Greg Ryan is the coach of the USA women's World Cup team, and he thinks he's a great soccer tactician. He DELIBERATELY has the US playing a bonehead, boot the ball up to the forwards style. Like Sir Alex Ferguson is a fool for teaching his players to possess. Guus Hiddink -- clearly knows nothing about soccer. Ditto Klinsmann. All those managers have it wrong. Greg Ryan has the superior tactical knowledge -- he thinks.
So if someone asks you why the US team is playing such ugly soccer, you tell them: BECAUSE THEIR COACH IS AN IDIOT. He doesn't believe in technique or possession. Let's hope our team's pure talent lets them win the Cup despite their coach's 80s tactics.
FIFA.com: Direct US reflect new realities
With Wambach's 78 goals in 96 internationals, this reliance on her forward power seems to have its benefits, even if it provides a contrast with the days when Hamm, Tiffeny Milbrett and Joy Fawcett were moving the ball around the field in a short-passing style. According to coach Ryan, though, the new way is simply a reflection of an overall improvement in the level of the women's game worldwide. "The game has changed so much in the last seven or eight years," Ryan told FIFA.com ahead of the Group B leaders' game in Shanghai against Nigeria.
"Back then, you could get away with playing little passes all over the field and have success doing it. But in the modern game, a team that just knocks the ball around the middle of the park is going to get killed doing it," continued Ryan, who replaced 1991 world champion-turned-coach April Heinrichs in 2005 and signalled a shift from the technique-driven short-passing game to a more physical and direct style.
The only way
"If you spend all your time trying to look pretty, you're going to end up with big problems the other way," said Ryan, who lined up alongside Franz Beckenbauer and Carlos Alberto in his playing days with New York Cosmos. "We try to attack, exploit the space and turn it into goals," he said. "This is the only way to play now. Look at what happened to China when they were risking things right in front of their own goal against Brazil. They got stuffed 4-0."
Wambach's second goal against the Swedes, her third in two matches, was as direct as you will see - a long ball from Lilly in midfield, controlled with the chest and hit ferociously on the half-volley. Far from ugly or overly simple, the strike was an artistic and elegant statement about the efficiency that has crept into the women's game.
Far from the backward step that some have labelled it, USA's new direct style speaks to improvements across the board - largely inspired by the Americans' previous dominance. But opponents and fellow contenders like Brazil, Germany, and Korea DPR, who still play an attractive short-passing game, would be mistaken if they thought the Americans had become a one-trick pony.
"Every game is different," said Lilly, who has seen it all in a career spanning nearly 20 years. "If we get something out of going up over the top, then we'll do that. But if we can get the ball down and move it around and beat a team that way, that would be great too." As the women's game undergoes undeniable changes and rapid shifts - all visible here in China - USA's desire to be the best is the same as it ever was.