2015 Women’s World Cup – United States vs Nigeria – Americans Win Group Despite Nigeria Patching Up Achilles’ Heel…Mostly

Starting Tactical Lineup (from FIFA.com)

Starting Tactical Lineup (from FIFA.com)

(Ed. Note: Hindsight!)

PRE – OK, let’s try this again. The United States have played one painfully uneven match, in the opener against Australia, and one brutal to watch draw with Sweden. They’ll win the group if they don’t fluff their lines against Nigeria, but the actual performance may be more important coming out of this one. For their part, Nigeria crashed back to Earth against Australia and are staring elimination in the face if they don’t win today. Given how they’ve defended on set pieces, that doesn’t look very likely.

2’ – Rapinoe gets a chance to swing in a dangerous free kick from the near side. Nigeria don’t exactly clear convincingly, but the flag’s up anyway.

5’ – Given Nigeria’s track record, every set piece against has the chance to be an adventure, and Rapinoe might have something at the far post. However, it curves just a bit too far for the runners, going behind for a goal kick.

6’ – Rapinoe gets to the endline and tries to drive in a deep cross, but there’s nobody close to getting onto the end of it.

8’ – Another dangerous free kick. Holiday drives one in with pace from the far flank, a few yards out from the endline. Dede parries, and Nigeria clear. Not for long though, as the U.S. chips back in, with Wambach then squaring to a wide open Johnston who finishes…only to see the flag go up for offside. Replays show that that’s a terrible call, with both Wambach and Johnston well onside when the ball was chipped back in.

12’ – Great chance for Nigeria. Nwabuoku plays a cross into the area, where Dike brings it down but can’t get it off her foot. It’s eventually prodded away, falling back to Oshoala, but her low, hard shot is held well by Solo.

15’ – The U.S. miss a golden opportunity to go ahead. Krieger’s cross is flicked by Morgan, but Heath’s first touch is awful. When she tries to pass back, Chukwunonye intercepts as Nigeria break the other way.

17’ – Heath chips a beautifully weighted ball into the area, right into the stride of Wambach. She makes a hash of the chip over the keeper, but the flag goes up for offside. Marginal at best.

17’ – Amazingly, Nigeria stand off Rapinoe and let her dribble up the pitch before uncorking a laser that Dede awkwardly blocks behind. The African side are on their heels. Wambach heads well wide as DiCicco throws some shade her way for the turf comments.

22’ – Nigeria win a couple of corners, and there’s an almighty wrestling match going on in the six on the second delivery. It doesn’t amount to much though, and the U.S. clears easily.

24’ – Nearly a disaster for the U.S. Okobi plays a tremendous ball into space as Johnston runs 1v1 with Oshoala. The Nigerian gets the better of that matchup, gaining a half-step on the center-back. Johnston slides in and deflects the shot out behind for a corner. Nigeria hoofs it back in after the initial clearance, but they put it well over the bar.

27’ – Morgan gets to the endline and plays a cutback that isn’t really near anyone, though Rapinoe hustles to get to it. She can’t do anything with it though, and Nigeria hoof clear.

29’ – Nigerian offense beginning to find a little bit of a foothold. They play another great ball from midfield that looks to spring Dike, but Sauerbrunn dives in to sweep into touch.

32’ – Nigeria not showing the nuance offensively they displayed against Sweden, as they hoof long again. Ordega outruns the defense to the endline but fires an ill-conceived shot into the sidenetting.

33’ – Holiday sprays a beautiful ball out left to Klingenberg who crosses towards Wambach, but Chukwunonye makes a crucial leaping header. They half-clear, and Rapinoe forces Dede into a sprawling save at the near post for a corner. Corner doesn’t come to anything, but Rapinoe’s attempted service hit Okobi’s hand/arm. Definitely a shout for a penalty.

36’ – U.S. with a dangerous free kick opportunity, but Morgan’s flick header prompts the flag to go up for offside.

38’ – YELLOW CARD – Nigeria (Nnodim) – The Nigerian full-back clips Heath’s heels at center circle and goes in the book for it.

39’ – Another golden opportunity for the U.S., as Holiday plays a diagonal ball into space to Morgan. Dede takes her time coming off her line and slides, but it does the trick, blocking the ball over for a corner. Corner played short again. Arrrrrgh. Why? And of course, it’s blocked away.

