Friday, October 05, 2007

Women's world Cup wrap-up

Now that I've finally watched it all, let's talk about what next.

First, Congrats to Germany on having an excellent gameplan (& also for the brilliant execution) to combat Brazil and exploit their weaknesses. Yes, Germany got lucky a little bit with Brazil's poor finishing (Marta's blown penalty, notably), but a lot of German chances seemed scarier than Brazil's to me. Also, goalkeeping was an issue- you can point to both German goals as perhaps stoppable by the Brazilian Keeper, but Nadine Angerer was flawless (literally!) throughout the tourney. It's a shame that the US didn't get face them. Brazil was the most fun to watch while on the attack, but it really seemed all of the top 3 teams in the WWC deserved their spots.

Looking back at the US-Brazil game, it really was just a confluence of bad events that resulted in the 4-0 spanking. Brazil had a great game, no doubt, and deserved the win. But the US not only experienced some bad luck on the first own goal, but also shot themselves in the foot by putting Brianna Scurry in the goal when Hope Solo was on a roll-o. Two of Brazil's goals the younger and longer Solo could've deflected (would have? we'll never know). Solo might've been able to communicate better with her players on the goal. Maybe not. It was clearly Brazil's day all around. But the real sickening nail in the coffin was when a Brazilian player tripped and basically tackled Shannon Boxx, and Boxx got ejected. Just an outstanding amazingly bad call, and killed the US's chances of getting back into it.

The US recovered back nicely against Norway, but play seemed to call Coach Greg Ryan's ability into question more than ever. So, here's my two cents (not that anyone cares): Coach Ryan's gotta go.

ESPN's Jen Chang has a good run-down of Ryan's failures, and how the final game but for me the clincher was reading this article which suggests sheer spitefulness on the part of the USSF in choosing Ryan in the first place. But if we want to make it even simpler, I suggest the USSF considers the following:

The US doesn't have many all-world players anymore (Wambach, Whitehill, maybe Chalupny & Osborne could continue on to greatness, but Boxx is getting too far on). Hope Solo could be the best keeper in the world in the next few years. The US needs Solo, and needs her and the team meshed by next Summer's Olympic games. The USSF would not be choosing Solo over Ryan (and Ryan will probably make sure that's the case), but everybody could probably use a fresh start, and frankly the easiest way to do this is going to be by getting a new face (or an old one, Tony D?) to lead the team forward.

But I also hated the way Ryan had the US playing. I can't see how Chang thought that Abby Wambach wasn't first-team all-WWC given the US's playing style. Out-possessed by almost everyone, the only reason the US was still a top-3 team was due to the scoring brilliance and work-rate of Abby. In fact, I'd take Abby any day of Birgit Prinz, as Abby can score as well as Birgit, but also is a better target. Prinz started a lot of Brazil's scariest counter-attacks (notably the possession that led to the PK) by not being able to trap long serves. Abby can do that. But she shouldn't have to chase long balls every single possession. Ridiculous.


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