Newspaper article International New York Times

U.S. Keeps Winning, but Critics Keep Grumbling ; Coach Comes under Fire after Team Fails to Develop a Consistent Attack

Newspaper article International New York Times

U.S. Keeps Winning, but Critics Keep Grumbling ; Coach Comes under Fire after Team Fails to Develop a Consistent Attack

Article excerpt

Coach Jill Ellis continues to face outside opposition to her tactics, with some detractors calling for more fluidity and attacking ingenuity.

Simply winning a World Cup quarterfinal match may not suffice for the United States women's national team.

Despite reaching this stage of the tournament for the seventh consecutive time, building a 333-minute shutout streak along the way, the Americans have been subjected to frequent criticism, with the volume increasing after an arrhythmic 2-0 win over Colombia on Monday in the round of 16.

On Friday, the United States will face China, a team it is expected to beat. But it seems that winning only a certain way -- with more fluidity, more attacking ingenuity and more ease over all - - would curtail the hand-wringing about the squad.

"We know that it's not our best; we know that we're capable of so much more," midfielder Carli Lloyd said Wednesday. "So just trying to find that and fine-tune it is what we're doing."

Lloyd added: "We're following the direction of the coaches. We're doing everything they ask of us, and we just have to continue to dig deep and find a way."

To some critics, the direction from Coach Jill Ellis has been precisely the problem. There has been little passing flow and apparently little effort to correct that. Striker Abby Wambach, who has scored 183 international goals, has remained a focal point on offense despite appearing slow and out of sync. Concerned voices emerged strongly during and after the game Monday, in which Colombia, a much less accomplished team, seemed to control the pace of play for long stretches despite playing almost half the game with one fewer player.

While providing color commentary on Fox Sports, Tony DiCicco, who coached the United States to its last World Cup title, in 1999, said repeatedly that he thought Ellis needed to switch to a 4-3-3 formation instead of the 4-4-2 she was favoring.

Analyzing the performance in a postgame studio show on Fox, Eric Wynalda suggested that Ellis's tactics were too conservative. …

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