42’ – Heath wins a corner off Sunday. Rapinoe gets two cracks at it and plays it into the box twice, but Lloyd puts it a mile off-target.

43’ – YELLOW CARD – Nigeria (Ebi) – That’s a yellow all day, as Ebi comes steaming in with both feet to send Rapinoe flying after the winger threatened to break free down the flank.

45’ – GOAL – United States (Wambach) – Nigeria were never going to survive giving up such an absurd amount of set pieces. Rapinoe swings in a corner, and Wambach breaks free to clout it home with a thunderous leaping volley.

HT – Nigeria have looked dangerous in fits and starts when they’ve been able to run at defenders 1v1 but have been let down by some bad decision making, along with some great last ditch defending. For their part, they’ve defended set-pieces better for the most part but are giving up too many of them and paid the price near the end of the half. The U.S. were good value for their lead, but they still look notably out of sync in the run of play.
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2015 Women’s World Cup – Australia vs Sweden – Sweden Unimpressive Again in Awful Match

Starting Tactical Lineup (from FIFA.com)

Starting Tactical Lineup (from FIFA.com)

PRE – A crunch match in the alleged Group of Death. Australia bounced back from their opening match loss to the U.S. to convincingly beat Nigeria and will look to keep it rolling against a Sweden side that have not hit their best at this WWC. Pia Sundhage’s charges didn’t defend as abjectly as they did against Nigeria in the opener when they played the U.S., but the offense in turned looked painfully lethargic. Will they have enough in the tank to come from behind if fast starting Australia put them under the cosh early?

2’ – Already trouble for Sweden, as they head out a Catley cross but only to Emily Van Egmond, who hits a spectacular half-volley over the bar. Would’ve been a contender for goal of the tournament.

3’ – Sweden already having serious problems defending full-backs, as this time Foord skips over Nilsson’s challenge and serves near post as Sweden scramble away.

5’ – GOAL – Australia (De Vanna) – How simple a goal is that? Australia serve it route one from the backline, and De Vanna lets it bounce into her stride as the Swedish backline struggle to keep pace. 1v1 against Lindahl, and it’s an easy finish. Oh, Sweden…

8’ – Awkward moment, as it looks like Kerr’s studs get caught in the turf, sending her down awkwardly, with Samuelsson getting endline before Foord swoops in to block out for a corner. Ilestedt heads the corner over.

15’ – GOAL – Sweden (Jakobsson) – Kellond-Knight has a slip on the turf, and it proves a costly one, as Sweden pounce on the turnover and counter ferociously. Switched all the way to the right flank, Jakobsson cuts inside and delivers a fizzing shot that beats Lydia Williams at the near post. Williams will be disappointed to have given that one up.

18’ – Australia don’t do a great job stopping runners in the box on a corner, resulting in Ilestedt getting a free header, which she puts just wide. Missed opportunity, that.

25’ – Australia are devoting so many numbers at the six to defend corners that it’s opening up opportunities for Swedish players hanging out between the six and the eighteen. Case in point, a delivery is headed half-cleared by Australia but right to Seger who chests down and fires, but Williams palms over brilliantly. Australia does a better job of clearing initially, but Sjogran chips it back in to a just onside Jakobsson, who shoots right into Williams’ feet. Schelin’s follow-up is blocked by a defender, and a foul on Sweden is called soon after. Nervy moments.

34’ – It’s been a game of half-chances after that madcap opening, and Kerr’s cross into the area that’s plucked out of the air by Lindahl’s about as good as it’s gotten for a while.

36’ – Gorry sends a shot through traffic at the top of the box, but it flitters wide. Australia coming back into things a bit after a rough spell.

41’ – De Vanna turns on the jets, getting to the endline from the far flank after toasting Rubensson. Her cutback is inaccurate though, and Dahlkvist clears.

44’ – Sjogran takes a free kick from a dangerous area and sees it bounce inside the six but right into the safe arms of Williams.

45’ – Catley gets down the line again, but her cross is too close to Lindahl, who jumps and grabs with ease.

