Meola: World Cup Win Over Spain "A Wake-Up Call"

The U.S. were challenged from start to finish against Spain on Monday – and it's not going to get any easier

Taz and the Moose
June 25, 2019 - 10:18 am
Alex Morgan USWNT Spain World Cup

USA Today Images

Categories: 

The U.S. Women’s National Team held on to beat Spain, 2-1, in the knockout stage on Monday, this after Megan Rapinoe buried a pair of penalty kicks – one in the first half, one in the second.

But make no mistake: the U.S. were challenged much more than many fans and analysts expected.

“I don’t know if I would call it a scare as much as I’d call it a wake-up call,” former U.S. goalie Tony Meola said on Taz & The Moose. “That’s what they’re going to see moving forward in this tournament.”

Especially this Friday against France in the quarterfinals. The host country is 4-0 in the World Cup and beat Brazil, 2-1, on Sunday.

“I think the pressure is on France because of the home field,” Meola said. “There’s been so much made about it’s really, really odd that the two best teams in the world are matching up in the quarterfinals. FIFA, I think, missed the mark here because what a great final it would be if they both get there. But I think that pressure is no doubt on France. This is about as even a matchup as you’re going to find.”

After scoring 16 goals in wins over Thailand and Chile, the U.S. were held to four goals in wins over Sweden and Spain. Two of them, as mentioned, came via penalties.

“I think the one thing we’ve learned over the last two games – maybe it doesn’t sit well with the U.S., and they’ve dealt with it OK – is being really, really physical with them,” Meola said. “Keep in mind they’re the best team in the world, so they go into most games having the ball all the time, just dominating possession and putting teams under pressure. When you have your opportunities to step on the throat, they’ve been able to do that. It’s not going to be like that. They have to be sharp.”

Indeed, the team’s 13-0 win over Thailand was an anomaly. The U.S. should expect white-knuckle matches from here on out.

“I think they were trying to make a statement with that game,” Meola said of the U.S. team’s win over Thailand. “France is obviously one of the teams everybody is looking at, and (the U.S.) went into that saying, ‘OK, we got to lay a marker down here.’ Me personally, I wasn’t a huge fan. Score as many goals as you need to score because at the end of the day, goal differential matters in a tournament. Go score 50 if you can. I wasn’t a huge fan of the celebrations, if I’m being completely honest, but it seems we’ve gotten past that, everyone has learned from that, and now it gets a little tougher. I’m not sure we’ll have as many opportunities to celebrate.”

Click below to listen to Meola’s interview in its entirety.