Tenacity trumps tactics for astounding USA win

[WOMEN'S WORLD CUP] Bizarre refereeing and chaotic conditions could not deter the USA from eliminating Brazil on penalty kicks, 5-3, following an incredible two hours of quarterfinal play in Dresden. The USA pulled out a miraculous victory, playing with 10 women, equalizing 2-2 in stoppage time of the second overtime and then prevailing in a shootout in their Women's World Cup quarterfinal match in Dresden.

As the only heavyweight left standing in this battle, it will be the incredible spirit and determination of the U.S. women that can keep them upright for two more games.

They defied burning lungs, melting legs, and refereeing fiascos to edge past Brazil in the Women’s World Cup quarterfinals in Dresden Sunday with an unswerving resolve to prevail, no matter what. All of their resolve was necessary to overcome a questionable red card and penalty kick re-take that provided Brazil with an equalizing goal and one-player advantage 20 minutes into the second half, and rally ahead when a perhaps offside goal dropped them a goal behind at the start of overtime.

Despite jumping on top in the second minute on a Brazilian own goal, the Americans didn’t play much sharp, confident soccer once given that shock lead. Their attack sputtered, they turned the ball over in bad spots, and often gave it back again after regaining it. But they also blunted and frustrated Brazil’s three-pronged forward line and pulled back outside mids Heather O’Reilly and Lauren Cheney to help close down the flanks. By getting numbers around Marta whenever she got the ball, the Americans denied her those first few quick steps from which she takes flight.

Coach Pia Sundhage had decided not to change her back line, despite some rough stretches for left back Amy LePeilbet and centerback Rachel Buehler. O’Reilly, who sat out the group finale against Sweden because of a groin strain, came back into the team at right mid, and Sundhage again deployed Amy Rodriguez and Abby Wambach up front.

Sundhage had only one central defender – Becky Sauerbrunn – on the bench, and she had yet to play in the tournament. The other two defenders in reserve, Heather Mitts and Stephanie Cox, normally play on the outside. After two clumsy plays by Buehler that gave away a penalty kick and a free kick by which Sweden scored its goals in a 2-1 defeat of the U.S. to conclude group play, suggestions were made that Sauerbrunn replace Buehler.

Instead, Sundhage took up another possibility – to move Rampone from the right central spot to the left position to give LePeilbet more support. Thus right back Ali Kreiger, who had impressed with her steady play during group play, and Rampone would be bracketing Buehler, known more for her strength and toughness than speed.

The plan worked pretty well for more than an hour, and with a gifted 1-0 lead provided in the second minute when a Shannon Boxx cross from the left was scuffed into her own net by Brazilian defendere Daiane, the Americans, though plagued by an egregiously high rate of turnovers, had already been able to frustrate Brazil by getting numbers around the ball to cut off those silky and incisive dribbles and combinations which typifies its game. Only rarely did Brazil conjure up a move like that of Cristiane, who scythed through several Americans with a veering dribble from the left side into the middle that finally broke apart in a tangle at the edge of the penalty area when Boxx’s tackle jarred the ball loose.

For whatever reason, the Americans’ dogged defending appeared to discourage Brazil from turning on the magic when an opportunity beckoned. In the first half, when O’Reilly lost the ball in midfield and Brazil turned it into a counter, Marta raced up the left channel with Christie Rampone on her inside shoulder in pursuit. Rather than juke inside Rampone to find a better shooting position, Marta shot from a bad angle on her preferred left foot and missed the target.

In Brazil’s 3-0 defeat of Norway in the group phase, Marta had opened the scoring by racing past a challenge on a counter, cutting inside another defender, and drilling home a left-footed shot. Led by Rampone’s uncanny instinct of when to step up and when to drop, the Americans were able to use the range and aggression of their midfielders to bottle up Brazil in that space beyond their penalty area.

Only rarely did Brazil stitch together enough passes or launch a splitting through ball that opened a clear path to goal. Hope Solo easily covered the shots that came from distance, though just before Brazil equalized in the second half the U.S. keeper bobbled a Cristiane shot and lunged to smother the loose ball. She also dominated in the air, snagging and repelling the high balls played by talented, frustrated players whose creativity had been sapped by constantly fending off spirited, zealous challenges.

