Monthly Archives: June 2015

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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2015 Women’s World Cup – Germany vs Thailand – Woeful German Finishing Not Hidden By Lopsided Stats

Starting Tactical Lineup (from FIFA.com)

Starting Tactical Lineup (from FIFA.com)

PRE – The watchword in this one might be ‘bloodbath’, as Germany will likely be most displeased with their draw with Norway in the match before. Goal differential means they’re likely to win the group anyway as long as they beat Thailand, and the extensive squad rotation reflects that. For their part, the Asian side knows they have a faint prayer of qualifying if a lot of results roll their way. It’ll help to not get pasted here though.

3’ – As you might expect, Thailand is having trouble getting out of their own end, and Behringer has the first big opportunity of the match, whipping a shot from the edge of the area that Boonsing has to get a set of hands to, pushing it behind for a corner. Thailand are forced to clear off the line from a corner and naively try to play their way out of danger. The Asian side are rescued by the whistle for a foul as it appeared they were about to concede possession in the box.

5’ – Germany breaks at pace, and a seeing eye ball from Lena Lotzen through the Thai backline almost finds Daebritz, but it just eludes her stride.

10’ – Half-chances galore for Germany, but Thailand’s surviving for now. As I type that, a Schmidt cross finds a completely unmarked Daebritz at the far side of the box eight-yards out. She tattoos a volley wide.

12’ – Cramer makes an endline run and has a cross blocked, while seconds later, Behringer fires a tame shot from range that Boonsing holds low. Those day-glo orange/red kits for Germany are killing my efforts at identifying players.

16’ – Leupolz fires a dipping volley from range into the arms of Boonsing. Lots of probing and half-chances, but the Germans still looking for that killer touch in front of goal.

18’ – Cramer whips a cross in, and Boonsing punches wide to the other flank.

20’ – Thailand should really be ahead. Krahn turns it over at the halfway line under no real pressure, letting Sung-Ngoen in with a clear path to goal. Instead of keeping going and shooting, she decides to hold it up. It’s inexplicable, and lets the two German center-backs double up on her in the box, with none of her teammates within a mile. Her shot is blocked out for a corner. Sung-Ngoen puts a shot well over after the corner drops to her.

22’ – Daebritz plays a nice pass into the box for Sasic, who posts up her defender before spinning. Her shot is an easily held effort for Boonsing though.

24’ – GOAL – Germany (Leupolz) – Resistance broken. Finally. Corner kick swings out to eight yards, where a looping header from Leupolz goes far post and drops just under the bar and over the line. DiCicco mentions the shadows on the field disturbing the keeper’s vision, but honestly, most keepers would struggle to keep a ball placed that perfectly out.

27’ – Marozsan puts a header well wide of goal. The German attack has been lethargic for much of this one.

29’ – The referees get an offside decision comically wrong. Marozsan is at least three body lengths onside for a long ball forward and should have had a 1v1 against Boonsing.

35’ – Leupolz with another looping header off a corner, but this one’s more to the center of goal, allowing Boonsing to extend and leap to claim.

37’ – Sasic does magnificently to flick the ball over a defender after a turnover and hits a bouncing ball on the half-volley at the edge of the area. It’s right to Boonsing though, as Germany’s pedestrian finishing continues.

41’ – Behringer hoofs a delivery in that Marozsan flick heads onto goal, but Boonsing manages to make an easy save.

43’ – Sasic heads a cross from Schmidt over the ball. It’s a cavalcade of uninspired finishing.

45’ – How do they keep missing? Lotzen strips Srangthaisong at the sideline and springs the counter to Marozsan, who takes it past a pair of defenders whose attempted tackles don’t go to plan. 1v1 vs Boonsing, Marozsan fires right at the keeper.

45’ + 1’ – Behringer whacks a free kick into the wall, with the ball deflecting behind with the last kick of the half.

