USWNT draw, Atlanta United welcomes Jamal Thiaré: The Starting Lineup, August 1
by Jason Longshore
3am kickoff times are not ideal for watching the USWNT. Do you prefer 5am? Because that's what's ahead of the USWNT on Sunday morning since they finished in second place in Group E following a 0-0 draw against Portugal. The Netherlands 7-0 win over Vietnam gave them first place in the group.
Jessica Charman and I talked about the challenges ahead of the USWNT on Atlanta Soccer Tonight Monday night. Portugal is a resolute defensive team that has only conceded 8 goals in their last 13 games after this one. They also have a fighting mentality, highlighted by two comebacks at last summer's Euros from two goals down. Yes, this was Portugal's first World Cup appearance, but this is a very good team and they showed it against the USWNT. They controlled possession, frustrated the US midfield, and had enough of a threat going forward.
For the USWNT, this isn't about mentality, effort, or any other cliché being thrown around. This is two-fold. One, the rest of the world has fully caught up to the head start that the USWNT has enjoyed for decades in terms of development, resources, skills, and athleticism. The USWNT can't purely out-talent good teams anymore. US women's player development has to improve from a technical and tactical perspective. Two, the issue in this tournament for the USWNT is finishing chances. Per Opta, the USWNT has created 16 big chances in this tournament. They have only converted three of them into goals. They failed to capitalize on four big chances against Portugal.
It only gets more difficult as the USWNT will likely face Sweden in the Round of 16, the team that beat them 3-0 at the last Olympics and drew 1-1 with them in a friendly before that. The Swedes are a monster team in set pieces, scoring four goals from corners in this tournament so far.
In other news today, Atlanta United signed forward Jamal Thiaré through the 2024 season on a free transfer. He was born in Senegal and started his career in Belgium at Sporting Charleroi. Thiaré was most recently part of a Le Havre side that earned promotion to Ligue 1, scoring 4 goals and adding 5 assists. He can score with either foot and has shown a knack for getting into dangerous positions inside the 18.
Filling out the lineup card...
Lauren James scored twice and assisted three more as England clinched first place in their group in a comprehensive 6-1 win over China. (Yahoo)
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has called on FIFA and UEFA to "find solutions" on closing the Saudi Arabia transfer window earlier. It remains open until September 20, while the major European leagues' incoming windows close on September 1. (ESPN)
Romelu Lukaku for Dusan Vlahovic in a trade? (AS)