But no effort or tactical system can defy a master like Marta indefinitely, and when she got free on the left flank to lob a ball over Kreiger and Buehler to arrow directly for goal, Marta drew the foul – more or less – she’d been looking for in the 65th minute. More problematic for Sundhage and the Americans came when a red card came out for Buehler, which reduced her to tears and the USA down to 10 players.

Rather than further disrupt the 10 players remaining on the field – since one player would have to be replaced to get Sauerbrunn into the game – she dropped Boxx into the back line, where Boxx could maintain somewhat the central connection with Lloyd that Sundhage has been very reluctant to break up. It also relieved Boxx of the heavy workload demanded of the central mids, both of which are tasked with two-way responsibilities that include tracking and double-teaming when the opponent has the ball.

Sundhage had already replaced Cheney with Megan Rapinoe, whose touches and passes brought and precision and guile to a rather straightforward USA attack. While she lost a few balls in bad spots and wasn’t always up to the task of winning them back, her sharp set plays – Lloyd, in space cleared by Wambach, headed one of her free kicks off the crossbar – and accurate passes provided chances.

Brazil, flustered by barren spells of sporadic possession and limited touches, never stretched out the Americans to fully exploit the numbers advantage. The Americans roused their game for the final 55 minutes and for most of that phase played the more inspired, determined soccer.

Several Americans, including Boxx, hesitated early in overtime when a ball played to Maurine on the left wing appeared to be offside. Marta darted away from Boxx to hit Maurine’s bouncing cross with an incredible first-time flick that nicked the inside of the post on its way into the net. Yet even then, the Americans had a reply, supplied in the second minute of overtime stoppage-time when Rapinoe launched a driven cross from near the left touchline that Wambach, at the edge of the six-yard box, powerfully headed home.

The USA endured a penalty-kick re-take when Andreia moved too soon to repel Boxx’s initial effort. After she converted, the Americans held serve on the next four attempts to cash in Solo’s stop of own-goal scorer Daiane on Brazil’s third attempt.

Such an outcome might have been predicted in the rest period between overtime and penalties. As the Americans huddled excitedly, jumping and jabbering, the Brazilians sat or lay on the grass, stretching their legs, and searching for strength in their psyches they would not find.

The win moved the USA into the semifinals against France Wednesday in Moenchengladbach (kickoff: noon ET).

July 10 in Dresden
USA 2 Brazil 2 (USA wins 5-3 on penalties). Goals: own goal 2, Wambach 120; Marta pen. 68, 92.
USA --
Solo, Krieger, Buehler, Rampone, LePeilbet, O’Reilly (Heath, 108), Boxx, Lloyd, Cheney (Rapinoe, 55), Rodriguez (Morgan, 72), Wambach.
Brazil -- Andreia, Daiane, Aline, Erika, Fabiana, Formiga (Renata Costa, 113), Ester, Maurine, Cristiane, Rosana (Francielle, 85), Marta.
Red Card: USA -- Buehler 65.
Referee: Jacqui Melksham (Australia).
Att.: 25,598.

USA: Boxx (goal), Lloyd (goal), Wambach (goal), Rapinoe (goal), Krieger (goal)
BRA: Cristiane (goal), Marta (goal), Daiane (saved), Francielle (goal)
USA wins 5-3.

44 comments about "Tenacity trumps tactics for astounding USA win".
  1. Kerry Ogden, July 11, 2011 at 9:08 a.m.

    Good article, but it think it was Amy Lepeibet who gave away the 2 goals to Sweden not R. Buehler.

  2. John Munnell, July 11, 2011 at 9:11 a.m.

    Crummy soccer match...but a great contest. :-) Lost in the result is any explanation of the Cheney substitution. Rapinoe needed to be in the match, despite her weaknesses. But leaving the slower and tiring Lloyd seemed completely bizarre, when Cheney had proven capable inside earlier in the tournament. I still don't think that this is a good US team...but I am predicting a US-Sweden final.

  3. Mark Grody, July 11, 2011 at 9:54 a.m.

    Agree about the sub. Otherwise the coach did a great job. Hope she doesn't start Rodrig & France is the only team I'm worried about. The lack of speed in the back that was seen in the 1st Sweden game was improved with the switching of spots of the back line & by holding a deeper line.