HT – Well, it’s not really percolated into a barnburner after such a hot start. Sweden’s defense has calmed down, and with the exception of some woes in covering the full-backs, they’ve limited Australia’s chances. At the other end, Sweden have found some holes in Australia’s set piece defense but haven’t been able to make them count, while they’ve also shown problems making the breakthrough in the run of play after that first goal.
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2015 Women’s World Cup – Cameroon vs Switzerland – Cameroon Weather Early Storm, Break Swiss In Second Half

Starting Tactical Lineup (from FIFA.com)

Starting Tactical Lineup (from FIFA.com)

PRE – On paper, this is now one of the most intriguing matches of the group stage’s final round of games. Cameroon showed very well against Japan despite their defeat and will be looking for the upset to go through as runners-up in the group. Switzerland poured on the goals against Ecuador in their last match, but they also haven’t been impressive as advertised on the whole. They should win if they play to their potential…which is far from guaranteed.

1’ – Within twenty seconds, Bachmann’s played into space down the flank and has a cross blocked. Ominous.

8’ – It’s percolating here with some half-chances early. Switzerland plays a short free kick to Bachmann who’s left way, way too open. She’s too ponderous on the ball though, and Cameroon clamps down, forcing her to pass it back.

10’ – Yango scythes down Bachmann about thirty-five yards from goal. Cameroon struggles to hold the Swiss runners on the free kick, but the delivery’s just ahead of Crnogorcevic. Wasted chance.

17’ – Dickenmann gets down the line and aims a cross into the six at Humm, but Ngo Ndom rises well to intercept.

18’ – So close for Cameroon. Zouga delivers a corner to the near post, and Manie ghosts in to head just wide. Her run wasn’t racked at all by the Swiss defense.

19’ – YELLOW CARD – Cameroon (Feudjio) – Feudjio stands Moser up a bit late with a shoulder charge, and she’s booked for her trouble.

20’ – Switzerland nearly get the opener. Moser lifts a long ball forward, and the Cameroon defense handles it poorly, clanging it around to the feet of Bachmann. Ngo Ndom goes down well to save though, and it skitters just wide of the post. Corner’s cleared easily.

24’ – GOAL – Switzerland (Bachmann) – The European side have the initiative. Dickenmann takes it inside and slips a beautifully weighted pass to Bachmann, who explodes to the endline before crossing it. Deflection off of Awona tees it up perfectly for Crnogorcevic who slips it under Ngo Ndom, who went down stiffly. Haphazard marking of the forward by Cameroon.

26’ – Dickenmann cuts back a bouncing ball towards Humm, but this time, she’s tightly marked in the box, and it goes out for a goal kick.

30’ – Bodies bouncing off each other as each team tries to outmuscle the other. Enganamouit doesn’t lose too many of those battles, and she barges Kiwic off the ball at midfield before driving towards goal. She passes to Onguene, whose cross is headed away. Switzerland can only clear to Zouga though, who dances around and fires an off-balance shot high and wide.

31’ – Switzerland give it away really cheaply out of the back, setting up a 4v2 break. Onguene gets it and only has one thought on her mind, charging at goal, but Thalmann comes off her line and slides to claim.

33’ – The chances keep on coming, as Yango steps up and hits a low, hard shot from range that Thalmann has to go down and save. Switzerland need to get more pressure on the ball.

35’ – YELLOW CARD – Cameroon (Nchout) – A booking for the WNY Flash forward who almost gives Kuster a mini-lariat as they fight for the ball at center circle.

36’ – Great chance for Switzerland. They cross towards the six, with the increasingly dodgy Awona missing her header, letting Humm get a head to it. Ngo Ndom makes a brilliant reflex save though, and Ejangue clears.

38’ – Rinast’s long throw is head volleyed by about three Swiss players until Bachmann tries to volley home but only makes slight contact, letting Ngo Ndom save easily.

40’ – Chipped ball to Bachmann, who plays it beautifully beyond the hapless Awona. Ngo Ndom comes sliding off her line to claim though.

41’ – Zouga sends a long ball that Onguene traps well. She does what she does after, skipping around the flat-footed Kuster to the endline, but Maritz shields Enganamouit from her cutback. Zouga fires over the bar a little later.

44’ – Everything great and awful about Cameroon in a few seconds. Enganamouit flicks it beautifully over Waelti but chooses to shoot from an impossible angle instead of squaring for Onguene in the box. The other Cameroonian star lets Enganamouit know about that decision.

