This week we look at some friendly national team matches involving the U.S., Thailand and the Netherlands.
Thailand versus the United States
On Thursday, September 15, the U.S. Women's National Team overran Thailand 9-0 in Columbus, Ohio before a crowd of 10,490 at MAPFRE Stadium—the home of Major League Soccer's Columbus Crew. Thailand was overrun by the U.S. with Carli Lloyd (Houston Dash) scoring a hat trick along with an astounding four assists, Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride) scored two goals, with singles from Heather O'Reilly (FC Kansas City), Tobin Heath (Portland Thorns), Crystal Dunn Washington Spirit), and Christen Press (Chicago Red Stars). Lloyd started the scoring within 40 seconds of the kickoff, with an assist from O'Reilly. The Americans overwhelmed the Thais with a 32-7 advantage on shots and 16-4 for shots on goal. Goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris (Orlando Pride) posted the shutout while Thai goalkeeper Yada Sengyong made seven saves.
Heather O'Reilly scored a goal and an assist in her last match with the national team having announced her retirement a few weeks ago. In her career, O'Reilly won the 2015 Women's World Cup, the 2002 U-19 World Cup and three Olympic Gold medals; totaling 47 goals and 55 assists in 231 full national team matches. She will continue her NWSL career however—she is currently with FC Kansas City. Though FC Kansas City will miss the playoffs this year for the first time ever, head coach Vlatko Andonovski lauded her play at the NWSL Championship Match (a 1-0 win over Seattle Reign last season in Portland) and felt that she was a key reason why the club repeated as NWSL title winners (coming to the club in the offseason after playing in 2013 and 2014 with the Boston Breakers).
Megan Rapinoe—who we discussed last week has been controversially kneeling during the playing of the U.S. national anthem during a recent NWSL matches (but not on September 11, where she stood and locked arms with her Reign teammates)—repeated her protest action in Columbus as well as in Atlanta against the Netherlands (see below). She came on as a substitute in the second hand against Thailand. She has not been sanctioned by the U.S. Soccer Federation-owned league or the Seattle Reign, but head coach Jill Ellis said before the game that if she did not stand during the national anthem, she would have to have a discussion with Rapinoe after the game. Rapinoe has been injured all season, recovering from an knee injury that she received late last season in training with the national squad; it will be interesting to see what action U.S. Soccer takes—if any--or if it comes up during the bargaining sessions for a new National Team Players Association contract in the months to come. The current Collective Bargaining Agreement concludes at the end of 2016.
The U.S. versus Thailand match was their first ever meeting and the 50th different opponent for the U.S. all-time. Thailand is the 7th country from the Asia Football Confederation (AFC) that the USA has played after Australia, China PR, Japan, North Korea, South Korea and Taiwan/ Chinese Taipei.
Thailand debuted at a senior event in last summer 2015 Women's World Cup. Thailand won one of its three first round games in Canada, a 3-2 victory over the Ivory Coast, with two goals from Orathai Srimanee and one from Thanatta Chawong—who has spent time in Sweden's second division (Elitettan) with Ostersunds DFF in the past--and both made the trip to the America. Thailand fell to Norway and Germany in Canada, both by 4-0 scores. Thailand also hosted the 2004 FIFA U-19 Women's World Cup (which was the last FIFA women's tournament held at the U-19 level before it became the U-20 World Cup in 2006). Thailand qualified as host and lost all three games by an 18-0 total goals for/goals against average in a challenging group against the ultimate champions Germany (2-0 defeat of China in the Final), Canada and Australia.
Thailand head coach Spencer Prior is a native of England and was a professional player there for a number of clubs, including Leicester City and Manchester City in the 1990's and 2000's. He played more than 500 matches in various levels of English soccer. Near the very end of his career, Prior moved to Australia and played for Newcastle Jets in the A-League and then was an assistant coach for the Matildas under former Australian national team coach Tom Sermanni (now at Orlando Pride) from 2011-2013. Prior was the head coach of the Australia U-20 WNT from 2012-2013. He signed a two-year contract with Thailand at the beginning of this year.
Thailand versus the Western New York Flash
Thailand then went to Buffalo, New York--after the match in Columbus against the Americans--to take on the Western New York Flash (based in Rochester) on Saturday, September 17th at the tiny Demske Sports Complex (capacity 1,000) at Cansius College. The two teams ended the match with a scoreless deadlock (0-0). The Flash had a significant advantage in shots (12-5) and corner kicks (6-1). Three goalkeepers contributed to the Flash shutout: Canadian international Sabrina D'Angelo, Katelyn Rowland and Britt Eckerstrom.
Flash General Manager Rich Randall saw the game as an opportunity to host a national team and give his side a practice match in a NWSL off-week: “This is a great opportunity for us to bring an international game to Western New York. It will be exciting for fans to see the Flash play Thailand two days after they take on the U.S. national team during a NWSL bye week." The Flash is 8-5-5 (W-D-L) for fourth place in NWSL and next week has one final regular season game in their quest for their first playoff berth since 2013. They are one point behind third place Chicago Red Stars and two points ahead of the Seattle Reign, who are in fifth and is just out of the playoff picture. A win or draw on Saturday September 24 away against bottom side Boston Breakers will clinch a playoff berth for the Flash. Paul Riley's side is 2-1-0 this season in games against the Matt Beard coached Breakers, and has outscored Boston by a 13-3 goal advantage.