  4. Heather Scott-molleda, July 11, 2011 at 10:19 a.m.

    As I predicted the wrong lesson is being learned by the ugly, dogged US win. Brazil completely outclassed the US individually and collectively, and the response in the first half was to hack the Brazilians constantly to throw them off their game. I don't blame them since that's all they've got but don't pretend that is a good way to build a program. There should have been a 2nd red for deliberate ball handling before the PK, so for all the complaints about the 'bizarre' reffing, she help the US, including by adding time to compensate for the Brazilian play acting - exactly what she was supposed to do. And you say Brazil couldn't string passes together? Really! How often did the US get more than two passes in a row? I could count on one hand. How many dangerous scoring opportunities? I counted four, and that includes the Brazil own goal. The US should be grateful Brazil choked a few times and got cocky at the end, and Hope Solo came up with big or they would be flying home right now. With a few exceptions (including Rapinoe), the US plays predictable, cookie cutter soccer and the system has failed to promote enough good new talent. Credit to them for never giving up and for their fitness, but it's nothing to celebrate.

  5. Ryan Loechner, July 11, 2011 at 10:28 a.m.

    Sorry to disagree Heather, but I do not think players acting out injuries is what they are supposed to do.

  6. Heather Scott-molleda, July 11, 2011 at 10:41 a.m.

    Sorry, I was not clear. I was referring to the ref doing what she was supposed to do, ie. adding time to thwart the Brazilian time-wasting. She added enough time in fact for the US to score.

  7. Kerry Ogden, July 11, 2011 at 11:02 a.m.

    Heather did you actually watch the game, both goals that Brazil got we given to Brazil by wrongful call's on the ref's behalf, Beuhler went for a 50/50 challege after Marta chipped the ball over both defender's, not a goal scoring opportunity by any means or a red card either, and the Line ref didn't call the offsides that lead to Brazil's second goal, well do I need to say more!!!!!! Brazil did not look the good at all!!!

  8. Kenneth Barr, July 11, 2011 at 11:07 a.m.

    This match was Brazil's to win, yet they were strangely passive in attack and seemed to tire after the Marta goal in extra time. USA was by far the fitter side and it showed with the Wambach goal at the death. Better play in the back but it still needs improvement if the cup is to be one. Buehler's suspension may be a blessing in disquise, it will force a re-organization of the defense and may necissitate a change to a 3-5-2 with Boxx sweeping. The ref was a bit too much of a factor but she got the penalty call right but the retake decision was poor. Adding three minutes was right on the mark, I had three minutes on my watch when the clock hit 120. The retake decision during the PKs was obvious. She gave a few too many cards, especially a cheapie to Solo for dissent. Hallmark has all the slaes staff they need.

  9. Heather Scott-molleda, July 11, 2011 at 11:12 a.m.

    I think you need to read Ref Watch Kerry. Buelher had a handful of Marta's jersey because she had just got burned by brilliant ballhanding (of the kind none of the US players can execute). If the foul had been on the field it wouldn't have merited any card, but because the defender "denied an obvious goal scoring opportunity" in the commission of a foul in the area (a PK), a red card is obligatory.

    I disagree about the offside, although the biased, uninformed ESPN commentators went on and on about it. The left back was keeping the Brazilian onside and Marta's brilliance again created a goal.

    And did you notice the US goals were a) scored by Brazil, and b) scored when Brazil got lazy and/or cocky and did not mark Wambach. It was a great cross and a great header, but how long is the US going to rely on one big target forward?

  10. Kim Bushman, July 11, 2011 at 11:23 a.m.

    Wow. Really diggin' the negativity after one of the all-time great U.S. wins. Would hate to read your comments had we lost.

    Good Lord, people! They got the win. I'll take that any day over style. Tournament play is about survive and advance. They did what they were supposed to do in the most surreal of circumstances. Any chance you could actually bask in the glow for 24 hours?

  11. Robin Andrews, July 11, 2011 at 11:27 a.m.

    I have to agree the commentary was rediculously bad. I usually enjoy Julie Foudy but yesterday she was awful. There were replays of Wambach diving repeatedly and there was never and comment about that. The commentators misinterpretted what was going on with the field player moving too soon and insisted that Solo was being carded for moving off the line. Darke never seemed to get what actually happened. Viewers that don't have a solid soccer background were probably confused and upset thinking the USA was getting a bad deal. How many times was the USA awarded a throw in or cornner incorrectly? 5 or 6 would be my guess yet I don't remember Brasil getting that benefit once.
    Well, the bottom line for me was that the US women are playing more and more like the US men and that stinks. Fitness, speed and constant fouls instead of ball skills and creativity. Way too much long ball. Now Wambach has taken the diving lesson that Dempsey and Donovan have given. It all makes an unattractive game. No fun at all to watch. And like the US men they got a little lucky in the end. Also Brasil didn't look as good as I expected. All in all, they won. I feel like watching was a waste of time.