HT – There’s no reason Germany shouldn’t be up by three or four goals right now. They’ve carved out more than enough chances to add to their lead but have been victims of a terrible wasteful afternoon of finishing, making life far too easy on Boonsing, who has still played fairly well for Thailand. Can the Asian side hold out, or will their goal differential be wrecked after the break? You can’t expect Silvia Neid to have been happy with the first half display…
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USWNT (Sort Of) – Let’s Pick A Hypothetical Pan-American Games Squad

So one of the million things that irks me about U.S. Soccer is the continued refusal to send a team to the Pan-American Games, even if it’s a glorified U23 team. That’s what Canada’s doing this time around, with a combination of fringe players and some of the younger names that made the WWC roster this year. I’m guessing it’ll help with the development of the program as a whole, even if Canada doesn’t come away with the title.

So what if the U.S. did likewise? I’m not going to entertain the notion that NWSL teams would be tortured even further this year with more player losses, so I’m going with a full college team. The eighteen player limit certainly made it tough…

GK (2) – Jane Campbell (Stanford), Cassie Miller (Florida State)
DEF (6) – Maddie Bauer (Stanford), Kayla Mills (USC), Carson Pickett (Florida State), Cari Roccaro (Notre Dame), Jessie Scarpa (North Carolina), Emily Sonnett (Virginia)
MF (5) – Michaela Hahn (Florida State), Rose Lavelle (Wisconsin), Ashley Meier (Virginia Tech), Mallory Pugh (UCLA), Andi Sullivan (Stanford)
FW (5) – Makenzy Doniak (Virginia), Savannah Jordan (Florida), McKenzie Meehan (Boston College), Murielle Tiernan (Virginia Tech), Cheyna Williams (Florida State)

My First XI: Campbell; Pickett, Roccaro, Sonnett, Mills; Sullivan, Lavelle, Pugh; Meehan, Doniak, Williams

Thoughts? Good? Awful? Your picks?

2015 Women’s World Cup – Costa Rica vs South Korea – Subs Turn Tide For Both Sides

Starting Tactical Lineup (from FIFA.com)

Starting Tactical Lineup (from FIFA.com)

PRE – With Brazil having won two-from-two, it’s now a mad scramble for second, with both of these sides knowing a win here will give them an edge going into the final day. The impetus is greater on South Korea, who still have to face those Brazilians. But the Asian side also knows that they can take nothing for granted with a tricky Spain coming up. They’ll need to improve greatly upon their performance against Brazil, where some suicidal defending cost them dearly.

2’ – South Korea with the match’s first chance, as she beats Lixy Rodriguez to the endline, with her cross being half-cleared. Yoo manages to get the rebound, turns, and shoots, but right at Diaz, who clutches safely.

5’ – Costa Rica a little wobbly early, as Carol Sanchez misses her header on a long ball forward, letting Ji So-Yun nearly get onto it. Diaz off her line to grab though.

6’ – Diaz saved Costa Rica early, but she almost coughs one up there, as Ji takes a tame shot that she should catch but spills. Her defenders screen off attackers though, allowing her to catch.

7’ – The Costa Rica backline is all over the place, and Diaz has to come out a long way to sweep away from Yoo.

8’ – The siege on the Costa Rican goal continues, as Kang gets endline and crosses. Ji (?) basically runs into the ball on a late rush into the box, and Costa Rica clear. Replay shows Carol Sanchez spiked Ji in the knee with a late boot. Penalty shout?

12’ – Close for Costa Rica, as Raquel Rodriguez shimmies on the ball a little and misses the goal by a whisker on a long-range effort.

13’ – It’s all-action at the moment, as Kwon’s swerving, dipping shot from the edge of the area is desperately tipped over by Diaz.

17’ – GOAL – Costa Rica (Herrera) – Bizarre goal for the Central American side! Free kick by Alvarado at the midfield stripe is allowed to bounce in the box and is dinked by Herrera over the charging Kim Jungmi. South Korea clear but not before it clearly crosses the line.

20’ – PENALTY – South Korea (Ji) – More follies in the area. A chip in the area causes chaos in the box, with the ball eventually bouncing to Yoo. Granados (!) is all the way back to defend, and she’s hard done by, as the forward makes an absolute meal out of minimal contact. Ji sends Diaz the wrong way to equalize.

22’ – Yoo almost gives South Korea another goal, as she fires from the edge of the area, forcing Diaz into another save. Carol Sanchez, who’s had a nightmare early, tripped on the play, giving up the chance.

22’ – Granados goes down under contact from Lee Eunmi, but it wasn’t particularly meaningful contact, with the referee agreeing and waving play on.

