Saturday, June 13, 2015

Women's World Cup Day 6: Swiss hammer Ecuador, USA and Sweden stay scoreless

Australia 2-0 Nigeria
Nigeria was able to hang with the Aussies for a while, but their defense betrayed them a couple times, leading to the two goals y Kyah Simon. Simon's first came after she received a pass from Lisa De Vanna, who just made a nice run through the Nigerian defense. Nigeria's defending looked desperate as De Vanna rampaged through half the team before laying off at the last second to Simon. The second of the match was a result of Nigeria trying to breakout of their own penalty area too quickly. They thought they had possession and were about to take off when Australia stole it back and caught the defense out of possession. The forward ball fell to Simon for the easy goal and Australia had their 2-0 win.

Australia is up to three points and finds themselves in a fantastic spot to earn a spot in the knockout rounds. A point against Sweden should be enough to secure the second spot in Group D.

Switzerland 10-1  Ecuador
Switzerland overcame their lack of ability to finish early to hang ten on the Ecuador rec-league all stars. It's really saying something that the first Swiss goal here didn't come until the 24th minute and it was an awful own goal against Ecuador. Eight normal goals and one more own goal later and Switzerland had their easy win. On the plus side for Ecuador, Angie Ponce scored their first ever goal in the World Cup by converting a PK in the 64th minute.

United States 0-0 Sweden
Entering the tournament, the USA boasted loads of highly skilled attacking depth. They have four or five forwards that are capable of starting for any national team in the world. In last night's match against Sweden, all of them were shut down. Sweden's defense had a rough go against Nigeria, but they really cleaned up their act against the number two ranked team in the world.

Despite plenty of ability to work the ball in wide positions, mostly with Megan Rapinoe, the USA was unable to find the final ball into one of their many talented strikers to break the deadlock.

On the other end, one could say they were luck not to have conceded a goal or two. Just after 20 minutes went by, Sydney Leroux got away with blocking a shot with an outstretched elbow that should have been called a penalty. Sweden's counter attack was dangerous a couple of times in the second half, including a two on one that was foiled only by poor passing. Sweden never even registered a shot on goal.

Sweden was doing it's best to outrun the USA in the counter and were only stopped by strong defensive midfield play by Lauren Holiday and the timely interventions of Julie Johnston. They defensive play of the match came in the 77th minute when Sweden almost scored off a corner. A loping ball led to a looping shot that was saved only by the head of Meghan Klingenberg and the crossbar.

It was a solid performance at the back for the USWNT, but offensively they still leave a lot to be desired. The chances were there for the taking, but they were never able to actually reach out and grab them. Sweden was just too strong in the middle of the pitch for the USA to swing in their wide crosses to the heads of either Leroux, Christian Press, or Alex Morgan once she came on as a sub.

They are on top of the group with four points, and should make it to the round of 16 regardless of that happens against Nigeria, but the final match of the group most certainly will count for something. A win means they take the all important top spot in the group. A draw could mean they fall to second place if Australia beats Sweden. An unlikely loss can see them drop down to third if they lose by enough.

Japan 0-0 Cameroon
Japan's pair of goals came before 20 minutes had expired. First it was Aya Sameshima in the sixth minute. Then it was Yuika Sugasawa in the 17th. From that point on, Japan just dared Cameroon to score for the rest of the match. Cameroon blasted 20 shots on the Japanese goal with none of them going in until Ajara Nchout scored in the final minute. It wasn't enough as Cameroon couldn't find a second goal to even the points. Japan is through to the knockout rounds and only needs a point against lowly Ecuador to win the group for sure. Just try not to beat them too badly. Meanwhile, Cameroon will face Switzerland with second place on the line. The loser will have to wait for the rest of the third place finishers to come in to learn their fate.

Today's Matches
Four matches close out the second round of group play and it all begins in Moncton at 1pm with France against Colombia. France gritted out a 1-0 victory against England while Colombia salvaged a draw with Mexico. I expect France to get the win here, but it will be another close call as they take it 2-1.

Span and Brazil meet at 4pm in Montreal. I think Brazil has the quality to see of the Spanish rookies by a 2-0 score.

Also at 4pm, this time back in Moncton, England looks to get their first win of this World Cup over Mexico. England looked lethargic at times against France and will look to be a little better against more beatable opposition. They should squeak out a result here. I say 1-0 to England.

Finally, back in Montreal at 7pm, Korea takes on Costa Rica. Costa Rica'a draw against Spain was one of the best matches of the first round. The goalkeeping of Las Ticas, in particular, was impressive. Both teams are defend first, score later outfits, so I am calling for a 0-0 draw.

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