  12. Eddie Rockwell, July 11, 2011 at 11:53 a.m.

    @ Heather, don't be a hater, be a congratulater (and lighten up). My team (apparently not yours) just won one of the most spectacular games in history. Was it pretty? No, it wasn't. Was it inspired and determined? Unquestionably.

  13. Dave Kantor, July 11, 2011 at 12:02 p.m.

    I've never liked Loudy Foudy's commentary - Ian Darke by himself would be great. Agree with others about the US style or lack of it. I kept screaming to "keep it on the ground", but they insisted on driving long balls and hoping someone could muscle their way on the end of it. This is how soccer is being taught here, I've witnessed it many times over while watching supposedly high level youth club games. It's kick and run all the way, very little creativity. So it's no surprise that the USWNT plays this way. The beautiful game? Fuhgedaboutit! Just win baby.

  14. Kerry Ogden, July 11, 2011 at 12:07 p.m.

    Heather, I don't rely on what the ref say's, she did a terrible job refing the game!But you could see it in plain sight that no foul was committed.Buehler placed herself between Marta and the goal after the ball was chipped over her and the defender, she then was able to make a 50/50 challenge and beat Marta fair and square! and talking about fouls inside the box, Brazil in overtime also created to fouls on US players with no PK's being given. The Better TEAM in this won, USA.

  15. Nancy Carr-swaim, July 11, 2011 at 12:23 p.m.

    The women's team did what they needed to do to win. They didn't let the officiating get to them. I coached boys' soccer for 24 years and told them when things got bad with the officials, just score more goals. Since you can't control the other team's tactics or the referees, do what you can do to control the outcome of the game. Goals are the only answer to "equalize" problems you can't control. Many games have been won in the final seconds of a match!

  16. Heather Scott-molleda, July 11, 2011 at 12:49 p.m.

    Wow, I'm amazed at how many people are STILL missing the point. The US won, barely, but do you feel good about the future? We have the oldest team in the world! Where are the young, better players and why aren't they fighting Boxx and Wambach for the starting job? Check out the U17 and U20 teams - they're not doing any better. If I were Brazilian would you feel better about way the US played? We've been beaten by Mexico, England and Sweden in the last few months and outclassed by Brazil. @Robin Andrews is absolutely right. Several of you need to learn a little about reffing and the laws of the game: the Brazilian player faked an injury and what happened to her? The ref gave her a yellow and added three minutes to the game, allowing the US to come back.
    And US defenders should not encroach during a PK - that's the law. No room for gray.

    I wanted the US to lose as they deservd to so that US Soccer would wake up and smell the coffee and stop pissing away the opportunity to have the BEST women's soccer program in the world!

    Read Chris Hummer's article for another view:

  17. Ken Sweda, July 11, 2011 at 1:13 p.m.

    Heather, you get it. And thank you for having the guts to say so. USWNT is like that corporation that just hasn't reacted to market changes. Sure, they've got a couple great moments left, but the landscape is changing, and quickly. We have a chance to avoid becoming the MNT, but we're going to miss the boat. BTW, please marry me.

  18. David Sirias, July 11, 2011 at 1:30 p.m.

    I have to agree. Celebrate but learn the lesson. We were gifted TWO goals-- the own goal and the extra time because of brazil's flopping like fish and terrible game management by their coach with an extra player for much of the time.
    We lack skill that we make up for with heart and fitness. But that is not sustainable if you want long term success. Germany learned the hard lesson. We will too, either in this cup or the next. We need much more skill and more soccer IQ and much more youth if we wish to remain an elite program.

  19. Heather Scott-molleda, July 11, 2011 at 2:01 p.m.

    Haha! Thanks for the offer Ken. And David, you said it much more succinctly than I.

