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.


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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2015 Women’s World Cup – United States vs Sweden – Little Offensive Quality on Display in Stalemate

Starting Tactical Lineup (from FIFA.com)

Starting Tactical Lineup (from FIFA.com)

PRE – GUYS DID YOU HEAR PIA SAID SOME STUFF ABOUT CARLI LLOYD (and others). I swear, the buildup to this one was interminable with the FOX talking heads constantly yammering about how Lloyd was super super motivated to do her very best on the pitch, because Pia said some stuff months ago. It’s such a clumsy and trite narrative that was exhausting before this one even kicked off. Of course, millions of fanboys and fangirls across the ‘net threw up their hands in joy with Wambach being benched, sending Press up top as a center forward. Pia, under pressure after a woeful opener, juggled her defense, though she left the main culprit, Nilla Fischer, on the backline. We’ll see…

3’ – Already shaping up to be a physical battle. Sjogran harasses Leroux backwards with the ball, and the American forward eventually goes down, drawing the official’s whistle. Johnston gets a head on the free kick, even as she collides with Leroux, but the flag goes up for offside.

8’ – Relentless stop-start to begin the match. Lost of minor fouls and other stoppages in play making it hard for either to develop a rhythm.

10’ – This match needs to suck considerably less, because the gaps in things actually happening is giving the announcers more time to discuss Pia Comment-Gate.

13’ – Contentious. Krieger, on an underlapping run, dishes to Press in the box. Press jostles with Fischer in the box, with the Swedish defender prodding the ball behind, but the referee blows for a free kick the other way. Foul on Press? In what universe?

18’ – An opportunity for something to happen, thank god. Holiday whips a free kick from midfield into the box, but Lindahl has no problem rising to catch.

20’ – The U.S. miss out on an opportunity to intercept a pass in their own third, and Schelin dribbles past Holiday and Klingenberg to the endline. Nobody’s making a far post run though, and it’s whacked behind for a corner. Headed away by Rapinoe.

22’ – More controversy. Outswinging Swedish corner falls to Seger, who rockets a shot off Leroux with a hell of a lot of calls for handball. Not given, and the U.S. clear. Replays show that Leroux’s elbow was moving as the ball hit it. Big talking point.

24’ – Deep cross from Klingenberg through the goalmouth intended for Brian is far above her head. Cross from the other side intender for Leroux, but she’s nudged to the turf by Ilestedt. Scrappy stuff.

27’ – U.S. clears from a corner, and Dahlkvist’s effort from range is well high of the bar.

33’ – Long ball from the U.S. leads to a backward header from Press that Ilestedt clumsily heads behind for a corner. Holiday plays it low on the ground to Rapinoe, whose tame effort is blocked and cleared. They keep it moving, and Press plays a nice ball to Krieger in the box, but it’s low and easily claimed by Lindahl.

35’ – The U.S. heads another corner away. They’ve done a fairly solid job with set piece defense thus far.

36’ – Speaking of headers in the box, the U.S. is just short of getting one on target, as Krieger’s delivery flies just ahead of Rapinoe. Good idea. Gotta get it to Pinoe in dangerous positions as often as humanly possible.

38’ – Worrying moment for the U.S., as a corner from Sjogran is only just punched by Solo. Dahlkvist gets onto the bouncing ball at the other end of the area but shanks a cross behind.

39’ – Sjogran clatters Holiday from behind and is whistled for a foul despite protests that she got the ball. She did, but only after taking out Holiday rather obviously. Rapinoe’s free kick flies into the first row of the American Outlaws.

43’ – Press posts Fischer up in the area and turns, having one crossed blocked before sending a second towards the penalty spot. Rapinoe leaps for an ugly looking overhead kick and misses by a mile.

HT – Hoof, hoof, hoof. An execrable half of football. The U.S. has been a low pressure, long ball obsessed side through the first forty-five, and they haven’t forced Lindahl into a big save as of yet. On the other hand, Sweden have been just as poor, creating jack squat out of open play despite winning multiple corners. They may feel very hard done by with the Leroux handball that wasn’t called, while the U.S. will also rue a potential penalty not given early. The U.S. has defended most of those corners well, and it’s led to a dull stalemate through forty-five minutes. We’ve expected blood and thunder and gotten a lot of huffing and puffing instead.
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2015 Women’s World Cup – Switzerland vs Ecuador – Swiss Come To Life After Languid First Half

Starting Tactical Lineup (from FIFA.com)

Starting Tactical Lineup (from FIFA.com)

PRE – Yeah, I’m not exactly looking forward to this one. Ecuador looked like a group of moving cones against Cameroon, and Switzerland are probably a better side than that on paper, which doesn’t bode well for this one. The Swiss will be looking to run it up to maintain a goal differential advantage, meaning we could hit double digits. At the very least, I’m hoping this is going to be an entertaining squash.