24’ – It’s non-stop offense at the moment, as Yoo targets a header at goal, but Diaz catches firmly. There are more goals to be had.

25’ – GOAL – South Korea (Jeon) – See what I mean? Hyeri goes on an underlapping run, with Kang giving it to the full-back. She crosses first-time, and it’s a fine one, with Jeon Gaeul darting in to whip a header across the face of goal. Fabulous team goal. Carol Sanchez was the defender beaten in the air. She’s been woeful thus far.

31’ – South Korean move breaks down, and Costa Rica counter the other way through Saenz. She plays a nice ball through to Granados, but she’s shouldered off the ball by Shim. Fans not pleased.

35’ – Carol Sanchez is just useless in the air, as she mistimes another header in the box off a chip from Cho. Ji looks to get on it, but Costa Rica hoof clear eventually.

43’ – Right off the training ground for South Korea, as Lee Eunmi runs over the ball before getting the short pass out wide. Lee tries to shoot from a really sharp angle, and it goes well wide.

44’ – Yoo sweeps Cruz’s legs out from under her. It’s probably Cruz’s biggest contribution in a rather silent half. South Korea clears from the scrum in the box on the delivery.

45’ + 1’ – Well, there’s another contribution. Cruz gets fouled, gets up and lightly shoves the miscreant. It’s all much ado about nothing, and the teams go into the tunnel for the half.

HT – An exciting, if not a bit chaotic half of football, as both sides are plowing forward with abandon. The defending hasn’t been that impressive for either side, but neither of these teams really has a true superstar #9 to take advantage. More of the same in the second half, please, including another goal or two.
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2015 Women’s World Cup – Brazil vs Spain – Lack of Cutting Edge Dooms Spanish Against Solid Brazil

Starting Tactical Lineup (from FIFA.com)

Starting Tactical Lineup (from FIFA.com)

PRE – It’s a crossroads game for these two teams in Group E. Brazil will know that a win here would all but assure them of the group win with Costa Rica to play on the final day. They pounced on South Korean mistakes in the opener but will probably be looking for a little more here. Spain know that getting something out of this one will be crucial after the disappointing draw with Costa Rica in the opener. Defeat here would leave them in a must win against South Korea on the final day. All eyes will be on Marta vs Vero, but it might be the defenses which ultimately decide a winner here.

1’ – Fashion police update: Brazil are wearing a blue and white gradient shirt. Blech. Too nineties.

2’ – Fabiana picks up right where she left off in the last match, surging down the near touchline and winning a foul off of Landa.

7’ – First real chance falls to Spain. Putellas hoofs a long ball over the Brazilian backline, letting Pablos run onto it. She has the beating of Monica by some distance and is 1v1 against Luciana but screws her low shot wide.

8’ – Marta doing Marta things, as she latches onto a backheel before blasting past Torrejon out wide. Cross is too deep though, letting Tirapu claim.

11’ – The other Marta, Marta Corredera, is also making an impact early, as her cross dances just a bit ahead of Pablos, letting Luciana fall on it.

13’ – It’s end-to-end. Corredera whips a cross in, with Monica missing her header, and Rafaelle stabbing a foot out that deflects it behind for a corner. Almost an own goal. Brazil clear a pair of corners.

24’ – YELLOW CARD – Spain (Landa) – OK, it’s not so end-to-end now. Landa is booked for sliding in on Marta. She got the ball but also took a big chunk out of the Brazilian superstar.

29’ – Corredera already causing problems, as she’s brilliantly quick with the ball at her feet, getting endline before crossing to Losada. It may not have been the best option though, as the former WNY Flash player is triple teamed, with Brazil clearing.

37’ – Formiga is a goddamn machine out there. She dispossesses Jimenez on the far sideline before playing a long ball ahead of Cristiane, who shucks off Paredes before Torrejon puts a desperate foot in to knock it behind for a corner. Tirapu catches the corner with ease.

41’ – Formiga again. She drops a long ball over the backline into the box that is allowed to bounce as Tirapu hesitates off her line a bit. She misses it completely on her way out and is very, very lucky that Tamires fell. Corner kick for Brazil. Putellas heads away easily.

