. And why would the MLS teams want anything to do with another failed women’s pro endeavor?

  6. The point was to play in some U.S. cities so fans could come see them play. So, in that regard, it isn’t pointless at all. In fact, it was a sellout and wild success. Why would you call it pointless?

  7. b says:

    8-0?? Who watches this crap? I tuned in for qualifying once and they won like 11-0. I’d rather watch bullies pick on disabled kids.
    I guess “Americuh f*** yeaah!” frontrunner types need something to watch when the Yankees and Lakers are not playing….

  8. b says:

    Now if they played Japan again, THAT I would tune in for. An actual challenge.

  9. Tyler says:

    Then go watch bullies pick on disabled kids and don’t bother commenting here.

    Clearly the SELL OUT crowd in Abby’s hometown enjoyed it.

  10. ToasT says:

    Because it needs to happen. It is the next step. The NASL failed in the 80s but many knew that there was a market for a professional league in the US. It wIll happen, maybe not now, but we are almos there. MLS support is logical. How could MLS support the women’s League in the past if MLS could barely support themselves then.

  11. Joe+G says:

    The MLS has never been involved in women’s soccer other than letting some teams share their names/marketing.

  12. Joe+G says:

    Well, the 2 teams played in January and Costa Rica gave them the closest game in the tourney, 3-0. Consider this like the Division 2 game that most American football powers play in Sept. to warm up. They have tougher games coming.

  13. jones says:

    um, no. MLS never supported the teams, that is incorrect.

  14. jones says:

    I wasn’t interested in the Costa Rica game because I knew it would be a thrashing, but Germany is on the horizon and I’m pumped. I’m curious to see how the Germans look now after crashing out of their own World Cup. They always have lots of talent and they were embarrassed by that performance.

  15. Juan says:

    Coaching Sweden is no surprise. The question is can she take them to the top in Europe? If she can then she is a great coach. Taking the USA to the top is not so hard since we have the best 11 available in the world. Its more a matter of not screwing things up then in developing a team.

    IDK who the next coach will be but I hope it’s somebody that seeks to build a more technical team. We need to go in that direction to remain near the top….many teams are coming that are more technical than we are right now and we won’t be able to maintain our position on athletic ability alone much longer

  16. Yawnster says:

    Pia was what the team needed when she came in 2007 — someone who could build team spirit when the team was in turmoil. But she is a terrible coach in every department other than player relations. Her personnel and tactical decisions are baffling. She is stuck in her ways and it takes months or years for her to make changes. She makes me really appreciate Bob Bradley. This is a sad day for the Japanese national team. They had Pia completely figured out and now, they’ won’t have a chance of beating the US.

  17. foobar says:

    didn’t win the big one – the WC

  18. Matt says:

    Really? Are you freaking kidding me set in her ways? Japan had her figured out? How exactly was she set on her ways? People complain about the fact that Morgan wasn’t starting. Well guess what we were playing a 4-5-1 with an extremely clinical perhaps best striker to ever play the game up top. No way Morgan was EVER going yo take Abby’s spot.

    Style? Guess what our team was very posession oriented in that style, but Morgan got hot so she changed the entire team formation to get her on the pitch so we sacrifice posession in order to get two clinical strikers who are next to gaurantees to finish 50% of their chances, so in that means you can give up posession and create less chances because the strikers u have will finish at least on of their chances per game.

    And because of that you had to have two central midfielders that were aggressive to break up plays and prevent teams frombuilding through the middle. Know who that is? Lloyd and Box. It is not Cheney, it is not anyone but those 2.

    Guess what else. Because your playing a more direct style you need wingers who can win 1v1 and deliver good balls into your hot strikers, so off come ORielly and Rodriguiz and on come Heath and Rapinoe.

    As for japan it tokk PKs to win the world cup. We come back play 3 close games, on the fourth trounce them 4-1 and win the gold.
    Know what that says? Pia figured japan out and made the necessary changes to beat them.