HT – It’s been a thrilling forty-five minutes in a back and forth affair between these two teams. Switzerland nailed the opener and threatened for more but came back to Earth in the last five minutes of the half, where Onguene and Enganamouit began to get into a groove. Will they be able to keep it going after the break, or can the European side put this one out of reach?
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2015 Women’s World Cup – Japan vs Ecuador – Holders Sleepwalk to Uninspiring Win

Starting Tactical Lineup (from FIFA.com)

Starting Tactical Lineup (from FIFA.com)

PRE – Intrigue in this one? Well, not much. Japan can pretty much call their shot given the evidence Ecuador’s provided thus far in heavy defeats to both Cameroon and Switzerland. It seems far more likely that the Asian side will use this as an opportunity to rotate their squad and rest their most important players before the business end of the tournament. For Ecuador, it’s just about improvement over their first two matches. They’ve been resolute early in those, but once things started going downhill, they snowballed quickly.

2’ – Danger already for Ecuador, as Miyama sends a cross in on a rope after a short corner, with Kitahara heading wide at the far post.

5’ – GOAL – Japan (Ogimi) – Oh, Ecuador. Long cross from the far side from Miyama flies in to Sugasawa near the six who attacks it with a flying kick. Yuki Ogimi volleys home on the deflection. The keeper, Berruz, came for it, didn’t get it, and was punished.

6’ – Kawamura struggles with Quinteros’ pace down the right flank and clumsily stumbles into the Ecuadorian attacker, conceding a foul on the far edge of the box. Ponce puts too much on the free kick towards the back post though, and it curves out for a goal kick.

15’ – A bit choppier than expected given Japan’s involvement, but they have the next big chance on a free kick. Miyama doesn’t shoot, instead squaring to Ohno as the ref scatters. Her shot is weak and right to Berruz.

17’ – YELLOW CARD – Japan (Ohno) – Ohno and Ogimi play a nice triangle of passes ending with Ariyoshi, who totally styles her defender, nutmegging her and hopping over another tackle before floating a cross that Miyama heads into the ground and off the bar with an assist from Berruz. Ohno rakes her studs across Olvera in an aerial challenge as Ecuador clear and is booked.

21’ – Ogimi puts a header off a corner kick high of the goal. You get the feeling that the lack of organization on set pieces is going to bite Ecuador sooner rather than later in this one.

22’ – Quinteros has looked Ecuador’s most lively player early and nearly creates a chance off the counter. She skips around Kitahara’s challenge but gets obstructed by Sawa and goes down. No call. Ecuador’s going to need more support for her.

28’ – Kitahara drives in a diagonal ball from the near side that Berruz fumbles. It drops to Sugasawa, who volleys over the ball, but a foul is called anyway.

30’ – Sawa header off a free kick near the endline on the far side goes off-target. Ecuador’s going to get burned if they keep giving up set pieces in dangerous areas.

38’ – Japan gets Ecuador on the carousel as the ping it round and round before Sawa corks a shot wide. Not very sharp in the final third for Japan, but Ecuador isn’t showing much beyond Quinteros’ pace on offense.

39’ – Tanaka fires a low daisycutter right to Berruz. It’s not very inspired in terms of creativity offensively for Japan right now.

39’ – YELLOW CARD – Ecuador (Vasquez) – Ariyoshi has her legs swept out from under her as she passes it away. Easy booking.

40’ – There’s no communication between keeper and defenders on the resulting free kick, with Berruz coming for it and seeing Pesantes flash forward and knock it behind for a corner. Corner is cleared away after a blocked shot.

HT – Well, it’s not exactly been a stormer, has it? Japan looked to be on their way to a heavy mauling of Ecuador after scoring early but haven’t exactly been off to the races since. They should be able to inflict serious damage on paper considering how woeful the organization of the Ecuador defense has been, but the minnows are still in it. In theory, anyway. Ecuador have provided little going forward and will need something drastic to get back onto level terms.
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2015 Women’s World Cup – Canada vs Holland – Hosts Waste Chances Early, Get Pegged Back Late

Starting Tactical Lineup (from FIFA.com)

Starting Tactical Lineup (from FIFA.com)

PRE – The hosts are in pole position to advance to the knockout stages as group winners, but they haven’t played well at all up to this point and will be looking to close out group play in style. Opponents Holland looked decent in a win over New Zealand before getting smacked by China in every department but the scoreline. They really need a result here, because three points might not get the job done when all is said and done.