43’ – Tamires breaks a play up on her way to the endline and sends a cross towards Andressa Alves at the penalty spot, but she’d have to be ten feet tall to get to that one. They get a corner out of it, but Tirapu punches behind for another corner. The keeper comes out again after it’s crossed in, making an effective flying punch.

44’ – GOAL – Brazil (Andressa Alves) – Brazil finally makes their pressure count. Long chip over the top towards Alves, who pokes it past Tirapu, who came a long, long way to get not a touch on the ball. Jimenez does a great job to slide and hook it off the line…which matters naught, as it rolls right to Alves who scores. Probably would’ve helped if some of the other Spanish defenders had marked up on Alves after the initial poke.

HT – Brazil get a late arrow to the heart with that goal, and it’ll be interesting to see how Spain react out of the break. They had put together a handful of half-chances, but it’s tough remembering them forcing Luciana into a big save. For their part, Brazil haven’t exactly been dynamic and explosive, but they do have a 1-0 lead.
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2015 Women’s World Cup – England vs Mexico – Tale of Two Teams’ Subs as England Prevail

Starting Tactical Lineup (from FIFA.com)

Starting Tactical Lineup (from FIFA.com)

PRE – The pressure on Mexico has been ramped up by that shock win by Colombia, with Leo Cuellar’s team needing to really get something out of this to stand a sliver of a chance of advancing. Considering France is likely to be hopping mad after that loss, Mexico probably needs three points here to stand a great chance of advancing. One wonders what England’s mentality will be after a brutally disappointing loss to France in the opener. They need to go more attacking against a lesser opponent and the look of things here seems to reflect that.

2’ – Mexico showing signs of offensive life early, as Robles takes off on a long run on the counter after an interception and has a shot blocked by Bassett. Robles flew down the pitch with the ball at her feet.

3’ – You can’t accuse Mexico of not knowing who to target defensively. Sierra goes in late to knock Kirby to the turf, earning England a free kick near midfield. Bronze has to chase down the errant delivery, but not much comes of it on the whole.

8’ – Mexico win a corner on the far side, and it eventually comes out to Veronica Perez at the edge of the area. She tries a leaping volley but puts it onto the roof of the net.

9’ – Jill Scott clanks a touch in her own end, letting Mayor swoop in. Corral gets doubled up after a throw-in, with Kirby coming all the way back to help clear the danger.

14’ – Mexico are showing definite signs of life on offense early. A free kick into the box has Bardsley briefly caught in two minds, but she gets back to her line in time before any real damage is done. The ball ends up at the edge of the area, where some slack marking allows Corral to hit an awkward half-volley well off-target.

14’ – Jill Scott’s having a nightmare early on, as she has another square ball picked off, with Rangel taking off and passing off to Cuellar. Cuellar wastes the move by launching a ridiculous shot from range that goes a mile wide of the post. She’s not helping her cause here.

18’ – Ocampo sends a tricky half-volley that forces Bardsley to stand on her goalline, leap and catch. Mexico the much brighter side in the early part of this one.

19’ – As I say that, of course, Aluko latches onto a long ball and goes off on a run at the far sideline, using a burst to escape from Ruiz and Robles long enough to deliver a shot or a cross to the near post. Santiago claims with no problem.

19’ – It’s Mexico’s turn to play some shaky defense, as Veronica Perez coughs it up in her own end, letting Jade Moore steal in and try to set up Aluko, though Ruiz shields her off to get the goal kick.

22’ – Great move by England. Bronze flicks over Sierra and outmuscles the defender before passing to Scott in the area. She shuttles to a wide open Fran Kirby, but her shot is tame and easily handled by Santiago.

26’ – Corral puts a shot high after teasing Houghton on the left edge of the box. Mexico really needs her to step up if they’re to win.

30’ – Aluko crosses into the box, where Kirby and Jill Scott both whiff comically. Duggan barely makes contact with a bicycle kick attempt, and Mexico clear, though not before the ball appeared to hit Robles’ hand in the box. Aluko gets it back a little later and passes off to Kirby who whips a shot right into Santiago’s chest.

33’ – Duggan lets loose with a dipping shot from outside of the area, but Santiago goes down to claim. Momentum has seemingly turned after Mexico enjoying the first quarter of an hour.

