The All-Curren Team: Picking The Best 18 From The World Cup

Well, I promised you people I’d have an All-Tournament team for the Women’s World Cup, and after a week of stalling (and working with the future soccer players of America in 100-degree heat), here you go.

But to do it the right way, I need to make an actual team. It’s easy (at least, easier) to give you a list of players, harder to pick the best at each position, and who I might want to use off the bench if I had to win a game (of course, I think I’ll do OK with this team no matter what 11 I choose).

Among the players that didn’t make the cut:

  • Genoveva Anonman of Equatorial Guinea, who was flashy, but kept the ball a little too much for our team.
  • Yukari Kinga (Japan), Sara Thunebro (Sweden), and Ali Krieger (USA), outside backs who had good tournaments.
  • Lisa DeVanna (Australia) who was a giant pain for opposing defenses
  • Louisa Necib (France) who might have had the best ball-skills in the World Cup, but didn’t quite create enough to crack my top 18.
  • And perhaps the final cut, Aya Miyama of Japan.

Obviously, you could make a case for any of those players and I wouldn’t argue with you. Well, a little.

But here’s my squad:

OFF THE BENCH

Hope Solo (USA) – Probably would have been the starter until the final game when she was outshined and had her job taken away. Still good enough tournament to make the team, though.

Kelly Smith (England) – Might be a slightly controversial selection, but the fact that she was hobbling around for most of the extra time against France in the quarterfinals and was still their most creative player speaks volumes to how important she was to her squad, and they did come within penalty kicks of making the semifinals, after all.

Gaetane Thiney (France) – She beats out Necib in my mind because she’s a little more of a threat going forward with pace and finishing ability. But it is very, very close.

Lotta Schelin (Sweden) – Was close to unstoppable at the end of the tournament, and if it weren’t for a certain header by an American against Brazil, she’d get the starting nod on my team.

Caitlin Foord (Australia) – Just a fireball running up and down the wings for the Aussies and someone I can stick at outside back if I need to, and she’ll run all day. Fearless as well, she doesn’t turn 17 until November. A little more skill, and she’ll be one of the best players in the world.

Rita Chekwelu (Nigeria) – Every team needs a good destroying midfielder, and Chekwelu was probably the best in the competition in that spot. Unfortunately, she was overshadowed by other things in the Nigerian team and the fact that they were out quickly, but she was outstanding.

Saskia Bartusiak (Germany) – We need a backup center back, and it was rather slim pickings at the World Cup. But Bartusiak was solid, and Germany didn’t allow too many goals despite being eliminated. So Bartusiak it is.

STARTERS

(and we’re playing my favored 4-2-3-1, by the way)

Goalkeeper

Ayuma Kaihori (Japan) – She might have been the biggest surprise of the tournament, but it shows you what confidence can do for you. Without her, there’s obviously no way Japan hoists the Cup, or likely gets past Germany in the quarterfinals.

Right Back

Ali Riley (New Zealand) – Another player from a team that didn’t get out of the group stage, but she was by far her team’s best player, and with a break or two, things might have gone differently for New Zealand. The U.S. might wish she’d stayed in their pool.

Left Back

Sonia Bompastor (France) – Aside from the silly simulation in the third place match, Bompastor used her experience and superior crossing ability to lead the French to new heights. Unfortunately, it might be her last World Cup, but if it was, she went out in style.

Center Backs

Christie Rampone (USA) – Unfortunately, it seemed like she was covering for others’ mistakes for a lot of the tournament, but she was steady and might have covered more ground than anyone in the tournament. Not bad for a 36-year old.

Saki Kumagai (Japan) – She started the tournament with a strange head wrap to protect an injury, but by the end, she was standing tall, perhaps the lone person on the relatively tiny Japanese squad to keep opponents aerial prowess at bay. She wasn’t perfect, but she did very, very well.

HOLDING MIDFIELDERS

Jill Scott (England) – When England needed something, it was Scott who stepped up, scoring the go-ahead goal against France and the goal that gave England a draw versus New Zealand, in addition to her defensive duties. Again, England was somewhat of a bust, but they were perilously close to the semifinals, too.