The match in Buffalo at Demske Sports Complex was a field that is important in the Flash's history. They won the 2010 W-League title as the Buffalo Flash with Demske as their home field. English international forward Gemma Davison was a member of that Flash squad.
Thailand Women's National Team Roster by Position
GOALKEEPERS (2): 1-Waraporn Boonsing, 19-Miranda Nild
DEFENDERS (8 ): 2-Kanjanaporn Saenkhun, 3-Natthakarn Chinwong, 4-Duangnapa Sritala, 5-Ainon Phancha, 9-Warunee Phetwiset, 10-Sunisa Srangthaisong, 16-Khwanruedee Saengchan, 17-Anootsara Maijarern, 18-Yada Sengyong
MIDFIELDERS (5 ): 6-Pikul Khueanpet, 8-Naphat Seesraum, 11-Alisa Rukpinij, 12-Rattikan Thongsombut, 21-Kanjana Sung-ngoen
FORWARDS (6): 7-Silawan Intamee, 13-Orathai Srimanee, 14-Thanatta Chawong, 15-Pitsamai Sornsai, 20-Wilaiporn Boothduang, 23-Nisa Romyen
The Netherlands versus the United States
On Sunday, September 18, 2016, the U.S. defeated the Netherlands (3-1)--ranked twelfth in the world in the latest FIFA rankings of national teams--in the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on a natural grass field, which was installed for the match. Liverpool forward Shanice van de Sanden scored in the second minute but Carli Lloyd tied up the match on a Tobin Heath cross late in the first half. The Americans took the lead early in the second half with an own goal by the Dutch and a third tally by Ally Long (Portland Thorns) to wrap up the match.
The U.S. won five of the six previous meetings between the two sides, with their only loss away to the Dutch in 1991 in Vianen (4-3). The Netherlands played in the 2015 World Cup in Canada for the first time. They defeated New Zealand (1-0), fell to China (1-0) and tied Canada (1-1) before falling in the Round of 16 to ultimate finalist Japan (1-0). The Netherlands will host the European Championship Finals next summer—which will be their third consecutive appearance—and will look to better their third place finish in Finland in 2009 in their inaugural Finals appearance.
Six of the Dutch squad plays in England's Super League; three with Arsenal, two with Liverpool and one with Manchester City. Other players abroad are in Sweden (3), Germany (3), France (1) and Norway (1). Nine play at home--four with Ajax of Amsterdam and three with FC Twente.
Netherlands Women's National Team Roster by Position: GOALKEEPERS (3): 1-Sari van Veenendaal (Arsenal, ENG), 16-Angela Christ (PSV), 23-Loes Geurts (Kopparbergs/ Göteborg FC, SWE) DEFENDERS (8): 2-Desirre van Lunteren (Ajax), 3-Stafanie van der Gragt (Bayern Munchen, GER), 4-Mandy van den Berg (Liverpool FC, ENG), 5-Merel van Dongen (Ajax), 15-Kika van Es (Achilles '29), 17-Kelly Zeeman (Ajax, NED), 20-Dominique Janssen (Arsenal, ENG), 29-Siri Worm (FC Twente) MIDFIELDERS (6 ): 6-Dekker, Anouk (Montpellier HSC, FRA), 8-Sherida Spitse (LSK Kvinner FK, NOR), 10-Danielle van de Donk (Arsenal, ENG), 12-Tessel Middag (Manchester City, ENG), 14-Renée Slegers (Linköping FC, SWE), 18-Jackie Groenen (1. FFC Frankfurt, GER) FORWARDS (6): 7-Shanice van de Sanden (Liverpool FC, ENG), 9-Vivianne Miedema (Bayern Munchen, GER), 11-Lieke Martens (FC Rosengård, SWE), 21-Lineth Beerensteyn (FC Twente), 22-Eshly Bakker (Ajax), 26-Ellen Jansen (FC Twente)
The U.S. roster for the Columbus and Atlanta matches was as follows:
U.S. Women's National Team Roster by Position
GOALKEEPERS (2): Ashlyn Harris (Orlando Pride), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars)
DEFENDERS (7): Whitney Engen (Boston Breakers), Julie Johnston (Chicago Red Stars), Meghan Klingenberg (Portland Thorns FC), Ali Krieger (Washington Spirit), Kelley O'Hara (Sky Blue FC), Becky Sauerbrunn (FC Kansas City), Emily Sonnett (Portland Thorns FC)
MIDFIELDERS (8): Morgan Brian (Houston Dash), Tobin Heath (Portland Thorns FC), Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns FC), Carli Lloyd (Houston Dash), Allie Long (Portland Thorns FC), Samantha Mewis (Western New York Flash), Heather O'Reilly (FC Kansas City), Megan Rapinoe (Seattle Reign FC)
FORWARDS (4): Crystal Dunn (Washington Spirit), Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride), Christen Press (Chicago Red Stars), Mallory Pugh (Real Colorado)
Tim Grainey is a contributor to Tribalfootball. His latest book is Beyond Bend it Like Beckham on the global game of women's football. Get your copy today.
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