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Same old story
by Paul Kennedy, August 7th, 2008 7:01AM



[MY VIEW] Wednesday's start to the Olympics for the U.S. women recalled their dramatic collapse in the semifinals of the 2007 Women's World Cup 10 months earlier. The Chinese venue was different, Qinhuangdao instead of Hangzhou, but the result was the same.

The 4-0 loss to Brazil snapped Greg Ryan's 51-game unbeaten streak as U.S. women's national team coach and led to his ouster. Wednesday's 2-0 loss to Norway ended Pia Sundhage's honeymoon that was a 21-0-1 record in 2008 and was no less shocking.

At least, Sundhage has a minimum of two more games to rehabilitate the Americans.

About the only good news is the Americans are in the easiest of the three groups with Japan and New Zealand still to play in Group G. Any other group, and you'd have to questions their chances, such were the problems the opening game exposed.

Much was made of the new era Sundhage brought in, and whatever her ideas, she was still playing with the same players Ryan had. Sundhage's only starter who wasn't in China last year was Heather Mitts, and she would have been there but for a knee injury.

Last year the problem was the USA's overreliance on Abby Wambach. Now she's out, and we saw how the USA does without her. Against Norway, the Americans again showed all the faults -- most notably, poor first touches -- that betrayed them last year in the Brazil debacle.

Like the hazy days the Beijing Olympic athletes must endure, the defensive mistakes against Norway as against Brazil 10 months ago cloud a more fundamental problem. The problem wasn't the two goals the Americans conceded to Norway. What was discouraging was how they played the next 86 minutes.


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