  20. Stuart d. Warner, July 11, 2011 at 2:28 p.m.

    The US was dreadful offensively in the first half yesterday. Sundhage said after the match that we were playing too direct--but we weren't playing direct because the ball rarely found its target. We were bypassing the central midefielders and going over the top from defenders to our forwards and crash landing. What's bizarre about this is that given the "system" (and I use the term loosely in Brazil's case, because they are terribly coached and ornanized) the best attacks can come starting from central mid, playing out to the flanks in order to stretch their two fullbacks, and then back to the middle to expose their sweeper. Indeed, that is the logic of the goal we scored and our best attacks in the second half. I'd suggest that one reason we did better in the second half is that Boxx was no longer in the middle. Let's state it: both Boxx and Lloyd are terrible offensive players--slow afoot with little accuracy on passes (and why Boxx sticks her hand up on the offsides leaving the best player in the world unmarked is something only the gods can know). How I wish we start Lori Lindsey and get someone who can be a playmaker in the middle. Also, we should push Cheney up front, take Rodriguez out, and play Rapinoe out wide. I'm guessing LePeilbet will go central and Cox will start. Finally, the soccer France and Japan play is vastly more beautiful than the soccer we play. They will give us a handful.

  21. Kim Bushman, July 11, 2011 at 2:36 p.m.

    Yes, there are some concerns about the U.S. age, but again, people, isn't the object WINNING??????? Let's finish this tournament, hopefully by winning it. Winning the World Cup is the "King of the Hill," right?
    As I said, I agree there are some concerns going forward, but again, does winning today mean absolutely NOTHING to you people who are complaining about the future? Enjoy this, folks; we might not see it again in our lifetime. And you know what? If I see it twice in 12 years? I can live with that...

  22. Eddie Rockwell, July 11, 2011 at 2:59 p.m.

    Thank you Kim, for I too can live with winning the WWC twice in 12 years. Heather, don't think anyone is missing the point. We didn't play well. But neither did Brasil. Brasil had better players individually, but the USA was a better team. Our attacks (or lack thereof) were very frustrating and disappointing to watch - no ability to string together more than 2-3 passes. But our defense was very strong. @ David S., I disagree that we were "gifted" 2 goals - on the first one, if the defender misses, O'Reilly is on the back post & puts it in. The second, keeper makes a mistake (happens in almost every soccer game I've ever seen) & striker capitalizes (something that doesn't happen nearly as frequently). Look at Brasil's goals - one on a questionable PK that was saved & regranted. One on a pass by a player that was offside (& Boxx is IMHO, entirely to blame for that because she was so concerned about the call that she left the best player in the world alone). So, Boxx made a mistake, that according to your interpretation, means that Brasil was "gifted" a goal. Go figure. Folks, put a smile on -- we're on to the Semi's and we deserve to be there...

  23. Charles Stamos, July 11, 2011 at 3:21 p.m.

    Heather makes some good points/counterpoints, but she like most of you are biased toward one team or the other. Brazil was tactically better, the US was strategically better and fitter. Both teams benefited from fortuitous ref calls/lack of calls. Either team could have won this game, if they played again, either team could win. The result is what it is, the US won this time; accept it.

  24. Power Dive, July 11, 2011 at 4:03 p.m.

    Heather, you are clearly still missing the point. The US team just won an incredible game and are moving on to the semi-finals of the World Cup. That's the point. Great win ladies! Best of luck the rest of the way and thank you for one of the most amazing games I've ever seen.

    I honestly can't believe that people are complaining about this, that, and the other thing after such an amazing game.

    The better team on the field in Germany won yesterday. Nothing was gifted to them. The US team earned and deserved every aspect of that victory.