3’ – Hairy moment early on for Canada, as they let a long Spitse free kick bounce near the six, but it goes behind to the relief of the partisan crowd.

6’ – Van de Donk plays a suicidal backpass towards her backline that is instead intercepted by Sinclair. The defenders swarm her but can’t clear, with the ball running to Lawrence. Her shot is blocked into the air, with Schmidt heading the ball onto the bar and over.

7’ – Lawrence is up for it. Chapman finds her in the middle of a zone, and she gets all the way to the endline, with her cross being blocked out for a corner. The delivery’s not much, and Holland get it away.

10’ – GOAL – Canada (Lawrence) – The stadium erupts. Throw-in to a posted up Sinclair is passed back to Schmidt, who hits a low, diagonal ball towards the six. Van der Gragt with a clumsy attempted clear keeps it away from Leon but knocks it right into the path of Ashley Lawrence, who beats Spitse to the ball and lashes home far post. Nice goal, not so nice defending.

11’ – Canada come close to doubling their lead, as Holland are all over the shop early. They’ve won the ball back before the replays for the last goal have finished, and Lawrence is unmarked to deliver a low shot fractionally wide of the post.

12’ – More problems, as the Dutch defense is getting shredded right now. Schmidt gets out to the wing and has all the space in the world to run into. Her cross to the far post finds Leon, who has a shot blocked by van Lunteren.

13’ – SUB – Bad to worse for Holland, as van Lunteren stays down injured. She’s forced off, with the Dutch bringing on Dominique Janssen as her replacement.

13’ – On the resulting corner after the sub, Sinclair heads wide. Holland battling to survive at the moment.

17’ – Better from Holland. Martens posts up Belanger on the far side and spins through the full-back, even as she gets grabby. Her cutback is well read though, with Buchanan hoofing clear.

19’ – Holland knows who they’re going after. They try a long diagonal switch towards Martens on the far side, with Belanger missing her header. The forward thighs it down and tries to half-volley a shot in, but it’s well off-target.

21’ – Another great tackle by Buchanan, as Martens tries to thread a ball into van de Donk’s stride, but the center-back hooks it away expertly.

27’ – Belanger has her heels clipped by Miedema as she tries to dart forward with the ball. The Canadian full-back pantomimes a yellow card, drawing the ire of the countless mob who have preached the WWC as the paragon of sporting purity.

30’ – How big might that be? Melis makes a pulsating run from deep and has enough space to cross towards the penalty spot. Buchanan gets her slide all wrong, and the ball falls to van de Donk, whose woeful first touch pushes it right into McLeod’s arms. Wasteful.

36’ – Van de Donk crunches Kyle with a tackle and sets off on the counter attack. She tries to play a ball diagonally into Melis’ stride, but it dies a bit on the turf, letting Chapman sweep away.

38’ – Schmidt lofts a free kick in from the far side, and Geurts does well to punch the delivery free.

42’ – A diagonal ball from wide is dinked on first-time by Sinclair, setting Schmidt 1v1 against Geurts with Van den Berg struggling to defend. The keeper bobbles off her line but falls on it.

45’ – Martens burns Belanger and tries to go endline, but Buchanan dives in with a sliding tackle that puts the ball over for a corner. McLeod punches the corner away.

HT – The European side will probably be counting their blessings that they’re just down by one goal considering how poorly they began the match. Will Canada rue those missed opportunities? They have looked a little stretched at the back, with some great last ditch tackling from Kadeisha Buchanan bailing them out on multiple occasions in that half.
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NWSL – Round Twelve Fantasy Preview

I netted 118.50 points in round eleven and dropped to #4 overall? The hell is up with that? At any rate, I’m just 16.50 points behind #1 overall, so it’s not particularly worrisome at the moment.

What is worrisome? A slate of just four matches this week, involving just seven teams. With this week, double game rounds for teams kick in for almost the rest of the season, meaning you’ll probably be gambling on a lot of players that have two matches in a round.

Next week. Did I mention this round is worrisome? The second match for FC Kansas City, this round’s two game team, is on Thursday against Boston. Obviously, this is going to raise some serious questions as to whether FCKC’s USWNT players are going to suit up for the club. I suspect they’ll all be there, to sign autographs at the very least, but judging if they’ll even be available for the bench is a big question mark. While the likes of Heather O’Reilly and Amy Rodriguez, who have featured sparingly for the USWNT this month, are more likely to see major action, you may be forced to gamble with the likes of Lauren Holiday.

