A recurring midsummer night’s dream.
More like a nightmare for the USWNT. Monday’s group stage match against Japan played out in eerily similar fashion to that of the World Cup final. The U.S. adapted a more direct style of play and had plenty of chances to put the game on ice. Towards the second half, the match looked likely to end in the U.S.’s favor. But the breakthrough goal never came. The U.S. failed to get the better of goalkeeper Miho Fukumoto and a restrained Japanese backline. Japan remained faithful to its patient, possession-oriented style of play. The Nadeshiko’s decisive goal predictably came from a late header off a set piece. The U.S. was undone by Japan’s disciplined, resourceful, precise play once again. (Highlights)
The USWNT will have a third crack at Japan before a possible reunion in London. Both teams are set to meet on Sunday, April 1 at the Kirin Cup in Sendai, Japan which is said to be all but sold out. Good thing ESPN scooped up the broadcasting rights as the match might be even more meaningful now.
Knocked out by the champions of the world.
“They should be role models for the world, the way they play.” Pia Sundhage did not let the sting of defeat diminish her praise for the world champions. As Kevin points out below, the loss set more dubious records for the U.S. The snapped shutout record is something worth lamenting over. The team had previously gone 57 matches without failing to score a goal. The U.S. now looks to claim third place in the tournament for the first time in eight years. They’ll have to get by Sweden, who has had the better of the USWNT in the last three meetings between the two sides.
Germany flattens Sweden en route to Algarve Cup final.
Sundhage’s anxiety (if she ever feels such a thing) should be put to rest if the U.S. faces the same Swedish side that got absolutely thrashed by Germany 4-0 on Monday (highlights). It was the most lopsided scoreline the series has ever produced since both teams first faced off back in 1991. (It was Sweden that ran out 4-0 winners that day.) So was Germany frighteningly good or was Sweden simply abject? Thomas Dennerby’s team was more inventive in the second half, but the team’s defense looked out of sorts. Sweden failed to contain Germany’s unrelenting waves of attacks. Celia Okoyino da Mbabi was practically unplayable on the day, claiming her first hat-trick at international level. It was Germany’s most cohesive performance of the tournament. The side will meet Japan on Wednesday in white hot form. Silvia Neid will undoubtedly be pleased.
Redemption at stake versus Japan.
This is the Germany many were expecting to win a third straight World Cup on home soil. It’s a new-look side on two counts: Neid has called upon new (and in some cases old) faces to replace retirees and current squad members nursing injuries. But this Germany side is also devoid of the self-conscious play that blighted it last summer. Germany now has the chance to do what the U.S. couldn’t. The team can begin to exorcise its demons by getting one back against Japan. With no major tournament until Euro 2013, Wednesday’s match could be a long-lasting benchmark for Germany.
Splendid goalkeeping, spare goals in Panama City.
Canada earned a 1-0 win over Mexico to win Group A in CONCACAF U-20 Women’s World Cup qualifying (highlights). Both sides advance to the semifinals, although the win means Canada will likely avoid the U.S. The parsimonious score line is directly down to brilliant performances by the team’s respective goalkeepers. Cecilia Santiago opened eyes after her fine stints in goal for Mexico in Germany, and was just as inspiring tonight. Sabrina D’Angelo was equally – if not more – impressive. The 18 year old improved as the match wore on, and Mexico’s attack livened up. Should she continue to develop during her time in South Carolina, D’Angelo will be a can’t-miss option for Canada come the 2015 World Cup.
USWNT U-20’s set to close out group play with a bang on Tuesday.
The U.S. is back in action against hosts Panama beginning 7:30 PM ET tomorrow. The U-20’s are coming off back-to-back 6-0 victories that featured seven different goal scorers. U.S. Soccer has more details here.
Can Big Red get one over Les Bleues?
Canada silenced both the Azzurre and Oranje to qualify for a fifth consecutive Cyprus Cup final. Will John Herdman’s side make it three-for-three against teams with chromatic-themed nicknames? The team also has a chance to win its third straight Cyprus Cup title. Barring any Eternal Sunshine of the Spotlight Mind-like shenanigans, few Big Red fans will be able to forget the team’s demoralizing 4-0 defeat against France last summer. The team was torn apart by France’s pace; a problem Herdman admits must be redressed on Tuesday. It’s one of Canada’s final tune-up’s before the
World Cup Olympics. They will look to make it count.