February 13, 2016
By Michael Lewis
NOT SO SECRET WEAPON ANYMORE
But USA women hint they could use that kickoff set piece again or a variation of it
FRISCO, Texas -- Just because the United States has used that surprising set piece on one opening kickoff doesn't necessarily mean they have mothballed it away from the rest of the CONCACAF Women's Olympic Qualifying Championship.
The Americans could very well use it sooner than you think.
It certainly worked to perfection as six players touched the ball -- all but the back four and goalkeeper Hope Solo -- before Alex Morgan volleyed the ball home 12 seconds into the match in the 5-0 rout of Costa Rica in the Group A opener Wednesday night.
When a reporter said that perhaps the USA should have a wrinkle to that play because Mexico coach Leonardo Cuellar said that would be ready for such a maneuver in Saturday's encounter at Toyota Stadium and USA defender Meghan Klingenberg replied with a chuckle, "We're scouted, huh? You know what? Maybe the wrinkle will be we'll do the exact same thing. It doesn't matter."
Klingenberg couldn't say whether the USA would use the same play Saturday. Of course, it would come down to the coin toss.
"All know is that when we have a plan, we go out there ane execute it and regardless if that's the same plan or if it has a wrinkle thrown in," she said. "What we try to do is score goals and execute. We were able to do that on the opening kickoff and hopefully we'll be able to do that on opening kickoffs to come."
Not surprisingly, Cuellar's goal is not to repeat history. By the time a rattled Costa Rica recovered from the stunning score, the USA enjoyed a three-goal advantage.
"We're going to try to avoid what happened to Costa Rica because Costa Rica is a lot better team than what they showed against the us," he said. "We know that for a fact. But to take a goal in the first few seconds is going to shake you. So we're going to have to be very strong in the beginning."
In fact, Cuellar said that he hoped the Mexicans learned that lesson when Brazil scored a similar goal off a kickoff in a recent international friendly.
"So we are aware of that," he said. "But at the same time, the quality of players you play against, their technique gives them the opportunity, so we have to be very careful."