It’s a situation I’d best avoid if I can, but the problem is FCKC’s offensive options other than the USWNT’ers stink. Shea Groom has been reasonably productive but is a booking away from a one match ban, and if she picks that up in the first game of the round, her value plummets in comparison to some other options. Are you really going to trust Sarah Hagen at this point? The defense is a bit better, with Amy LePeilbet and/or Leigh Ann Robinson must plays, while Nicole Barnhart should be strong again in goal if Vlatko doesn’t pull the switcheroo with Katelyn Rowland as he did earlier this year.

Elsewhere, Chicago and Houston are on byes, which means no Sofia Huerta, Taryn Hemmings, Vanessa DiBernardo, Michele Dalton, Kealia Ohai, or Jessica McDonald. That’s painful just typing that considering how each have been fantasy studs thus far. I’d expect many to load up on Reign players, even on the road, while there’s some potential in the El Sackico between Portland and SBFC. Both sides should have their Canadian and Australian players back, so Christine Sinclair, Caitlin Foord, and Sam Kerr are options for the risk takers among us.

Finally, this is the final round of the third segment in the AWK Fantasy Group. After this round, we’ll be down to the Top 50 + Round Winners to this point.

GK

Barnhart (FCKC) – Been a bit boom or bust, but logic says you always take the goalkeeper with two matches.

Kopmeyer (SEA) – If you don’t believe in Barnhart, she’s a great option, even on the road.

Wys (WSH) – The Spirit finally kept a clean sheet against Houston, and FCKC’s attack has stunk thus far, so she’s not the worst option.

Betos (POR) – Good matchup, but we’ve got no clue how SBFC’s offense will do with Kerr and Foord back, so I’m wary.

Jones (WNY) – Clearly a less than desirable matchup against streaking Seattle, but averaging an insane 14.75 points.

Cameron (SBFC) – She’s been kept busy by an inept defense, but Portland’s offense has been just as inept at times. Picking her could be crazy or crazy like a fox.

Naeher (BOS) – Not holding my breath behind a defense that’s eroding again, but who knows which FCKC offense shows up?
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2015 Women’s World Cup – China vs New Zealand – Hard Luck Ferns Go Out After Contentious Draw

Starting Tactical Lineup (from FIFA.com)

Starting Tactical Lineup (from FIFA.com)

PRE – Pretty simple for New Zealand. They need to win to move on, with anything less not enough for the Ferns. A win probably wouldn’t guarantee their advancement, but it would make them close to a sure thing. The offense is going to have to break China down, something the likes of Canada and Holland have found difficult thus far. The Chinese side knows that the three points from the win against Holland has made their job much easier. A draw could be enough, with a win all the more better for their odds of potentially winning the group. China’s offense needs to spark to life though, as it was absent vs Canada and inefficient against Holland.

2’ – China with the early opportunity, with Lisi Wang playing it off of Abby Erceg for a corner. Lisi takes the corner, and Shanshan Wang comes up with a shot that Nayler tips wide for another corner. Guixin Ren heads it to goal, and Nayler should probably catch but slaps it away, letting the Ferns clear the danger.

6’ – Hassett thunders to the endline and plays a one-two with Riley, eventually winning a corner kick. Near post delivery bounces around a bit before being cleared.

13’ – New Zealand had been bossing possession and cutting out some half-chances, but China come back on the other end, with Peng Han floating a cross from the far side to the far post. Nayler is struggling, but the delivery is well wide of any red shirt in the box.

19’ – Hearn tries her luck from range but fires it wide. Ferns offense still struggling to ignite.

20’ – China attackers go into gegenpressing mode as Erceg passes to Hassett deep in the New Zealand end, with a triangle of passes hitting Wang Lisi in the box. She’s called for a foul as she jostles with the defenders trying to create space.

22’ – Hassett with a subtle pass across the face of the eighteen to Longo, who spots a gap in the China backline and tries to power through it. She goes down lightly by Dongna Li, and the ref waves play on, rightly. The Ferns win a corner a little bit later, but China clears.

