Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Women's Olympic Final Preview

Match preview by du Nord Women's Soccer Major Tournament Correspondent Adam.

-Thu Aug 21
USA v Brazil
Kicks off at 8am central time.
See it live on USA Network.

US Takes on Brazil for Gold

The USA’s semifinal win against Japan can teach them a few things about their clash with Brazil for the gold medal.

1. Start Sharp

Sure, the US was able to come back from a one-goal deficit against Japan in the semis. Thankfully, the Japanese didn’t score twice, like Norway did. However, for much of the first half, the US looked unnerved as Japan’s defense continually stymied its offensive efforts. Out of frustration or desperation, the US sent a flurry of long balls at Japan’s backline, losi ng valuable possession. Against Brazil, going a goal down isn’t the end of the USA’s chances to win gold. The important thing for the team to do is stay calm and play controlled soccer. Frantic play, like the US exhibited early against Japan, will only make the team more vulnerable to Brazil’s explosive offense.

2. Vary the Attack

Two of the USA’s goals came from lofted crosses that somehow found their way past Japanese keeper Fukumoto. The other two US goals came from varied US attacking runs. On the first goal, Heather O’Reilly beat the Japanese defense to the endline. Lindsay Tarpley dummied her low cross, and Angela Hucles easily side-footed the ball into the net. On the second goal, Lori Chalupny beat two defenders on the dribble and slammed her shot into the roof of the net. Both goals came from US possession and passing. If the US wants to put the ball past the Brazilian defense, it must create varied opportunities like it did against Japan. Three different Americans scored in the semifinal, including a defender. The US will have to commit multiple players to its attack—and patiently knock the ball around on the ground—in order to break up Brazil’s midfield play and put the defense under pressure.

3. Don’t Lose Concentration

Most people assume Brazil will score first and often against the US. But, if the US scores first, or has any lead at all, it will important for the Americans to keep their focus. Against Japan, after the US scored its fourth goal, the team lost concentration. Japan had a free header, hit the crossbar, and finally scored a consolation goal in the final minutes of the semi. The US cannot stop defending against Brazil, or Marta and company will shred the defense.

A US win over Brazil in the gold medal match isn’t probable, but it is possible. Brazil’s emotion often gets the best of them, and if the US can expose Brazil’s mental flaws, it might be able to turn that into goals. Marta and Cristiane will surely give the US defense plenty to worry about. Still, the battle in the midfield between Shannon Boxx and Carli Lloyd and Brazil’s Formiga and Daniela is also crucial. Lloyd looked sloppy and a little lazy against Japan. She’ll certainly need to improve against Brazil.

This game is a rematch of the 2004 Olympic final, which the US won 2-1 in overtime. It is also a rematch of the 2007 World Cup semifinal in which Brazil handed the US its worst defeat ever, winning 4-0. Brazil looks poised to get revenge for its gold medal loss. Still, what would the Olympics be without a Cinderella team? No one expected the Americans to make it this far after their opening loss to Norway. < /SPAN>With all the pressure on Brazil, maybe the Americans will spring an upset of their own.

Bronze Medal Game

Germany and Japan square off for the bronze medal. Germany will be seeking redemption for its poor Olympic tournament, and Japan will be out to prove its deep run to the semis was no fluke. Japan has played inspired soccer, but Germany isn’t going to miss taking home a medal, even if it isn’t the color the team wanted. Germany’s defense will be the key. If they crumble like they did against Brazil, Japan might be able to put a few past Nadine Angerer. Germany’s size advantage over Japan, though, will make things difficult for the Japanese.


Members of the USA women's soccer, basketball and volleyball teams crossed paths yesterday and posed for the big group picture. Only at the Olympics.


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