Scotland’s Performance Shows The Diminishing Divide Between USWNT And Europe
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The Scotland women’s national team gave the U.S. all it could handle on Tuesday at St Mirren Park, and although there was warm applause for Alex Morgan and an audible intake of breath amongst the 3,790 in attendance during the USWNT’s best passages of play, the Scots will have left their home supporters looking forward to next summer’s World Cup with keen anticipation.
While Scotland’s men’s side hasn’t qualified for a major international tournament in 20 years, it’s been onwards and upwards for the women since qualifying for Euro 2017, where they actually recorded a win over Spain before narrowly missing out on the knockout stage.
The nation’s first-ever appearance at the women’s Euros was subsequently followed by its first-ever successful World Cup qualification campaign. Back on Sept. 5, a 2-1 win over Albania secured top spot in UEFA Group 2 to the detriment of Switzerland, which made it to the Round of 16 at the 2015 World Cup.
Scotland’s only slip-up of the entire process was a 1-0 away defeat to the Swiss, and the country recorded a perfect home record (including three wins at St Mirren Park) while scoring 12 goals and conceding only two.
On Tuesday, the Scots were without the injured Arsenal trio of vice-captain Kim Little (a two-time NWSL Best XI selection), Lisa Evans (17 goals in 73 appearances) and defender Emma Mitchell (57 caps), but there was still a lot of quality on the field for the home team.
29-year-old Jane Ross (56 goals in 118 games) attempted to do the most with what came her way while leading the line, 20-year-old attacker Erin Cuthbert looks an incredible talent and 23-year-old holding midfielder Caroline Weir wasn’t fazed by what's certainly the most difficult task in the women's game.
The same could certainly be said of the defensive partnership of captain Rachel Corsie (100 caps) and Jennifer Beattie (115) — they took Carli Lloyd out of the game time after time.
After watching the USWNT absolutely decimate foes during the Concacaf Women's Championship, it was somewhat refreshing to see a side complete 123 passes (compared to 282 for the USWNT) during first half play to go along with forcing two corners.
Scotland frustrated the USWNT, perhaps best exemplified by Mallory Pugh’s theatrical second half reaction to the slightest bit of contact in the box. (It was poetic justice that Lloyd sent her penalty thundering off the crossbar.)
In the end, the U.S. finished 2018 undefeated, but Scotland only registered two shots less (8 to 10) and finished with two on target as opposed to three for the USWNT.
With a brave resistance at the back, technical quality in midfield and a nice blend of youth and experience in attack, Scotland’s poised to make a mark at next summer’s World Cup.