Powell lauds Lions after win over USA
Sunday, 03 April, 2011
National Coach congratulates team, but warns against complacency.
by Glenn Lavery
Hope Powell praised her side’s efforts in defeating USA at Leyton Orient on Saturday night, but refused to get carried away with a landmark victory over the number one ranked side in the world.
First-half goals from Jess Clarke and Rachel Yankey gave England a 2-0 lead over the former world champions and although Megan Rapinoe reduced arrears just before the break, giving the visitors hope for the second half, the Three Lions held on for their first win over USA for 22 years.
“If you perform well the result generally takes care of itself and I thought that was the case [against USA],” began Powell. “The performance was very professional. We approached the game the way we wanted to and everybody played a part.
“We worked on certain things during the week, the players implemented them and we scored two good goals. It was a great result but we mustn’t get ahead of ourselves. These results have got to happen when it matters and the World Cup is when it matters.”
The World Cup is just under three months away and although the National Coach is keen to temper expectation ahead of Germany 2011, she believes England are on track for 27 June, the day of their first World Cup match – against Mexico in Wolfsburg.
“We had a good [training] camp in January and we have just built from there,” she said.
“We’re on track with what we want to do. We recognise the three teams we’ve got in the group, we know what’s ahead of us. It’s a very, very tough group and it should be; it’s a World Cup.
“We’ve got another game in May but it was really important to me that we played America and I’m sure they wanted to play us, which is a compliment. It was about setting a benchmark and seeing where we are in the world. The important thing was that we proved we can compete.
“We’re making steady progress and we just need to ensure that we peak at the right time. It’s in the World Cup that it matters but this result is a good foundation to build on. We have to be pleased.”
This was England’s first win over USA under Powell’s 13-year stewardship and she was quick to laud the performances of a number of her players at the Matchroom Stadium. Midfielder Fara Williams received the Player of the Match award, goalkeeper Karen Bardsley made a number of key saves in the second period and the hosts’ engine room provided a base for the win, while Ellen White’s relentless running up top ensured the American defence were always under pressure.
“If players perform individually and everybody does their job then you’ve always got a chance of getting something out of the game and I think we did that for most of the game.
“Fara put herself about and really bossed it in midfield. But life was made easy for her by the work ethic of Jill [Scott] and having Kelly Smith in there as well.
“I thought Karen Bardsley was excellent. She’s a big player with a big presence. Faye [White] also did well, struggling with an injury.
"[Ellen White’s] work ethic is tremendous. She’s a young girl with big ambitions. She will chase everything down and she gives us an ‘out’. It’s something different and we’re pleased we’ve got that. Some days it’s about her scoring and other days it’s about running your legs off to help the team and she did that very well.
“The nice thing is that we’re now in a position where we can bring quality players from the bench. Players like Karen Carney, Eniola Aluko and Anita Asante were all on the bench [on Saturday] and that bodes well for the future.”
The near future is dominated by thoughts of Germany and the chance to improve on a quarter final exit four years ago, when they were knocked out by USA. Powell maintains that her focus is simply on progressing from the group - a group that is completed by the Japan and New Zealand – and has called on her charges to build on Saturday evening’s victory.
“The reason we had this fixture was because I felt it was time,” she admitted. “I wanted it as a benchmark to see how much we have progressed, certainly since I was a player. We’ve been beaten 6-0 by them in the past, we lost 3-0 to them in the  World Cup. We’ve lost, we’ve lost, we’ve lost. We won [on Saturday] and it’s a good feeling for everybody involved. We just mustn’t get too ahead of ourselves.
“We were a bit disappointed in [conceding] the goal. At this level against teams like that you can’t afford to give those goals away, so although there are a lot of positives, there’s lots that we still need to do to ensure that we give ourselves the best possible chance in the future.
“I think we are improving, though. We need to strive to make sure we continue to get better and we must not rest on our laurels.
“But the guys are delighted; we’ve just beaten the number one team in the world.”