  25. David Huff, July 11, 2011 at 4:50 p.m.

    While aspects of the game left something to be desired, the gritty comeback was entertaining, a great clash of two current world powers. I was surprised to see Cheney subbed out while the slow and useless Lloyd was kept in, A-Rod looked out of it with her poor passing creating many turnovers. Solo was on a different planet, Rampone, Rapinoe and Krieger played very well and, to her credit, LepeilBet played much better than before. On Buehler I did not see a foul, Marta leaped up and fell down on her own as she was trying to toe poke/foot kick it in while Buehler was trying to get her foot on the ball to clear it (TIVO doesn't lie). I did not see the shirt-pull that Heather mentioned but I'll review the video again to check for that and may revise my opinion afterwards. If there is no foul, then there is no red card or PK. The PK re-take was a legitimate call due to the encroachment (which Foudy noted but disparaged nonetheless). Although I expected a lot of long-ball from the US I was surprised to see the amount of long-ball that Brasil was also playing. Also, I was surprised to see the amount of mental weakness displayed by the Brasileiras, Marta came dangerously close to earning a card for her shove/yelling at the US player and at other times seemed close to becoming unglued (perhaps she win's the Brasil equivalent of the 'Kelly Smith' award?). On the announcers, Foudy was a shameless homer and Ian Darke was just annoying with his inane observations (and please tell me why we are using English 'commentators' instead of American announcers in a sport we have dominated for decades on the women's side while the UK has been a non-factor given their inferior style of play?). Erika got what she deserved with a yellow card and added time for her unique 'Immaculate revival'. After this WC, the USWNT program needs to be considered for coaching and personnel changes in advance of the 2012 Olympics. If there is someone better than Sundhage out there it should be looked at. On personnel, its time for Boxx, Lloyd and Wambach to retire and make way for new blood. Instead of Buehler it would be nice to see someone else with a lot more speed at the centerback position which forms the critical last line of defense before things get to the GK. I would also note, to some degree of embarassment, the lack of minority representation on the all-white US roster while smaller countries such as England and France were able to do much better in this regard - for a multi-ethnic diverse nation of over 300 million people we can certainly do better than relying upon a clique player pool. It would also be nice to see Natasha Kai (who is 4 years younger than Wambach) re-instated to the team so that she can at least compete for Olympic Gold after being deprived of a spot in the WC. Being that Natasha and Cristiane are the only players in WPS history to score a hat trick (and Kai's HT from 7/6/2011 did not involve any PKs) she clearly deserves a chance.

  26. James Froehlich, July 11, 2011 at 5:17 p.m.

    Heather --I'm in total agreement on everything you said and bless you for having the guts to say it. This is America where winning is everything and winning ugly in soccer is a long standing tradition. Ric F -- I am truly disappointed! If this had been a MNT game you would have been apoplectic about the lack of skills. Little consistency please.

  27. Bruce Moorhead, July 11, 2011 at 6:19 p.m.

    As a referee, a few comments: I saw Buehler tug Marta's jersey as it happened, and thought the PK and red were likely. Going to letter of the law, the US player did encroach on the first PK attempt. Maurine was perhaps off on Marta's goal but Boxx should have defended instead of putting her hand in the air and hoping for the call. Darke and Foudy, like most announcers,embarrassed themselves with their lack of knowledge of the rules. Referee clinics should be required for all commentators. DHuff, I also would have liked Kai on the squad, and what happened to Angela Hucles, did she retire? However, its time to realize that its about WINNING, not having an ethnically diverse squad. I am tired of the race comments many make. This is not an affirmative action program. If 21 whites get us the wins, I am fine with that. If 21 blacks get us the wins, I am fine with that.

  28. Power Dive, July 11, 2011 at 6:23 p.m.

    Do people really think it takes "guts" to complain on the internet? The ladies on our national team showed what having guts is all about. The people that come on the internet to complain and muddy the amazing victory have something else entirely.

  29. James Froehlich, July 11, 2011 at 6:39 p.m.

    PD -- they certainly have guts -- they just don't have skills. People like you wouldn't recognize soccer skills if it hit you in the face!!! Go ahead and enjoy the win, even the dinosaurs had their good days before they went extinct. BTW Please no flag waving!!

  30. Power Dive, July 11, 2011 at 7:08 p.m.

    I am, and will James. I hope you can too. My comments (abbreviated) are: (1) the U.S. team earned and deserved that victory (2) using this article as a forum to voice your complaints about the team is inappropriate (3) it doesn't take guts to complain on the internet.

    Nowhere in my posts did I analyze the soccer skills of either team. However, you come to the conclusion that I wouldn't recognize soccer skills if they hit me in the face. Hopefully your ability to analyze soccer skills is better than your ability to analyze sentences.

  31. James Froehlich, July 11, 2011 at 8:05 p.m.

    PD -- I can analyze comments well enough to know that your last sentence is what is known as a "non sequitor". Look it up. And when it comes to guts, my name is on my post as was Heather's, Mr. Dive!!! The reason that soccer in the US is heading towards 3rd world status is because of the myriad of fans such as yourself who wrap themselves in the flag and ignore the selection and developmental disaster that is US Soccer. You along with many others may cheer at winning ugly, but then please refrain from ever claiming that what is being played in the US has some relationship to the "beautiful game".

