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