Thursday, August 07, 2008

US Women Drop Opener - USA 0-2 Norway

A match report by our dear reader Adam. He covered the 2007 World Cup for us here at du Nord. Give him some good feedback won't you. -Bruce

Group Stage Match 1

USA 0-2 Norway

For the first time ever in a major tournament, the US lost its first game and now finds itself in last place of its group. Sure, it’s only one game. And it’s only one loss. With two games yet to play, the US is certainly not out of medal contention. But the way the team played—ugly, mediocre soccer—doesn’t bode well for any dreams it may have of defending the gold medal it won four years ago.

The US players looked nervous right from the start, and Norway punished them for it, scoring both goals within the first four minutes of the match. On the first goal, Hope Solo tried to punch a Norwegian cross out of the box. Instead, she punched defender Lori Chalupny in the head and allowed Norway’s Lene Larsen Kaurin to head the ball into an open net.

Two minutes later, veteran defender Kate Markgraf’s errant back-pass was picked off by Norway’s Melissa Wiik, who dribbled into the US box and curved her shot just inside the far post.

After the early goals, a clearly deflated US failed to find any rhythm and rarely looked dangerous in front of Norway’s goal. Perhaps the team’s best chance came when Abby Wambach’s replacement in the lineup, Angela Hucles, fired in a shot that Norway’s keeper had to push over the bar. But that was in the 90th minute. The game was already over.

If losing Wambach before the Olympics wasn’t enough of a wake-up call for the US women, if it wasn’t motivation enough for the team to prove they can still win without her, hopefully the loss to Norway will be. The Americans must start playing more competently, or they’ll find advancing out of their group might be as difficult as winning a gold medal.

Next Match:

On Saturday, the US plays Japan, who tied New Zealand 2-2 in the other group G match. Led by midfielder Homare Sawa and striker Eriko Arakawa, Japan relies on technical play and keeps the ball on the ground to utilize their organization and speed. If the US dictates the tempo and avoids the ridiculous errors it had against Norway, it should be able to get a result against the Japanese. Of course, someone from the US needs to start putting the ball in the back of the net.


Blogger Kirk Roberts said...

Someone from the US needs to understand how to possess the ball. One of many downsides to being such a technically poor team is over-reliance on set plays (and strikers who score off set plays).

If we don't learn how to play controlled, possession soccer with some intermediate level of technical ability, then these types of matches will go from being embarrassments to the regular ol' defeat. Now _that_ would be embarrassing.

A similar problem has faced the men's team, though they are getting better (at an excruciatingly slow pace).

1:37 PM  
Anonymous joe said...

Perhaps Brianna Scurry should be on the squad. Seems to me she's better than Hope Solo in goal.

2:02 PM  

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