  32. Power Dive, July 11, 2011 at 9:24 p.m.

    James -- your posts are filled with non sequitur comments. It's humourus that you would use that term against someone else. Again, guts has nothing to do with posting on the internet. I'm honored that you think I have such a great influence on the strategic plan of US Soccer. But, the fact of the matter is, I have zero influence. If you think that I do, or you do, you are completely delusional. Also again, you have no idea of my opinion on what constitutes "good" soccer and what US Soccer needs to do to improve. I've never expressed any such opinions to you. If you think that you can infer my preference on the strategic plan for US Soccer simply by me cheering for one of the most amazing victories in US history (any sport, any time), you are again delusional. Don't get me wrong James, I'm not against critiquing US Soccer when the time is appropriate. After the Women's Cup is over, I suggest that we have a chat about the recent Under-17 World Cup or the Gold Cup. I think we'll find that we would actually agree on many things.

  33. James Froehlich, July 11, 2011 at 9:47 p.m.

    Sorry PD -- but I'm afraid that on US Soccer we would have no agreement. However thank you for your very gracious offer -- now after all of this talk about US Soccer, I need to cleanse my palate with a la liga game.

  34. David Huff, July 11, 2011 at 9:52 p.m.

    PowerDive, if you really had "guts" as an Internet poster you would use your name as james suggests. :-) P.S. I also thought the US win was an exceptional performance,as indicated above, but there are issues to be looked at and now is a good time to at least make a start in the discussion of what is needed for the future well-being of our program. @ Bruce, thanks for the corroboration on the shirt-pull that Heather mentioned, under those circumstances then the ref call is understandable. However, I will respectfully disagree with you on the diversity issue. I understand that it is about putting together a winning squad. However, that said, I find it difficult to believe that out of a nation of 300 million we didn't have a player pool out of which players of color could make a winning squad purely based on merit. Take for example Natasha Kai, although she comes from Pacific Islander ethnicity can anyone seriously doubt her qualifications to be on the current roster? Unfortunately clique politics plays quite a role, coming from an affluent background can also help (something that Hope Solo and Natasha Kai both lacked but managed to make it anyway due to their profound skills). It is just a sad commentary on our melting-pot nation when you see these smaller countries that manage to handle the issue better with their player pool.

  35. Power Dive, July 11, 2011 at 10:29 p.m.

    DH, I see your point but still think that the term an "internet poster with guts" is an oxymoron. I like my screen name and will stick to it. In end, Power Dive will have the same meaning to you as David Huff has to me.

  36. Bill Richter, July 12, 2011 at 4:16 a.m.

    For the send off: each was pulling the others jersey, and it was a 50/50 challenge. Marta's boot got to the ball an instant before Rachel's, so the ref called against her. Many times we've seen the exact same situation result in a non-call or a call against the attacker, but it doesn't matter. It is what it is and the USA beat the Brazilians in spite of any calls the referee team may have gotten wrong on either side of the ball (witness the clear offside on Brazil's 2nd goal). That's what competitors do, they keep playing and find a way to win. Heather, I find it hard to believe you watched the match after this statement:
    "Wow, I'm amazed at how many people are STILL missing the point. The US won, barely". The US won (barely) after playing nearly half the match with one less player than the Brazilians. They had to expend more energy per player than Brazil, and tactically cover more field per capita than Brazil. Sorry they didn't win by 6 goals, but (to paraphrase you), "You do what you can with what you have".
    @ James: I suppose you think the diving by the Brazilians was beautiful football? Sorry your team lost, but they might have won if they had anywhere near the fitness necessary to win that game.

  37. Heather Scott-molleda, July 12, 2011 at 8:33 a.m.

    @David Huff - agree with nearly everything, especially on the flaws in the selection process. The lack of diversity is a symptom of that, and is the result of the selection process that is based on a "pay-to-play" format. Our system excludes vast numbers of athletes who could be developed and help the team, and US Soccer coaches don't have the wherewithal or I would say the knowledge to recognize talent when they see it so they keep picking the same types of players.
    @Power Dive - you can criticize people about guts when you start using your own name on your opinions.
    @Bill Richter - I (again) applaud our team for their guts, but you can't build a program on that. And how did that guts thing work for us in the game against Sweden? England? Mexico? As Chris Hummer said in his insightful column, we threw away our advantage in women's soccer. We should still be light years ahead and we aren't.

  38. Heather Scott-molleda, July 12, 2011 at 11:17 a.m.

    Hmm ... and Rapinoe gets it!

    “Part of the stereotype of the American game is we’re fit, we’re strong, we’re fast, we’re good athletes, but soccer around the world is evolving so much you can’t just be bigger, stronger, faster, you have to be a good soccer player,” says Rapinoe. “You have to think, you have to be intelligent with the ball.”

