The U.S. women's national team walloped Switzerland 5-1 on Sunday and it capped off an experimental two-game set. Here is a look at some of the things we learned over the course of the pair of friendlies.
The 3-5-2 formation is risky, at least for now
It's still unclear if Jill Ellis is seriously looking at starting the USWNT in a 3-5-2 against certain teams, if she is looking at it as a back-up system for certain games, or if she's using it to evaluate players in certain roles. Either way, the formation's weaknesses were exposed in the 7th minute when Sandrine Mauron raced in behind the USWNT's thin back line and scored off a rebound. The USWNT looked vulnerable to quick counterattacks and long balls over the top, even with minimal pressure from Switzerland.
The USWNT still has trouble playing through the midfield
The 3-5-2 is a system that fills up the midfield and gives the Americans a lot of options. But the same problems we've seen in other systems the USWNT has used returned on Sunday. The Americans resorted to repeated long balls because they could not find a way to get in behind the Swiss back line. Carli Lloyd's long-distance equalizer certainly took some pressure of the USWNT, but they can't always count on her doing that. The Americans need to figure out a way to get closer to the goal with the ball.
AFP/Getty ImagesGUSTAVO ANDRADE
Carli Lloyd has still got it
There are a lot of questions about Carli Lloyd's future with the USWNT. Is she best in the No. 10 role, even though that isn't exactly how sure plays? Does she belong higher up the field roaming for goals, since she tends to do that anyway? And will she be able to deliver in three years at the 2019 World Cup? These are worthwhile questions for Jill Ellis to consider. But where Lloyd is most consistent is in her ability to take control of games and score monster strikes. She scored a brace on Sunday, and was an active threatening presence all day.
Getty ImagesPedro Vilela
Lynn Williams deserves more opportunities
After a solid debut that saw Lynn Williams score her first goal, the question was whether Williams could follow that up and show she can do it game in and game out. She did that, notching in assist and looking threatening throughout. She was dynamic in the front of the U.S. attack, floating out wide to provide crosses into the box at times and racing into the box at others. Her speed is impossible to ignore, but her ability to hold-up play and push out wide are things Jill Ellis will certainly consider keeping around.
Getty ImagesRich Barnes
The rookies are making a big statement, and the talent pool is deep
Lynn Williams started things off by scoring a goal less than a minute into her debut on Wednesday. Kealia Ohai did the same thing on Sunday. Sure, it means that Williams and Ohai are probably pretty good striker options, but it's also proof of the depth available to coach Jill Ellis if she is willing to continue to bring more new players in. The USWNT has never been a team that rotates much – part of that is down the the way the collective bargaining agreement is written. But part of it is the team culture. Ellis deserves credit for shaking things up, but this should only be the beginning.
Getty ImagesRich Barnes
The USWNT needs to test themselves against better teams
Switzerland are not exactly a powerhouse in women's soccer. They only qualified for the World Cup last summer due to an expanded field and got knocked out in the round of 16. Testing a 3-5-2 formation against a team that had very little going forward didn't tell us much about whether a three-back with Allie Long as the anchor is actually a good idea. The Swiss, on the other hand, struggled defensively and let the Americans have their way at times, especially late in the game as tired legs tend to open matches up for the USWNT. The number of elite teams in women's soccer is relatively small, but the USWNT needs to start playing more games against teams like Germany and France.