Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Women's World Cup Day 9: USWNT wins the group of death

Ecuador 0-1 Japan
Japan find themselves on top after only five minutes with a goal from Yuki Ogimi and it looked like another smackdown against Ecuador in the waiting. But, that one goal was it. Despite launching 35 crosses, taking 20 shots, and winning nine corners, one goal was all Japan mustered. Japan has yet to play a strong opponent, so we really don't know what they are truly made of. We do know that goals have been hard to find against these weaker teams, so we can only imagine what happens when they face someone with true talent. They won all the matches to win the group, but their knockout round run might not be a long one if they don't turn it up.

Switzerland 1-2 Cameroon
I severely misjudged Cameron entering this tournament. I thought that they would sit with the likes of Thailand, Ivory Coast, and Ecuador as newcomers that would just be happy to show up. Instead they get a comeback win in the final match of the group stage to head to the round of 16 through automatic qualification.

After a goal for Switzerland from Ana Maria Crnogorcevic in the 24th minute, Cameroon fought back with second half goals from Gabrielle Onguene in the 47th and Madeleine Ngoni Mani to take all three points.

Cameroon takes second in the group with six points and moves along to face China in the round of 16. Switzerland can still move on with their +7 goal difference as one if the top four third place teams.

Australia 1-1 Sweden
Australia got themselves on top early on in this one. Lisa De Vanna scored off a wonderful long pass just after the clock passed 4:00. About ten minutes later, Sweden got their equalizer from Sofie Jakobsson with a low bouncing shot from outside the penalty area. Australia were the better team going forward. They just  couldn't convert. The draw was okay for them, however. It was enough to see them into second place to qualify for the knockout rounds. Sweden will need some help from tomorrow's games in order to advance.

Nigeria 0-1 United States
This was another match where the USA struggled to score against an inferior opponent. They shook up the starting lineup a bit and didn't exactly get different results. Alex Morgan got her first start of the World Cup and played well. She had two great chances that were only thwarted by Precious Dede in Nigeria's goal. She was subbed out after about an hour for Sydney Leroux who really didn't have a chance to showcase her abilities. Abby Wambach started again and scored the USA's lone goal with a flying kick off a corner just before the halftime whistle. She started to wear down as the match went on. Tobin heath started out wide and looked somewhat intimidated for much of the game.

Overall, it seems that the USA is having difficulty linking up in their attack. It doesn't seem to matter which forward combination they use, none of them seem to be able to finish off an attack. Their final pass is never there. Their shots are off. The entire offense looks out of sync. Abby Wambach will blame the artificial turf, as she always does, but I won't buy that. Other teams have had no trouble scoring on the carpet, so why should the USA use that as an excuse?

The best sign for the USA has been their stout defense. Aside from the opening half hour or so against Australia, they back line has been stellar. There were a couple of times tonight where Nigeria was close to getting behind the defense, but someone, usually Julie Johnson, was always scurrying back to make a play. Johnston has probably been the USA's best player in the World Cup so far. Without her timely interventions on defense, the USA probably loses to Sweden and Nigeria makes this match a lot more interesting.

Regardless of the sub-par play, the USA managed to win the group of death, as they should have. The expectation was that they would win every match they play. They may have fallen short of that, but they got the end result right. Now, they await tomorrow's results to see who they will take on in the round of 16. Nigeria, is eliminated from the World Cup with the loss.

Tomorrow's Matches
The final day of group play gives us some intriguing matches. The action gets started at 4pm. First off it's England against Colombia. Colombia is rising high after their upset of France, so England should be a little worried. A win for Las Cafeteras makes them an unlikely qualifier for the round of 16. I say they fail to win, but squeak out a 1-1 draw.

The other late afternoon match is France against Mexico. France will have some recovering to do after their shocking defeat against Colombia. I expect them to handle Mexico by a 2-0 score.

At 7pm, we get Brazil and Costa Rica. Brazil has already won the group, so they have nothing to play for. Even with their apathy, and Costa Rica's need of a result, I don't expect Las Ticas to put up much of a fight. I say Brazil wins 2-0.

Finally, Spain takes on South Korea with both sides needing a win to stay alive. I like the draw here as well as neither side has done much to convince me they can win a game. I'll say a final of 1-1.

No comments:

Post a Comment