4’ – That’s not very promising. Switzerland plays a short corner, with Ecuador trying to pull off a half-assed offside trap. Ponce leaves a gaggle of Swiss players onside, and Crnogorcevic is unlucky to head it over.

6’ – Maritz does well to slot in Aigbogun near the endline, and her cross is spilled by Berruz, but there’s nobody there to pounce, so she falls on it.

10’ – How is this still 0-0? Rinast gets all the way to the endline before knocking it across the face of goal. Humm dives at it but only sends it further towards the far post. Aigbogun tries to volley it, but she somehow puts it wide with the goal gaping. An unbelievable miss.

15’ – Probe, probe, probe. Switzerland are gouging Ecuador on the flanks but struggling to put that final touch on it.

16’ – Case in point, Crnogorcevic slides a diagonal ball into the area, with it actually hitting Aigbogun’s feet before it looked to be sliding to Berruz. Bachmann can’t pounce, and Ecuador clear.

17’ – Instant replay, as Crnogorcevic drives into the box past the static defense and cuts back for Bachmann, who’s wide open but sends her shot into Row Z.

18’ – Ecuador can’t handle Crnogorcevic, who drives to the endline and shoots herself from a tight angle, with Berruz parrying. Aigbogun can’t get there for the rebound, as Ecuador clear.

21’ – Ecuador win a long free kick, and they serve it into the box, with Switzerland heading behind. Thalmann claws at it feebly, but Ecuador wastes the chance with a shot that goes out for a goal kick.

22’ – Waelti plays a one-two with Humm, who dribbles past a weak tackle and takes a shot that Berruz claims easily. One-way traffic.

23’ – Man, who taught this Ecuador side how to tackle? First, Rodriguez pulls out of a tackle as Aigbogun blows by her, before Real dives in about five seconds too early. The winger crosses, but it’s cleared. Seconds later, Rinast hits Real with an inadvertent clothesline to the jaw. Err. Booking for being reckless at the least?

24’ – GOAL – Switzerland (Ponce own goal) – It was coming. Crnogorcevic plays in Humm, who doesn’t exactly seem to be blessed with great pace. She still gets to the endline though, and her cutback hits the unfortunate Ponce, and the deflection leaves Berruz wrongfooted.

28’ – Glimmer of hope for Ecuador, as Ponce plays in Quinteros, who has the winning of a footrace with Abbe. Abbe’s a cultured defender though, and she swings back to slide and prod away.

31’ – Switzerland nearly pay dearly for devoting too many numbers to attack, as Palacios plays a lovely ball on the ground for the run of Quinteros. 1v1 with Kiwic, she’s muscled off the ball and knocked to the turf but doesn’t get the call. The height disparity is huge. You’ve seen them given…

35’ – Bachmann lays a quick pass out to Crnogorcevic wide. She has all day to cross to the near post, and the marking is again slack as all the Ecuadorian players watch the ball. Aigbogun, who’s looked fairly useless thus far, makes a meal of it, barely making contact with a header when she should be powering it home. Berruz juggles Humm’s headed effort, and it goes out for a corner. Delivery on that corner is poked at by everyone in a red shirt but bounces through and onto the far post! Berruz claim as her defenders stand and stare.

37’ – Switzerland definitely look vulnerable to pace and the counter. Ponce intercepts a lazy ball intended for Waelti and takes off into a whole lot of space. Quinteros has a fit near the area as Ponce doesn’t give it up, but the latter does win a corner. Header into the turf, but Thalmann is quick off her line to dive on the ball.

39’ – Moser gets in on the act, driving endline and crossing, but Crnogorcevic can’t make good contact, letting Berruz catch.

41’ – Rinse, repeat. Aigbogun gets to the endline, crosses over one defender and has it fall to Humm, but it bounces right to the keeper. The finishing! Ack, the finishing!

45’ + 2’ – GOAL – Switzerland (Aigbogun) – Long ball to Crnogorcevic at the endline, as she’s held onside by Aguilar. She glides past Rodriguez and is allowed to pass right to Aigbogun by Aguilar, who, for some reason, steps away from the ball. Ponce doesn’t make a great effort to cut the pass out, leaving Aigbogun with an easy finish from a few yards out. Awful goal to concede, but you can’t say the Swiss haven’t deserved it.