    Did chelsey not beat Barca by playing very tight defence and feed a class striker every chance they could and let them do their job and finish?

    And again against Byern? Everyone praised chelsey for winning didn’t they? Despite the strategy imposed.

    Piano completely revived this team from dead. If you think she is a terrible coach your a joke and did not follow this team and as such shouldn’t post a ridiculous comment based on no facts maybe just watched a few games

  19. Yawnster says:

    Matt – I have watched nearly every USWNT match in the last two and half years and I watched most of the major matches in the three years before that. It seems like you follow the team too, but you are one of those who wear rose-colored glasses and believe what you want to believe rather than what you see. It’s that kind of thinking that has allowed the rest of the world to catch up with us. Your arguments are incoherent and seem like they are based on how you “feel”. Let me respond with facts.

    How was Pia set in her ways? You argue that we were playing “a 4-5-1 with an extremely clinical perhaps best striker to ever play the game up top”. Over a period of eight months up to the beginning of the World Cup, Abby Wambach played nearly every minute of 10 matches and scored zero goals. Pia continued to start her. So . . . for ten straight matches, you play a formation that isn’t working because it relies heavily on a player who isn’t scoring, and you refuse to change. That’s called set in your ways.
    You say “No way Morgan was EVER going to take Abby’s spot.” You’re right. With Pia in charge she wasn’t. And that shows Pia’s inflexibility. Starting from about the World Cup to the end of 2012, Alex Morgan got only substitute minutes (maybe 15 minutes a game on average) but she was scoring every other game. It took Pia months to figure out that it might be a good idea to start Morgan. And when she did, what happened? In the run up to the Olympics, Morgan scored 17 goals in 14 matches. Only the great Mia Hamm ever went on a tear like that.

    You claim that Abby Wambach is “an extremely clinical perhaps best striker to ever play the game up top?” This just proves you have no objectivity. “extremely clinical” finishers don’t fail to score in ten straight matches (especially in the women’s game, where there are many more mismatches). “best striker to ever play the game”? LOL. Ever heard of Mia Hamm? Or maybe this Brazilian named Marta? If we’re being honest, Wambach isn’t even the best striker on the USWNT right now. That distinction belongs to Alex Morgan. You say Morgan got “hot” like it was a lucky streak. My god, are you a close relative of Abby’s? If you follow the USWMNT at all, you know that Morgan has been consistently playing at a world class level. Some of her play in the Olympic tournament was truly world-class and it’s clear that she can already do things that Wambach will never be able to do (see the goal against North Korea but there were numerous examples in the tournament). There is only one person on the team who might become the “best striker ever to play the game” and it isn’t Wambach.

    Perhaps Wambach was the best striker in the world 7 years ago (before Marta won the first of her five consecutive FIFA Player of the Year awards), but she’s lost some speed since then. Without her speed, she’s a one trick pony – using her height and strength to muscle into the goal balls that get within the 6 yard box. But the truth is that she doesn’t have the skills to get by defenders (like Morgan), she can’t cross (like Rapinoe), she’s not a threat to score from distance (like Lloyd) and she can’t pass. When she played with the new crop of more technical players (Rapinoe, Heath, Morgan, etc.) it was kind of sad because it exposed her lack of skills. Watch the Olympic matches and count how many times the build up to an attack gets killed because someone passes it to Wambach and she makes a bad pass or loses the ball. I recall at one point, Wambach received the ball in the corner and managed to lose it despite no defender being within 20 feet of her.

    You seem to be in an alternate reality when you say “our team was very possession oriented” before Morgan came and “we sacrificed possession in order to get two clinical strikers”. Who exactly was “possession oriented” before Morgan became a starter? Shannon Boxx? Carly Lloyd? Heather O’Reilly? It’s pretty obvious that Rapinoe and Heath (who became starters at the same time or after Morgan did) are much more “possession oriented” than any of them. And Morgan is easily the best striker in terms of keeping possession. The truth is that we were not possession-oriented before the beginning of this year and needed to be in order to take on the likes of Japan.