Simone Laudehr (Germany) – I don’t think Germany’s failure was on her. Like Scott, when her team was in trouble, she took to the offensive end as well and still did very well winning balls in the middle of the field. Laudehr might be one of the most skilled players in the world.

ATTACKING MIDFIELDER

Homare Sawa (Japan) – Pretty hard to deny the Golden Ball and Golden Boot winner from the tournament, no? Pretty much does it all in the middle of the field (or anywhere else you want to put her).

WINGS

Lauren Cheney (USA) – She probably would have been a lock for everyone, but the final might leave a bad taste in some people’s mouth. Remember, though, that she was injured pretty much on the opening kickoff of that match, and through the semifinals, was in the running for best player of the tournament.

Marta (Brazil) – Do I really have to say anything about Marta, other than I think the negative press she got was a little ridiculous? Brazil’s failings certainly weren’t on her, without her, they don’t get out of the group stage.

CENTER FORWARD

Abby Wambach (USA) – Like Marta, what else can you say about Wambach, who nearly willed the United States to the World Cup with a pair of extra time goals. Her best contribution (well, one of the best) might have come after the final, though, when she was direct and honest in answering all the questions, even though she must have been devastated. That’s the kind of leadership a team needs.

(Feel free to put your team in, but remember to put someone else in, you have to take someone out.)

15 thoughts on “The All-Curren Team: Picking The Best 18 From The World Cup

  1. Soccer

    Again what are you SMOKING!!!!!! lol

    Kelly Smith “still the most creative player” even if she was hobbling. She wasn’t creative when she was hobbling. That’s like saying if Marta was injured on the field saying. She’s the best player on the field….its a mute point…..She literally only had a flick on header to Ellen White that was her only contribution during normal/extra time besides the PK.

    You need to drop Kelly Smith RIGHT NOW for Aya Miyama.

    Aya Miyama had several assists!!!! and goals!!!!

    EVERYONE in this tournment was saying “Kelly Smith who? where? oh did she even show up”??? and the answer?????????NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

    Kelly??? i dont think she even had an assist.

    Reply
    1. Ray Curren Post author

      Would appear most people like Miyama over Smith. Probably right, I do think she had more to work with, but her team did win the entire World Cup, while Smith obviously didn’t come close. So my assistants and technical staff probably would have talked me out of that move and took Miyama.

      Reply
  2. Quick as a Flash

    If the US had played Ali Riley in the U20 World Cup in 2006 they would have won that. And who knows what the National team might have achieved with her speed at left or right back. But height and weight trumped speed energy and desire.

    Reply
  3. Ray Orr

    Ok, alright… can we now PLEASE move past the World Cup? There’s plenty of soccer in the U.S. that is currently getting no publicity….

    Reply
    1. Jenna Pel

      Not quite yet. We’ll be covering NCAA and WPS soccer throughout the rest of the week, but will also be finishing up our WWC coverage, too. It’s an event that deserves more than one week of post-tournament coverage.

      Reply
      1. TC

        Right on Jenna the world cup is only once every four years, give it the attention it deserves.
        I’d like to hear about post wc reaction in other countries. Germany, Japan, France–and what moves they are making based on results.

        Reply
    2. cow pasture alum

      This post by Curren was accurately labeled. If you’re not interested in the topic, you can simply not read it.

      Reply
  4. Batfink

    I know Wambach is a huge leader and presence with the style the U.S. play, but she’s quite a distance behind Schelin when you compare their overall games. If I wanted two players up top, Wambach would be one of them, but not ahead of Schelin. In a lone forward role, it has to be Schelin all the time to lead that attack. Schelin can do everything you want in a modern forward. Based on her improved quality since joining Lyon, Schelin has shown more than enough to be in the running for the Ballon D’or too, now playing a very similar style to a Henry when he was in his prime.

    I don’t get Kelly Smith being any where near a tournament best of anything, as she was so invisible at times I couldn’t even give her a spot in the tournaments top of the flops. If you felt that Smith needed a mention based on talent alone don’t worry, Kelly Smith will have her going away party at the Olympics. The fact is 2011 WWC for Smith was just a poor showing by her individual standards.

