ADVERTISEMENT

USWNT penalty takers: How are things after fights against Colombia

ADVERTISEMENT

The US women’s national team cruised to a 3-0 victory in Commerce City, Colorado on Saturday night, but Colombia goalkeeper Catalina Perez was one of the game’s biggest stories, saving no not one, but two penalty kick attempts during the match. .

Lindsey Horan, a Colorado native and the first to see Perez hook her attempt, interrupted a question about the two saves in the mixed zone. “Yeah,” she said with a smile, “that sucks, huh?”

The unpleasantness of the moment aside, the moment may have been a bit of a blessing in disguise. Two penalty saves in a friendly before a major tournament where penalties could become a factor are certainly preferable to the alternative.

ADVERTISEMENT

“We’ve prepared really well for these kinds of moments,” Horan said. “Obviously, (Perez) had two great saves. Rose and I know we need to be better right now. This happens, and we move on. Each one is an independent moment. I had all the faith in the world in Rose at that point, and then the next one I have, he’s going to score.”

Ultimately, based on everyone’s feedback on the team’s approach to penalty kicks, it looks like nothing will change beyond some extra practice being thrown into the mix. As Megan Rapinoe said in the mixed zone after the game: “That’s going to be the rotation going forward: Lindsey is number one, Rose is number two.”

On Monday, head coach Vlatko Andonovksi expanded his decision-making role when it comes to choosing penalty takers for the team.

“First and foremost is the data we have: Both Lindsey and Rose have been tremendous taking penalties in practice and in the league, or wherever the markets are,” he said. Horan generally hasn’t been a designated taker for his club teams, with Christine Sinclair the option in Portland and responsibilities at Lyon split between various players. Lavelle’s record at club level this year is one of two with the Reign.

Lindsey Horan PK Attempts 2021-2022

Date Equipment Adversary Converted? grades

06/25/22

USA

Colombia

Nope

Saved

11/26/21

USA

Australia

Yes

06/13/21

USA

Jamaica

Yes

8/5/21

thorns

Gotham city

Yes

Challenge Cup shootout

Rose Lavelle PK Attempts 2021-2022

Date Equipment Adversary Converted? grades

06/25/22

USA

Colombia

Nope

Saved

4/5/22

Reign

Spirit

Yes

05/01/22

Reign

Spirit

Nope

Saved

7/30/21

USA

Netherlands

Yes

olympic quarterfinal shootout

9/5/21

manchester city

western ham

Nope

Saved

And while Rapinoe and Alex Morgan are back on the roster, it sounds like Andonovski is hoping they’ll both play a bigger role off the bench.

“We have to have someone who we think is going to be a regular starter, in and out of the game, to be designated as the penalty kick taker,” he said. “Even after the fact that they (Horan and Lavelle) missed a penalty, I don’t think anything is going to change. We believe in his competence and ability to score penalty kicks.”

That training data will never be publicly available, leaving us outsiders with only game data to work with. And there is no indication yet of how the USWNT could approach a penalty shootout, either at the W Championships or the 2023 World Cup. In the Olympic quarterfinal victory against the Netherlands last year, Lavelle, Morgan, Christen Press and Rapinoe all converted in the decisive shootout.

Lavelle’s place in the order could change, but she’s a lock. Morgan and Rapinoe are also options this summer. Starter or not, Andonovski would likely cause an international incident if he didn’t replace Rapinoe for a spot in the penalty shootout.

Megan Rapinoe PK Attempts 2021-2022

Date Equipment Adversary Converted? grades

10/13/21

Reign

thorns fc

Yes

8/29/21

Reign

thorns fc

Yes

08/21/21

Reign

Gotham city

Yes

08/21/21

Reign

Gotham city

Yes

7/30/21

USA

Netherlands

Yes

Olympic QF Ranking

04/13/21

USA

France

Yes

04/10/21

USA

Sweden

Yes

01/22/21

USA

Colombia

Yes

Morgan also has a strong case for being one of the five considering her NWSL form this year, with four penalties and a 100% conversion rate.

Alex Morgan PK Attempts 2021-2022

Date Equipment Adversary Converted? grades

6/4/22

Wave FC

Current

Yes

05/15/22

Wave FC

red stars

Yes

5/7/22

Wave FC

Gotham city

Yes

5/7/22

Wave FC

Gotham city

Yes

7/30/21

USA

Netherlands

Yes

olympic quarterfinal shootout

10/13/21

Pride

red stars

Nope

left width

05/30/21

Pride

Current

Nope

right post

Those are four names for a hypothetical shooting this summer in Mexico. So who could take that final place?

There is no other name available on the roster that has taken a penalty for the USWNT: Carli Lloyd was in the mix before her retirement, Morgan Brian and Sam Mewis have each taken and converted their only try. Again, there is no visibility into training data, but there may be a case for players based on their performances in the NWSL, which broadens the field.

Sophia Smith and Mal Push have converted penalties this season in the NWSL. With Smith and Pugh making up two-thirds of the starting forward line, both could be options (depending on substitutions).

However, looking back at the 2021 season may provide one of the best candidates: defensive midfielder Andi Sullivan. He converted three penalties for the Washington Spirit in their run to the NWSL Championship and victory in Louisville. He scored one against Kansas City in September, then against Racing in October, before finishing with one in the championship game against Chicago for a tie. Considering his increased role as the USWNT No. 6 and Andonovski’s confidence in his game, he may also be one of the players most likely to be on the field for a shootout.

Two other potential names to consider based on successful penalty kicks in the NWSL, though both have been fighting for substantial USWNT minutes: Ashley Hatch and Midge Purce.

But despite all the possibilities, Horan and Lavelle may be the only ones we see set foot in the place for a while.

“I think it’s important that they see the confidence that we have in them,” Andonovski said Monday, “and more importantly, that they have the support of someone like Megan Rapinoe. She believes they are good at what they are doing, and she is supporting them and also helping in any way that she can from her own experience.”

On Saturday night, Rapinoe acknowledged the frustration of the moment, but said there will be long-term benefits if both Horan and Lavelle use it as an opportunity to review their own routine from the spot.

“It’s good to miss out, it’s good to have that experience and get it in a friendly and not a big game,” he said. “Either way, whatever happens, just step up and take it. Do your routine, be confident and the rest is it.”

(Photo: Justin Tafoya/ISI Photos)

sniloans