    Speaking of which, prior to the World Cup, the US had an all-time record against Japan of 36-0-8 (or maybe 36-1-7). In the next three matches, Japan beat the US twice and drew once. That’s a pretty dramatic turnaround and it’s what I call “figuring out the US”. It’s true that after a year, Pia finally managed to fight fire with fire and managed to even things out, but that doesn’t mean that Japan didn’t figure out the US. The Olympic final was close; I was terrified the last fifteen minutes. Had Japan been more clinical with their finishing, the result could have been very different. The Japanese are smaller and slower than the US, and they didn’t exactly overwhelm the opposition (drawing South Africa). So when they make the final that close, I would say they have us figured out.

    All the above is just about Pia’s inflexibility. I could point out an equal number of tactical mistakes she makes as well, but I think one will be enough. Match vs. France, first game of the Olympic group, US winning 4-2, 15 minutes left in the match, you have two substitutions left. Any sane coach would substitute in more defensive players and tell the team to park the bus. France is your toughest opponent in the group so your #1 priority should be to get the win. With Colombia and N. Korea coming up, you know this isn’t the game to try to run up the goal differential. What does Pia do? She replaces her best midfielder (Rapinoe) for a pure forward (Leroux), and she replaces her best forward (Morgan) with another forward (Rodriguez). What happened next? France all of the sudden got some scary chances on goal. That last 15 minutes was the most dangerous they looked since they scored early in the game.

    What is shocking is that this same inability to do minimal tactical adjustment cost us the World Cup and a year later, Pia had not learned the lesson. Japan scored those come from behind goals in the World Cup final because we kept trying to score more goals even when we were ahead with only a few minutes left. We failed to lock down the game. I’m not sure Pia ever learned the lesson. We also failed to lock down Japan in the Olympic final, they looked damn scary until almost the last minute, and we were spared only because Japan was uncharacteristically sloppy in front of goal that night.

    I hope these are enough facts for you.

  20. biff says:

    And truth be told, the USWNT Gold Medal this summer came with a lot of help from questionable and very favorable refereeing decisions. Canada most likely would have won the semi-final match had US hand-balls been penalized and had the infamous 6-second free kick not been gifted to the US. Ditto with referee no-calls against Japan, like Buhler wrapping her arms firmly around the tiny Japanese players several times in the box on corner kicks. That is cheating in my book. While I think Canada would have won with decent refereeing, not sure about Japan. But it would have been much closer if the referee would have called the game more fairly.

    I was a big fan of the US women, but soured on their Olympic display. Their un-sportsmanship behavior and whining to the referees and brutal tactics were not their proudest moments. That is not how I want to win and felt some shame. Quite frankly, the USMNT plays with a lot more class and that is why I am glad to see Sundhage departing and looking forward to a new coach that can do something similar with the women’s team.

  21. Whether you think it NEEDS to happen or not is irrelevant. MLS has no reason to get involved in another failing women’s venture. After two tries and six seasons, it obviously needs to be on a smaller scale – not a larger one and shoved into stadiums too big for it. MLS should stay far away from any sort of women’s pro league.

  22. I’ve been hearing this for nearly 15 years yet in the last two years we lost in penalties in the World Cup final and won the Olympics. A few years ago it was Germany that had caught and passed us by but where have they been lately? Not in our class is where …

    People love to talk about how brilliant Brazil was but what has the Brazilian team ever won? NOTHING. And with the best player in the world, to boot.

    The USWNT is the best, most consistent team in the world. Deal with it.

  23. No more embarrassed than not qualifying for the Olympics.

  24. GW says:

    The US has a great keeper, a truly creative midfielder in Blondie, an inconsistent one in Lloyd and Alex and Abby.

    After that they have a bunch of hard working athletes who are very good to average.

    Defensively they are a slow, ponderous mess.

    If Abby retires or becomes mortal, we become Canada.