25’ – Percival whips in a corner, but China make a hash of clearing it for a while. New Zealand can’t really do anything with it though, and China clears into touch.

25’ – Longo somehow darts through a few Chinese defenders who give up on the play thinking it’s going out for a goal kick. It doesn’t, with Longo last ditching a cross to the near post. Gregorius tries a jumping volley which is blocked by a group of defenders camped out in the six. Better.

27’ – GOAL – New Zealand (Stott) – Gregorius bursts down the line and whips a cross towards Wilkinson in the box, but Dongna Li clears with a leaping kick. On the resulting corner, Wilkinson makes marginal contact at the far post, doing enough to inadvertently knock it towards a lightly marked Stott standing near far edge of the six. She lasers a precise shot inside of the post and by the keeper and a defender.

33’ – Percival shields the ball away from Peng Han…but also wraps an arm around her waist afterward, gifting China a free kick from a dangerous area, about twenty-five yards out near the far edge of the area. Wang Lisi puts a charge into it, forcing Nayler to tip it over. She punches the corner, with her defense heading out right after.

40’ – PENALTY – China (Wang Lisi) – Shanshan Wang crosses from the far side towards Lisi Wang at the far post. She traps, cuts back and tries to shoot at goal but instead hits Betsy Hassett’s arms, which have flown up to protect her face (apparently). The referee calls for a handball penalty, but it’s decidedly wrong on the replay, as the ball hits Hassett’s chest before rolling up to her nose without ever hitting her arms. Wang Lisi crushes the spot kick middle-left to equalize. You don’t stop those.

43’ – Percival sends over a free kick from the far side, and for one of the first times this tournament, Wang Fei doesn’t cover herself in glory, coming out for it and not really getting there. The ball caroms to Jiali Tang, who does clear though. It’s pinballed back in seconds later, with Wang Fei again off her line and missing. New Zealand has an empty net, but they can’t get a clean look, with China clearing their lines. Nervy moments.

HT – New Zealand will feel very hard done by to go into the half even with a Chinese side they were outplaying for much of the first half. The penalty given was erroneous, and it’ll be interesting to see if that late hammer blow dispirits the Ferns or drives them on to the three points they need to stay alive.
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2015 Women’s World Cup – Norway vs Cote d’Ivoire – Norwegians Do Enough in Middling Win

Starting Tactical Lineup (from FIFA.com)

Starting Tactical Lineup (from FIFA.com)

PRE – Time for likely squash #2 of the day in Group B. The African side were likely gutted by their controversial defeat to Thailand and showed little to indicate they could spring a surprise against a powerhouse when losing to Germany. Barring a shocking upset, they’ll be on a flight home following this match. Norway needs to rack up a lot of goals, more than Germany in the other match by some margin, to advance as group winners. If they can’t turn it on early, they may get their best players off the pitch to rest them for the round of sixteen match.

5’ – After a nervous start, the African side nearly carve out a great chance. Nahi, who was a force against Thailand, cuts inside the area and delivers a cutback that Norway doesn’t clear. With two defenders overrunning it, Nrehy has a chance for an uncontested shot and does well, almost sneaking it inside the far post but failing to get it past the gloves of Hjelmseth.

6’ – GOAL – Norway (Hegerberg) – And that’s why you take your chances. Gulbrandsen lobs an attempted clearance up into orbit with it bouncing down off Haavi’s head in the box. There are two defenders on her but none on Ada Hegerberg, who the ball bounces to. She races endline and swings the ball around the keeper, Djohore, who guards her near post with movement so wooden you fear she’ll burst into flame at any second. Easily done for Norway.

8’ – Mykjaland has a free kick from twenty-five yards, straight onto goal, but she sends a low, bouncing shot that’s easily handled by Djohore.

11’ – The Ivorians have a decent shot to equalize off a free kick from just under thirty yards out. Fatou Coulibaly puts a nice bit of spin on the ball, sending it around the wall but just can’t get it on frame.

11’ – Coulibaly nearly goofs spectacularly at the other end, as she stops running for a Norwegian ball towards her keeper, expecting Djohore to come out and sweep. She doesn’t really, and Haavi almost runs it down before the keeper ushers it away.

14’ – Norway close to a second off another free kick. The captain, Coulibaly, inexplicably stands well behind the line of the rest of her defenders, meaning about half a dozen Norwegian players are onside. The ball flies over everyone and bounces right off of Djohore’s chest. They scramble away. that was odd.