  39. Power Dive, July 12, 2011 at 12:46 p.m.

    Heather - I never criticized your guts or anyone elses. I merely stated that the act of posting critical comments about U.S. Soccer on a message board is not an example of having guts because it doesn't take guts to post on the internet. In real life, you might have a tremendous amount of guts and display them on a daily basis. I have no way of knowing. Hopefully that distinction is not lost.

  40. Ken Sweda, July 12, 2011 at 2:25 p.m.

    Folks, the point is the US can win every world cup from here on, if they adapt to the game the way the rest of the world is. The USWNT is the US auto industry in 1976. Nearly 25 years of crap cars, faltering market share, snickering foreign auto makers before we got back into the game. Sure we won v. Brazil. And yet, we almost didn't. We got lucky, played poorly, then found one great moment to get the job done. One great moment isn't going to do it much longer. I want to the USWNT to win every game they play, but I'll take a hard lesson now, for a lifetime of success later, just as I will for the men. We are quickly becoming the US men's team. There is a chance to avoid doing so, but unfortunately arrogance and rah-rah attitude is preventing it. Japan and France have come out of absolutely no where to compete on the world stage, and they did it in less than 8 years, and they did it by adopting the world soccer model (skill) and WITHOUT copying the USWNT. If we have it all figured out, why does no one copy us? Because they know that long term, that approach would not get them anywhere. Add this commitment to skill (again, which happened in less than 8 years) to what we already excel at (fitness, preparation, drive, belief, attitude, etc...) and we will REMAIN unbeatable long into the future. Let's look a little more longterm, people. This is not simple hating for hating's sake.

  41. Heather Scott-molleda, July 12, 2011 at 4:50 p.m.

    Ken - you said it way better than I.

  42. Claudia Helsdon, July 12, 2011 at 7:36 p.m.

    Ken, you are way off.
    You are making a distinction that is just not there. US Womens soccer has technical skill and athletics (this is why they are ranked where they are). Japan and France are making headway because they are adopting training and development techniques similar to the US Women's program.
    A team characteristics are a sum of the players attributes. Yes we have a forward that utilizes strength and size for aerial assults while teams like Brazil have a forward that is smaller and uses speed and agility. Which is better...neither. Teams need to adapt their style to the weapons they have. Its an argument over German style football versus Argentinian style.
    Marta is great, but she would not have reached the cross to head the ball in like Wombach did.
    I think a lot of soccer fans hate to see USA do well, knowing that soccer is not even one of the top three sports in it's country.
    I do think that will change, as youth soccer in America grows.

  43. Charles Stamos, July 12, 2011 at 11:01 p.m.

    OK, all of you soccer/football experts. Put your reputation on the line. Predict the scores of the semis.

    My takes:

    USA 2 France 0
    Sweden 1 Japan 0

  44. Ken Sweda, July 13, 2011 at 7:05 p.m.

    Claudia, even the homer announcers don't agree with your assessment of how the US plays and how the other nations play. There's never any talk about technical skill and real development in the US, it's all talk about how little development there really is. They frequently brought up France and Japan today specifically, as standing in direct opposition to how the US plays and trains. All the talk from the announcers is "heart, determination, mentality, direct, big body, blah blah blah." By the way it's spelled Wambach, and the misspelling is the first sign of a casual fan, sorry but it's true. Lastly, youth soccer in the US can barely grow any faster than it already is. It's enormous and dwarfs all other youth sports in this country. The problem is kids lose interest because no one makes it fun, creative and interesting for them. At the national level we're left with the mighty robots who just want to win. And you'd know this if you followed the game more closely. And the easiest way to please mommy and daddy who are paying $2000 for Janie to play soccer is to win, at all costs, as quickly and easily as possible. And that way is with size and fitness, so that persists all the way up to the Nat's because that's all we know, and those are the only ones still playing. The other nations are not copying anything about the Americans. They are doing more training in all facets of the game because they finally have some (limited) national support, but they are adopting their men's programs, not ours. Basic soccer-specific fitness, then skills, skills, skills. They're not in the weight rooms like our women are in every Nike commercial. You're sadly out of your league in this discussion. Louisa Necib has probably never spent more than 10% of her training in the weight room, but she makes our players look like U12's. Probably because our players and coaches never really progress beyond a U12 mentality.

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