  25. Tim says:

    Exactly…all this talk about other teams catching up, but yet no real proof. Had it not been for Japan plying for some major national pride and emotion after the tsunami, the US would not only be the two time Olympic champions they already are, but also WC champions. There’s no better women’s team on the planet.

  26. Aero says:

    Agree 100%. I was baffled for a long time by the reluctance to play Morgan. The same for Leroux right now…

  27. Brendan says:

    The US Soccer reps came to the Outlaws section and told us we needed to sit down and stop singing.

    We had an agreement in writing with US Soccer for the first 9 and a half rows of the corner section behind Hope Solo in the first half. Some self righteous middle aged lady whose ticket was for row K was sitting in row H and complained that the standing and singing was distracting her from the game. If she was sitting in her seat she would have been able to see just fine.

    So instead of encouraging supporters, US Soccer bent down to the lowest common denominator without even checking her ticket stub. The US Soccer rep, who also had the poor fashion sense to wear a plaid tie, effectively killed the section when the game was still in the first half. How does that help the game?

  28. beachbum says:

    this is not accurate GW

    Lauren Cheney is arguable the best American female player right now and she’s not even in your analysis. Tobin Heath is at least as creative as Rapinoe and she is not in your analysis. Leroux? O’hara? and Rampone is the fastest player on the team, a defender

    this whole notion that the USWNT is just a bunch of athletes is not good analysis. Lloyd is a technical player with a rocket from either foot, not some bruiser in there, sheesh

    what’s funny to me is everyone’s belief that Brazilian women play some technically amazing brand of soccer. yes, they have that ability but they are bruisers out there, hard tackling foul happy players. If they wore red, white and blue analysis of their plkay would be very different I wager

  29. beachbum says:

    BAM!!! well said

    the whole notion that this USWNT is not technical is flat out incorrect and shows that people comment based on beleif and not what actually occurs OR they don’t watch the games yet feel the need to pop off anyway

  30. beachbum says:

    the officiating was a joke both ways, not a one-way street. Canada should have played a player down for much of thew match but did not

    both teams had issues with the ref

  31. Brice says:

    We had a similar experience when the women came to Portland last year. People sitting in the traditional Timbers Army section complaining that a number of us were standing and singing during the game. We eventually had to relent and sit down to end the grumbling.

  32. HoBo says:

    Wow, guess everyone else watched a different Olympics. Excuse me…. Your bias is showing :)

  33. Yawnster says:

    Yup. I’ve commented before that it would be fun to see Morgan and Leroux starting together up top and tearing apart defenses with their speed. And the USWNT has plenty of matches (Guetamala, Domnican Republic) where they would win with their third string so why not experiment a little? But that was never going to happen with Pia.

    Same with Rapinoe. She sparked the offense whenever she came on as a sub and it took her even longer than Morgan to win the starting job. Basically, Japan had our number and Pia had no choice but to make changes to deal with them. But if a coach on the men’s side gave the “performance” that Pia did, they would have been fired immediately. Bob Bradley was let go for much, much less.

  34. You really want to believe that a men’s NT coach would be fired for winning one major international tournament and making the finals of the other and losing in penalties? You can’t be serious …

  35. Yawnster says:

    That’s not what I said. Any coach should be fired for failing to make changes as other countries improve and surpass them, and for making awful substitutions. That’s basically why Bob Bradley was let go — Mexico surpassed the USMNT and the decision to start Ricardo Clark in the World Cup match against Ghana. I think Bradley was actaully treated unfairly since there wasn’t much he could do about Mexico improving and no one could have known Clark would have an awful night. Pia doesn’t have those kinds of excuses . . .

    It’s pretty obvious that you don’t follow the men’s international game. Men’s coaches get fired for a lot less than what Pia did — which was give away the World Cup final. If a men’s NT coach failed to switch to a defensive posture when the team is ahead with a few minutes to go, and the other team went on to make a last minute goal and win the final on PKs, he’d be murdered by the fans before the national footbal federation could fire him.