The United States has been struggling ever since Jill Ellis took over as manager last year. And now, with the World Cup only three months away, the Americans sure don't look ready to compete for the crown of the best team on Earth.
The latest piece of evidence of the Americans' problems came in a scoreless draw against Iceland in the Algarve Cup on Monday. And after the match, Iceland manager Frey Alexandersson took the U.S. and Ellis to task.
"We forced them to play the long ball since after watching their first two games, we saw that when they get under pressure they tend to resort to the long ball," Alexandersson said to Fox Soccer. "I don’t understand it because they can play the ball on the grass. I would expect a team 20 seeds (ahead of us in the world rankings) would trash us.’’
Alexandersson is right in every sense, and this isn't new for the Americans. Over the last few months, Ellis has turned the team into one unable to break teams down and handle pressure. This despite despite having plenty of talent through the midfield and a series of ineffective showings proving a needs to change course. As soon as pressure comes, they boot the ball up field and that's a hell of a lot easier to defend than a team that keeps the ball and dictates tempo.
If Iceland can see this and exploit it, what will happen when the U.S. plays Sweden at the World Cup? Or Germany? Or France?
Ellis has a lot of questions to answer, and not much time left to come up with those answers.
Making matters more concerning is how Ellis responded to Alexandersson saying that if he was the American manager, he would be unhappy.
"Maybe he’s unhappy because his team is at the bottom of the group,’’ Ellis said.
Alexandersson was entirely right, and Ellis response was to take a petty shot at Iceland. It's just another piece of evidence that the U.S. program has become one unable to deal with criticism or embrace change.
There isn't a lot of reason to be optimistic about the U.S. right now. Their performances don't indicate a team ready to shine, nor does their leadership, and even Iceland is bringing it to light now.