34’ – You can really see the confidence growing in the English attackers. Fara Williams sports Santiago off her line and tries to chip Santiago from about forty yards and nearly makes it happen, with the ball just skimming the top of the net.

42’ – Ocampo fouls Bronze on the near side in the final third, letting England swing in a potentially dangerous free kick. It’s cleared away with little difficulty.

44’ – Aluko’s been a terror for England thus far, getting wide on the left flank and cutting inside before ripping off a shot from the edge of the area that rises and drops onto the bar before going behind. Mexico having a major wobble before the end of the half.

HT – It’s not exactly been a thriller. Mexico showed some promise early but faded noticeably after the first quarter of an hour as England began to get a foothold on the match. For their part though, the European side have shown little quality in the area despite carving out a handful of chances for themselves. Eniola Aluko has perhaps looked most dangerous for the English, but Santiago hasn’t been forced into anything more than rudimentary saves. Both sides know they need much more to lock up the three points coming out of this one.
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NWSL – Round Eleven Fantasy Preview

“No, you idiot, don’t pick a captain and vice-captain from the same match!”
-My message to past me before picking last round’s team

If you don’t learn something new every day, you’re probably not going to get very far in either life or NWSL Fantasy, and I learned a pretty hard lesson last round. Thinking I had outsmarted everyone once again by picking Sofia Huerta and Crystal Dunn as captain and vice-captain respectively, I went into last round hopeful of finally climbing up from third place overall. Of course, weather played a rather evil role in the end, and everyone was left scrambling for their bench options once Washington and Chicago was postponed based on weather.

It could’ve been much worse in the end. Having Ellie Brush and Kealia Ohai on the bench really bailed me out with the Dash putting up a good showing last round, and I’m still in third overall as we approach the close of the WWC. Enjoy it while it lasts, as the game changes decisively in a few rounds when the WNT players (presumably) return. “Captain Crystal Dunn” won’t be such a slam dunk strategy, while other players like Sofia Huerta figure to lose most of their value with the return of teams’ star players.

This time out, I’d expect most people to hammer Chicago against woeful Sky Blue FC, even if the Red Stars are on the road. Betting on Washington and Boston at home also will be a strategy I expect many will chase, while Seattle-FCKC looks like the requisite toss-up match this round.

GK

Dalton (CHI) – Will be in everyone’s team, so might not be the player to tap if you need to gain ground, but she’s got the best matchup by far.

Kranich (BOS) – Flash attack is hit or miss to the extreme, but you have to believe that the Breakers will be solid favorites at home.

Kopmeyer (SEA) – FCKC is offensively challenged to put it mildly, and she’s putting up gonzo numbers at 11.2 PPM, so she might be worth a look.

Wys (WSH) – Will be favored for a win, but defense still a question mark.

Jones (WNY) – High risk, high reward. She’s averaging big numbers but is on an inconsistent team with a shaky matchup.

Henninger (HOU) – She’s put up some big numbers at times this year, and the defense has gotten much better with Brush and Camilla in the lineup. But Washington away is never an easy matchup.

Barnhart (FCKC) – Hard to trust given the matchup and shoddy offense she has playing in front of her.

Cameron (SBFC) – Just say no.
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2015 Women’s World Cup – Colombia vs France – French Inexplicably Abandon Flanks, Settle For Long Shots in Shock Defeat

Starting Tactical Lineup (from FIFA.com)

Starting Tactical Lineup (from FIFA.com)

PRE – OK, I’m not particularly looking forward to this one on paper. Colombia played out a nearly unwatchable draw with Mexico marred by constant fouling and horrific officiating. France were superior against an ambitionless England but had but a single goal to show for their dominance. They shouldn’t be tested by the South Americans, but who knows what to expect after that dire offensive showing against England? They’ll need three points to keep on track for the group win though.

5’ – France’s offense is stuttering early, but they get a half-chance when Necib springs Boulleau out wide. The full-back tries a cross deep in the box, but Colombia blocks well and ushers it out.

7’ – As I’m about to type “this is not how you break down a bunker, France”, they get with the program. Andrade is too lackadaisical on the ball, allowing Houara to step and play a one-two with Le Sommer that releases the right-back down the flank. Her cross is headed clear but only to Bussaglia, who hits a rather pitiful shot that is allowed to roll behind for a goal kick.