    Kumagai needs to make way for Rohlin, and you seriously need to find a starting place for Miyama. Sawa and Miyama, are women’s soccer’s Batman and Robin. Miyama had a ridiculous success rate with her assists, and her all round passing ability and intelligent movement was as good as it gets. Did anybody get near Miyama on assists this WWC? Playing from the left but making intelligent moves into the middle, Cheney, and Sjogran, were great, but Miyama was fantastic.

    Since the start of this WPS season, I don’t think Marta has been in the best of form. She’s now carried a slightly out of sorts vibe into a stuttering performance at WWC. She’s a great player who deserves more respect than what she was shown by certain sections of fans while in Germany, but for me she really played below the levels she can normally attain. So in my opinion, I think leaving Marta out of the tournaments best 18 would have been perfectly fine too. It shouldn’t be considered that harsh, when you consider just how good others have been over the last 3 weeks of competition.

    Reply
    1. Matt

      Miyama did lead the tournament in assists (5) but both Cheney and Rapinoe had 3 assists with less minutes. But I think it’s a pretty close tie between Cheney and Miyama. So I see your argument there.

      However, I don’t understand why you would think Kumagai shouldn’t be on the list. She was stellar and really improved as the tournament went on. And considering she is only 20, she played beyond her years against the US and especially Germany.

      Reply
  5. Mike

    Thank you for picking a distinct RB, LB and 2CBs. So many organizations (especially in college ranks) just lump defenders together not realizing the different intricacies of each position. You can’t just pick four CBs and say this is the starting xi.

    Reply
  6. Random

    The whole US wishes Ali Riley was in their pool continues to be a ridiculous argument. Riley herself has said she wasn’t a very good player until she started getting all the training with NZ. So if she hadn’t decided to play with NZ, I have a feeling this conversation wouldn’t even be happening b/c she wouldn’t have had the training to develop her and wouldn’t be the fantastic player she is now. It isn’t like she was a player who was in our YNT ranks (Noyola, Garciamendez) and then decided to switch, she never was a factor in our system at all.

    Reply
  7. Batfink

    Considering how weak USA were down the left, Cheney didn’t show the best of intelligence in being able to help LePeilbet at times when it really mattered. She looked great finding space for herself in the final third, but unlike Miyama had very little combination play with her fullback or center mids.

    Cheney managed to looked great within a patchy team setup, which utilised a very inconsistent style of play. Like most of the U.S. team, she should get extra credit for making it work for her self, but it mostly left the team playing catch up in too many games, nearly killing them twice. As a team they pulled it all together for the final game, but even with them all playing well for that one game, I can’t honestly say Cheney excelled more than Miyama over the course of the WWC.

    The random nature to much of the U.S. play, forced the team to adapt a lot of 1v1 football. Rapinoe thrived in this environment, but she’s so inconsistent I can’t honestly put her near a best of tournament list. Rapinoe attempted a lot of things, but very little that actually worked. Then when it did come off, it always came as a surprise. Quality players just don’t do that. Even compared to her own team mates, both O’Reilly, and Cheney, showed far more quality throughout the tournament.

    Sweden as a unit were rock solid except for one game versus Japan. Sweden outside of every team but Japan, also happened to be the tournaments most consistent side. As much a I recognise Kumagai’s quality play as a young defender, Rohlin within her back four was the best equipped defender on show in Germany. I believe certain Swedish examples of quality were overlooked post WWC, even though they genuinely displayed some of the best qualities of the modern women’s game. Rohlin as a top defender for me is one of them.

    Reply
  8. KP

    Thank you for mentioning O’Reilly. Her speed and ability to take on defenders 1v1 deep in the attacking third and create chances for her teammates makes her quite a threat. She really shoulder her responsibilites for this USWNT well.

    Reply
  9. HSC DOC

    No Necib, the most creative passer in the tournament? I suppose you want to go long ball with your choice of forward.

    Reply

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