HT – Ecuador have had a few opportunities to test the plodding Swiss center-backs with pace on the counter. That’s about it for the positives for the South American side who look technically deficient and tactically naive. Switzerland could’ve had five or six more had they been able to finish a ball much of the half. I’d expect the scoreline to get uglier in the second half as the Swiss’ greater fitness takes hold.
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2015 Women’s World Cup – Australia vs Nigeria – Jaded Nigeria No Match for Well-Rounded Australians

Starting Tactical Lineup (from FIFA.com)

Starting Tactical Lineup (from FIFA.com)

PRE – So, it’s time to find out if Nigeria is for real. Odds are, they’re going to need three points in this one to move on, as the U.S. looms in their final match. They showed well offensively against Sweden, but their set piece defending and goalkeeping was dire. On the other hand, Australia needs three points as well after losing to the U.S. in their first match. They had the Americans reeling early, but the Matildas noticeably ran out of gas in the second half en route to a 3-1 loss. Defeat here would put them on the brink with Sweden left to play.

1’ – It’s going to be a long day for Australia if they defend like that. Kennedy plays a suicidal backpass towards Alleway that Oparanozie intercepts but just slips on the turf as she looked to be in.

2’ – De Vanna swoops in to intercept from Oparanozie and takes off on a mazy dribble. She swings a diagonal ball to Kerr, and Ohale clumsily trips her at the arc. They tap it a couple times, but that just gives the wall time to charge it down.

5’ – Ohale long throws a ball over the line for a goal kick. Well, that’s something.

11’ – Kerr steps in an intercepts from Okobi, who doesn’t seem too keen to fight to win it back, and drives in a cross to De Vanna, but it’s just a shade too far and out for a goal kick.

15’ – Foord skips through a tackle and stretches play with a ball to Kerr on the sideline. Kerr’s ball hits Chukwunonye amidst handball claims, but nothing’s given. Replays show it hit the Nigerian’s chest.

16’ – Chukwunonye prods away from Kerr from a corner. Australia attacking down the right side at will right now.

17’ – Australian corner, and, unsurprisingly, they crowd the box in front of Dede. It’s wasted though, as the ref whistles for a foul.

20’ – Nigeria ping it around a bit with some short passes as Australia defend deep. The ball eventually skitters to Nwabuoku, whose shot from the top of the arc bounces right to Williams.

22’ – Nwabuoku coughs it up in midfield and should really be booked for a ludicrous challenge from behind, but the referee plays advantage. Gorry plays a gorgeous diagonal ball into the box for the run of Kerr, but her shot is off-balance and right to Dede.

23’ – It’s Australia’s spot to concede possession in a dangerous area, as Van Egmond loses out to Okobi at the edge of the area. Oparanozie takes a shot from the corner of the box, but it’s always bending wide of the post.

27’ – Free kick from center circle for Australia bounces at the six, but it’s right to Dede ahead of any attackers.

29’ – GOAL – Australia (Simon) – Big, big goal. De Vanna breaks at pace and splits Ohale and Ayinde before being upended by a flying tackle. She still manages to get it off to Simon though, and as Dede hesitates coming off her line, Simon deposits it inside of the far post.

34’ – Underlapping run by Foord sees her drive into space before threading a ball into Gorry in the box. Gorry dances on it for too long and has a shot blocked. De Vanna somehow left wide open about ten yards out but she whacks her volley wide. Nigeria defending like a youth team, all streaming to player with the ball, letting others roam unmarked.

37’ – Midfield interception by Nigeria sees Okobi play a long ball that splits the center-backs and that bounces near Oparanozie’s run. Williams slides off her line to claim though. Great play.

40’ – Ack. Australia have another corner and they play it short before Simon sends a shot into orbit. They’re overthinking it. Just send it into the six.

41’ – Nigeria waste a chance at the other end. Oshoala at the endline cuts it back for a wide open Okobi, who spins and shoots tamely at Williams. Australian markers were sticking to every Nigerian attacker like glue in the box.

42’ – YELLOW CARD – Nigeria (Nwabuoku) – Oshoala dribbles centrally, passes to Okobi, who backheels to Ordega, who powers past Alleway and crosses on the ground across the six, but Australia clears. Right after, Nwabuoku high kicks Kerr going for a bouncing ball and is booked for dangerous play.

HT – Nigeria look like a side that have been found out. Australia are doing a fantastic job of denying space and keeping the Nigerian attack grounded after they had so much room against Sweden. Going the other way, the Australian attack has had numerous chances to pry open the Nigerian defense and will fancy their chances of scoring more. They need to make the most of set pieces though, as the few they’ve won have been wasted.
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2015 Women’s World Cup – Canada vs New Zealand – Wasteful Canada & Unimaginative Ferns Combine for Sloppy Draw

Starting Tactical Lineup (from FIFA.com)

Starting Tactical Lineup (from FIFA.com)

PRE – The heat is on these two sides after underwhelming displays in their respective openers. Canada drew a contentious late penalty against China that bailed them out after a turgid display, while New Zealand were not as fortunate against Holland, losing 1-0 and looking impotent offensively. The Ferns really need points here to avoid further pressure on the final match day against China. With John Herdman talking up a big game before and during the tournament, he dare not lose to his former side on this rainy evening.