9’ – With seemingly a clear path towards a chip to Thiney, Le Sommer fluffs it, letting Velasquez half-clear. She can only get it as far as Bussaglia though, with the midfielder playing Necib into space. Instead of cutting it back at the endline though, she takes a shot from an impossible angle to win a corner. They play it short, and the delivery gets blocked out for a throw. Wasteful.

11’ – Boulleau one-touches a pass to Thiney, who slips on a cutback but manages to get up long enough to prod to Necib, who skitters a shot just wide of the post.

14’ – Necib chips in a gorgeous ball looking for the run of Le Sommer, but Sepulveda is quick off her line to grab the bouncing ball. France poking around for an opener here.

16’ – Simple but decently effective for France, as Abily hits Dali out wide with a low pass. Dali crosses into the area, but it’s apparently off of Necib for a goal kick.

18’ – Bizarre moment from France, as Georges juggles a ball onto her elbow, giving Colombia a free kick near midfield. Like much of what Colombia’s attempted offensively thus far, it amounts to nothing.

19’ – From the bizarre to the really bizarre. Necib, for some reason La Sulk, all of a sudden, tosses a throw-in at the feet of Houara with one hand, showing no shortage of contempt. Colombia argue successfully that that was an illegal throw.

19’ – GOAL – Colombia (Andrade) – Unbelievable! Colombia’s first sustained possession in ages, and they score. Rincon gets it after Colombia fends off a few challenges, and France stands off the playmaker. She turns and plays an inch-perfect ball through the backline to Andrade, who beats Houara and shoots first-time under Bouhaddi and inside the right post. Wow.

22’ – Renard plays a brilliant long ball down the left flank for the run of Boulleau, but Carolina Arias does well to slide and block for a corner. Sepulveda catches with little problem.

25’ – Pressure still on, as France tries to hit back with a quick equalizer. A Necib corner is played short, and Boulleau’s cross is juggled initially by Sepulveda but fallen upon.

25’ – Colombia growing more conifdent. Rincon threads a ball over the top to Ospina, who cuts back and threads a beautiful ball to Vidal at the edge of the area. She tries to split two defenders, falls theatrically, and sees the ball cleared away.

30’ – France are doing a job between the eighteens, but their execution in the box has been shocking thus far. Houara delivers a cross from the near side that has Sepulveda struggling, but Carolina Arias heads behind. Le Sommer was wide open in the box, and she lets Houara know about it. Renard times her header well but heads it into the turf and wide.

37’ – When France moves the ball, they move it really well. Bussaglia gets it from Dali and plays a gorgeous diagonal ball over the top to Boulleau. The left-back rifles a shot into the side netting. Le Sommer’s body language screams “get me the damn ball”, as she holds her hands up in frustration again. Colombia’s gotta get more pressure on those midfield switches though.

40’ – Le Sommer turns on the jets, chesting down a pass from Abily and accelerating past Montoya and Clavijo to the endline, but her control fails her, as the ball goes out harmlessly for a goal kick.

42’ – Le Sommer continues to cause havoc in the Colombia defense. Abily plays a slow diagonal ball into Le Sommer’s stride, and she hops over the tackle of Carolina Arias before forcing Sepulveda to palm a shot over the bar.

43’ – Oof, what is Sepulveda doing? On the corner, she charges out to get the ball and is nowhere close. She’s stranded, and France really should score if a cross to Le Sommer at the far post is accurate, but forces the forward to awkwardly come back for a header, with Colombia clearing right after.

43’ – Andrade humiliates Bussaglia with some slick ball skills, seconds after Monotya had flicked past an irritated Necib. They double her up, but Colombia’s definitely showing some nice skill on the ball.

HT – France go in behind thanks to a great goal from Lady Andrade. They’ve been the better side, save for in the box, where their finishing has been woeful and hasn’t forced Seuplveda into anything more than rudimentary saves. You still fancy them to come out on top, but they hardly look like title contenders on this evidence.
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2015 Women’s World Cup – Japan vs Cameroon – Ruthless Japan Edge Past Spirited Cameroon

Starting Tactical Lineup (from FIFA.com)

Starting Tactical Lineup (from FIFA.com)

PRE – Welcome to one of the most interesting group stage clashes in this tournament. It didn’t look that way on paper coming into the tournament, but Cameroon’s showing against Ecuador has piqued interests, even if the South American side have shown themselves to be the furthest thing from contenders. Japan were solid in their opening win against Switzerland despite not really impressing. The holders will know that anything but a convincing three points here might raise more questions ahead of further challenges.

