Well, here we are again, the end of another major women’s tournament, and time again for the AWK All-Curren Team. I call it that not out of a massive ego, but to indicate that it is indeed my choices and opinions. I point that out up front because for some reason choosing the best team from the Olympics was even tougher than the World Cup, even though there were fewer teams.
As with the World Cup, I sought to put together a real squad, one that could actually play (as opposed to starting nine forwards where we could score at will, but might end up playing Marta and Alex Morgan at outside back) a legitimate match.
And as always, feel free to put your choices in the Comments. Just remember, if you put someone in, someone has to come out and vice versa.
Among the players who barely missed the cut:
- Portia Modise (South Africa), who had the goal of the tournament, and was very active in midfield for South Africa, who had their moments. Not enough moments for her to make the 18, though.
- Renata Costa (Brazil) had a very good tournament defensively despite her team’s lack of organization.
- Ali Riley and Ria Percival (New Zealand) might have cancelled each other out, as the entire New Zealand defense, including Jenny Bindon and Katie Hoyle, had a great tournament.
- Two players who barely missed the cut at the World Cup did so again here in Louisa Necib (France), who got off to a good start, but held the ball a little too long in some key spots for my taste, and Yukari Kinga (Japan), who was just edged out.
- Lotta Schelin (Sweden), who probably suffered from a lack of support more than her failings.
- And, perhaps the last cut, Yuki Ogimi (Japan), who scored three times in the tournament, including in the final, but in a tournament loaded with attacking players, we just couldn’t find a spot for her this time around. Next time.
So without further ado, here’s the squad:
OFF THE BENCH
Miho Fukomoto (Japan) – Interestingly, Ayuma Kaihori was my starter at the World Cup, so I thought Norio Sasaki was nuts to start Fukomoto, but she was very good. What strikes you most about Fukumoto is her composure, something sorely lacking in many keepers at this Olympics (and the World Cup).
Nilla Fischer (Sweden) – She quietly had a fantastic tournament, not only scoring goals, but winning plenty of balls in the midfield for the Swedes and running the show. She won’t get the plaudits of some others possibly, but I thought she was Sweden’s best player.
Laura Georges (France) – She didn’t even start the first game at the Olympics (against the United States), one of a few curious decisions by Bruno Bini, but she not only scored a huge goal, but was fantastic in the back, making few mistakes. With a break or two, France could have been sitting in the final. Alas, they didn’t get many breaks this time around.
Stephanie Houghton (Great Britain) – Just can’t leave someone who scored three times from a left back spot off this team, can we? Houghton was also solid in the back for a British squad that did not allow a goal in the group stages before being unceremoniously dumped by Canada in the quarterfinals.
Kim Little (Great Britain) – Maybe the best true attacking midfielder at the Olympics, she was key to just about everything the British did offensively. And while fellow Scot Julie Fleeting decided to sit out, Kim Little shined. Hopefully, Scotland isn’t too offended.
Marta (Brazil) – Nice to have Marta coming off the bench, right? She showed flashes of the player who we saw in the last few major tournaments, but for whatever reason, when Brazil needed goals most, she just couldn’t come through this time. Still pretty good, though.
Alex Morgan (United States) – Another great bench option, and this is not to say Morgan wasn’t good (she’s on the team, isn’t she?), it’s just that with the attacking options we have, we’ll just unleash her at about the hour mark. Hmmm, that sounds vaguely familiar.
(we’re sticking with the 4-2-3-1, but we’re mixing it up a little)
Hope Solo (United States) – Don’t have to spend too much time explaining this one, except the level of play she showed in the final probably helped her sell more than a couple of books. I might even have to read it. We shall see.
Alex Scott (Great Britain) – She certainly didn’t lose anything from the last time we saw her in the WPS, as she was not only a fantastic defender, but got up and down the right wing at will to help the British attack. It’s a shame how Great Britain went out, but such is life, I guess.
Sonia Bompastor (France) – Just as she was at the World Cup (and before), she just does her job and does it well. France probably would have liked Bompastor to get forward a little more than she did, but there were very few mistakes coming from her position.
Saki Kumagai (Japan) – She didn’t have a great first half in the final against the U.S., but I still think she might be the best center back in the world right now. She’s only 21, she’ll have plenty of time to prove me wrong or right in the next few years.
Rebecca Smith (New Zealand) – Another American born Fern, Smith has played a lot of professional games in Germany and showed it in this Olympics, not only scoring perhaps their biggest goal, but leading a defense that was rarely exposed, even against the mighty Americans.
Desiree Scott (Canada) – She was Canada’s best player when I saw them against Brazil in a friendly back in March, and while she probably didn’t have that honor at the Olympics, she did enough to start for my squad. Also consider just three days after what looked like a hideous injury against the U.S., Scott went 90 minutes as Canada kept a clean sheet as her team captured bronze.
Carli Lloyd (United States) – Like Georges, she didn’t start that France-U.S. opener, but certainly made the most of her opportunity. It’s really amazing what confidence can go, once Lloyd scored that first goal against France, she was darn near unstoppable, as Japan found out the hard way in the final.
Christine Sinclair (Canada) – Not her natural spot, I know, but she did a heck of a job passing the ball prior to her hat trick against the U.S. in the semifinal. It was pretty humorous to see a lot of the media “discovering” Sinclair for the first time, including some here in the States, but we certainly knew better, didn’t we?
Melissa Tancredi (Canada) – I’m far from condoning some of what she did against the United States in the semifinal, but she was awesome in this tournament, really the biggest key to what Canada did, not only with her scoring, but her passing as well. We knew what Sinclair could do, but without Tancredi, Canada would not have won the bronze medal.
Megan Rapinoe (United States) – She probably could make the tournament with the game against Canada alone, but her service and skill on the ball was one of the big reasons the U.S. went from a team that was behind a few in skill at the World Cup to one who was deserved winners at the Olympics a year later. Not to mention how fun it is to watch her play.
Abby Wambach (United States) – We’re just about out of accolades for Abby, too, aren’t we? I still remember, though, how much class Wambach showed in defeat last year against Japan, too. She channeled that disappointment into what you saw at the Olympics, as she was and is still one of the best at what she does, and the numbers – in this case, at least – don’t lie.
- That’s that. Until next time, thanks for reading.