16’ – Nahi turns through a challenge of a Norwegian defender and runs half the length of the field as her teammates struggle to keep up. She shoots from the edge of the area but has her shot blocked. Given her physical attributes, you wonder if Nahi could do a job for a middle tier team in Europe.

18’ – There’s just no communication between the backline and Djohore in goal. Another long ball nearly catches Cote d’Ivoire out again, as the keeper comes out to claim and nearly has Coulibaly head it down her throat.

23’ – Potential penalty shout for Cote d’Ivoire. Elloh takes the ball on the flank and flicks it past Minde, who goes shoulder-to-shoulder with her as they get to the box. The Ivorian goes to ground, but it was probably a bit soft in the end, with the no-call probably warranted.

25’ – YELLOW CARD – Cote d’Ivoire (F. Coulibaly) – They don’t get much more blatant than that. Coulibaly, who’s been seemingly involved in everything today, charges down Haavi at midfield and blows her up with a shoulderblock that sends the Norwegian flying.

26’ – Norway should really be up by two goals. A long ball for Haavi has Djohore coming off her line and getting nowhere near it. The Norwegian should finish with her head into an empty net but puts it impossibly wide.

27’ – Before the replays of the last chance are even finished, Hegerberg has a go from the edge of the area, forcing Djohore to put it behind for a corner. The keeper and Nahi end up on the ground in pain on the corner. Nahi went down after taking an elbow in the stomach from Thorisdottir. She went down rather theatrically, though why Djohore went down in pain is a mystery.

31’ – After a tussle near the endline, Cote d’Ivoire has a free kick in a very dangerous area, near the near edge of the box and the endline. Guehai stands over it and bends in an impressive effort, with Hjelmseth forced to palm over.

32’ – Another moment of indecision for Cote d’Ivoire in defense. Utland wins a header against the captain Coulibaly, and while Djohore looks like getting to the loose ball, Tchetche swoops in and takes it away. The disorganization is crazy.

36’ – Ivorian backline is all over the place. They manage to keep four Norwegians offside, but not Haavi charging from the left flank. Djohore charges out to try and block, but Haavi threads square to a wide open Hegerberg. She slips and puts it well wide, missing when it was easier to score.

37’ – Thorsnes chases a ball down on the right flank and swings over a cross that’s headed away. Only as far as Gulbrandsen though, who brings it down with a subtle touch before swinging over a half-volley that blazes over the bar. Would’ve been a goal of the tournament contender had it gone in.

40’ – Nahi, again. She is allowed time and space and turns into a shot from range around Skammelsrud Lund that Hjelmseth dives to save.

45’ – Norway close again to a second. Long ball to Hegerberg sees her hold off two defenders before backheeling to Utland who gets her finish wrong, putting it well over.

HT – Kind of like the other match in the group, though not to the same degree. Norway should really be up by more than a single goal right now but just haven’t been ruthless with their chances. Cote d’Ivoire have looked dangerous at times on the counter and have the power and some of the pace to hang with Norway at times, especially Nahi. At the same time though, the defense looks like an accident waiting to happen, and you’d have to be crazy to think Norway aren’t going to put more on the board going into the second half.
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W-League/WPSL: DC-area AmWoSo end of June update

Due to a combination of a bad cold followed by an ear infection along with spending lots of time watching the Women’s World Cup, I’ve scarcely posted any updates on how the DC-area amateur teams have been doing this summer. So this post is going to cover a lot of territory.

Washington Spirit Reserves

Following the previously reported disappointing 2-2 draw at home against the Atlanta Silverbacks, the Reserves got back on track with a 7-0 demolition of the Braddock Road Stars Elite, also at home.

They then faced the most challenging part of their season, with 3 away games in 4 days against the teams at the heart of the Southeastern Conference. That ended up more like Sherman marching through Georgia, with Washington notching wins in all 3 matches. On Friday, June 12, they downed the Charlotte Lady Eagles, 3-2, with 2 goals from Midge Purce and 1 from Imani Dorsey. On Saturday, Atlanta proved to be no obstacle with the Reserves getting 4 goals from 4 different players enroute to a 4-0 victory. The trip concluded with a 2-1 win on Monday over the Carolina Elite Cobras.
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