2’ – Sesselmann and Gregorious get a little handsy near the touchline, prompting a whistle. Get the feeling this could be a scrappy affair.

4’ – Boom. Players are cleared off the field after an apparent lightning strike in the area. Match was being played at 100 MPH despite it being in a torrential downpour.

5’ – Back underway, and Nayler is called upon to come off her line and catch a free kick cross from the far side, holding after juggling slightly.

7’ – Filigno jumps through Duncan at midfield. It’s been rough since the restart.

8’ – After the free kick, Canada has some space to roam into, with Schmidt trying to pick out Sinclair with a short pass that’s cleared. She had Tancredi wide open on the left flank but didn’t even look at her.

10’ – Buchanan comes flying in late from the side on Duncan and scrapes her studs against Duncan’s left shin. Perhaps lucky to avoid a booking. Free kick into the box is headed by Hearn, prompting McLeod to tip over the bar beautifully. McLeod flaps at the corner, but it evades everybody.

12’ – Hearn gets taken down for a free kick on the far edge of the box as Belanger and Lawrence have a moment, colliding with each other in trying to defend against the Fern forward. Head tennis off the free kick results in Belanger storming forward on the counter. Square ball is cut out.

14’ – Long ball by Canada headed back by Percival, but right into the path of Sinclair, who has the beating of Stott for pace. Stott pokes clear, and the move breaks down.

16’ – Free kick for New Zealand, but Erceg nods it softly wide of the post.

21’ – Sesselmann does brilliantly to slide in and tackle the ball away from a rampaging Gregorius on the near touchline. Canada’s able to clear soon after.

22’ – Couple of backward headers set up space for Tancredi to run into on the near sideline, but instead of totally using that space, she plays a hopeless ball in Sinclair’s direction despite being marked 2v1. A poor touch by Erceg keeps the play alive though, and Tancredi eventually knocks back to Schmidt, whose cross into the box is headed by Filigno. Nayler stretches and claims well though.

23’ – Canada with another golden opportunity, as Lawrence picks out Sinclair, who bursts past Stott with clinical timing. Nayler slides out and makes a great save, and New Zealand hack clear.

26’ – Hearn and Buchanan get physical on a free kick at the edge of the box, with it looking like the New Zealand player got an arm hooked around Buchanan’s dreadlocks. They both hit the ground as the referee whistles.

27’ – Erceg makes a meal out of an attempted diving headed clearance from a Belanger cross, with the ball eventually bouncing to Sinclair in the box. Ref whistles for a handball.

29’ – Longo catches Belanger up the pitch and glides past Scott when she rotates to cover. The midfielder’s cross goes off Buchanan’s chest and bounces behind for a corner. Ferns whistled right off the corner for a foul.

31’ – MISSED PENALTY – New Zealand (Hearn) – Wow. Buchanan loses possession to Hassett in her own end, with the midfielder slotting Wilkinson in the Canadian area. Chapman bundles over Wilkinson in the box, while Bibiana Steinhaus bizarrely shows the yellow card to Lauren Sesselmann. Wilkinson was definitely looking for it, but there certainly was contact. It all goes for naught though, as Hearn rockets it off the bar, with Scott clearing away. Huge spurned chance.

37’ – Schmidt with a jumping shoulderblock on Percival gives New Zealand another chance to swing in a dangerous free kick. McLeod off her line confidently though and catches with no problem.

39’ – Hassett shoulders Schmidt over, with the latter scissoring the Fern’s left leg as she falls. Incredibly, no whistle. Percival intercepts Schmidt’s diagonal ball and clears the danger.

41’ – McLeod flaps at a corner, but a sliding Hearn can’t make solid contact on the ball at the far post. She again makes a mess of the following corner, needing Belanger’s wild hack to put it into touch.

43’ – Lawrence intercepts a poor square ball and takes off on the counter. With Sinclair charging on the left, Lawrence ignore her and instead fires a weak, long shot that Nayler scoops up easily. Selfish.

44’ – Wilkinson does really well to charge down a clearance from McLeod and blazes to the endline before crossing into the box. And no, she hasn’t learned how to cross better since the last match. It’s straight to Buchanan, who successfully plays her way out of danger.

45’ – Canadian free kick, with Schmidt delivering to Sinclair, whose snap header falls to Tancredi who finishes to the far post…but the flag goes up for offside.

HT – Canada have had their chances but squandered more than one with some faulty decision making and mediocre finishing. New Zealand have had the best chance though and may rue the penalty that Hearn missed. It’s been a physical battle, and that’s unlikely to change in the second half.
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