4’ – My eyes are already weeping at trying to figure out numbers on Japan’s pink numbers on neon yellow shirt scheme. Off a corner, Utsugi has a hard shot blocked.

6’ – GOAL – Japan (Sameshima) – Japan scores a quite brilliant team goal. After a bit of pinging it around at the far sideline, Naho crosses into the box, where Ogimi side heels it to an unmarked Sameshima on the far post. Two marking Ogimi, none marking Sameshima. Seems like a problem.

7’ – Japan have clearly read the playbook, as they swarm Enganamouit as she gets the ball a handful of yards from the box. She passes back for Feudjio, who shoots on the run, sending a piledriver just wide of Kaihori’s goal. Tremendous hit.

12’ – Japan continue to probe as Cameroon defend decently, but the African side having problems keeping possession thus far.

14’ – Cameroon have a chance, as they intercept in midfield and quickly hoof it towards the frontrunners who have the Japanese backline beaten for pace. Ngono Mani crosses to the far post, but it’s away from any green shirts. Onguene collects and fires back in, but Kaihori collects at the near post.

17’ – GOAL – Japan (Sugasawa) – Cameroon in real trouble now, as they come unstuck on a corner kick. Miyama gets it back after a short attempt and crosses to the far post at the goal line. Four Japanese players are held onside by Leuko on the six-yard line. That includes Sugasawa, who jumps highest over Ngo Ndom to thump a header home.

22’ – Cameroon’s attack is rudimentary, but it’s still proving very hard to deal with for Japan. A turnover in midfield enables a long ball to Enganamouit, who easily easily outpaces the Japanese defense. Japan cuts off the angle though, forcing her into a tight angle shot that’s blocked by Kaihori.

25’ – Enganamouit again at the center of Cameroon’s attack as she receives and spins at midfield. The forward plants a stiff arm onto Utsugi to gain space, hops over her tackle, and wins a corner off Sameshima. Great individual effort. Kaihori catches the corner with no difficulty.

27’ – Cameroon have to defend another Miyama free kick. The midfielder swings it over, and Ngo Ndom bats it away when she really should catch, but there aren’t any Japanese players waiting to pounce.

28’ – Oh, the shot selection. Ngono Mani drops into midfield and threads a beautiful ball to Onguene, who races past the Japanese defense towards the endline but decides to take a shot towards the far post instead of trying to cut back to a wide open Enganamouit. The effort goes well wide.

29’ – Cameroon are direct, brutally so, but it’s working, as another ball drops to Onguene near the endline, but she puts her cross behind for a goal kick.

29’ – Utsugi’s looking a little dodgy at right-back, as she clangs a backpass in bizarre fashion, giving it right back to Onguene who passes back to Enganamouit who makes a selfish decision to rocket it into the stands.

33’ – Onguene wins a corner despite being double marked, and Enganamouit rises high for a header on the delivery. It’s soft and right to Kaihori though.

41’ – Cameroon so nearly halve the deficit. Onguene takes a pass in midfield and is off to the races, picking out Enganamouit despite being fronted by roughly half the Japanese team. She powers through a tackle and somehow picks out Ngono Mani right above the six and open for a shot…which she screws wide. Gotta think Cameroon isn’t going to get many better chances than that.

43’ – YELLOW CARD – Cameroon (Ngo Mbeleck) – The Cameroonian attacking midfielder is booked for persistent infringement after ripping Utsugi down.

HT – Perhaps the two goal lead flatters Japan, who haven’t been tremendous offensively but have made the most of their limited opportunities, with some help from some Cameroonian breakdowns in the box. The story has been more about their team defending, which has been excellent at swarming the frontrunners from the African side and forcing them into low-percentage looks. Still, Cameroon’s big names have looked dangerous when able to get some space, so this one certainly isn’t done and dusted yet.
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