Alex Morgan in top shape. Women’s league competition in full gear.
While reading the reports of the soccer guru’s about the women’s soccer world cup final this morning, it saw myself forced to write a few words about a sport still most Americans don’t understand. That includes, as sad as it is, a group of people that should actually focus on soccer education while reporting on important soccer events. I am talking about some soccer journalists. They wear titles like “12 year veteran of the American soccer beat” and “Best Football writer” and other. I do understand that not every article can be as good as the other, but when it comes to writing about important events, you need to know what you are talking about and be aware of the consequences your article might have. Here is an example: If I am a Plumber and have to educate a group of medical students on heart surgery, there might be a catastrophe luring for the doctors association.
If you want to educate people on soccer, or inform, you must know what you are talking about. The game between the U.S. and Japan yesterday was one of the most intriguing soccer games Continue reading
What a game! The Women Soccer World Cup Final 2011 was an incredible game. Everyone that saw the game today went from one emotional outbreak to another. Pain, disappointment and excitement turned into joy, early celebrations, outbreaks of pride and all the way back to the beginning. At the end, we all sat there with an open mouth and couldn’t believe what just happened.
After two hours of world class soccer and a stunning pk shoot-out, Japan was the new World Champion. For those holding it with the U.S. women, heaven appeared to come down and excitement turned into disbelieve. Those that were holding it with the Japanese were ecstatic Continue reading
A day after the sensational game against Brazil soccer’s all-day business sets in. While the fans are still celebrating, the players now face the challenge to settle down and focus on the next task. It is a difficult one.
A game such as the one against Brazil is difficult to top. Performing for 123+ minutes on the highest level is difficult enough, to take the performance to the next game is actually much more difficult. The catch is, the U.S. have to manage the task. Wednesday’s game against France won’t be easier. For those that haven’t caught up to the events in Germany, the competition became much more tight. France is one of the teams that have entered the world stage and they are eager to show they can do more. Over are the group games, every mistake is capital punishment. Ask the Germans, they know what I am talking about.
With all the red flags going up, I still trust that the U.S. women will manage this challenge as well. The top players, Hope Solo and Abby Wambach, have showed me that they are completely focused on this tournament and are prepared for everything. If they manage, and I am sure they will, to lead the team on the field again, we will enjoy a World Cup final with U.S. participation. Good luck, girls.
Was it so impossible to lose against Sweden? Not in my opinion. Not that the Swedish ran and played everyone into the ground before, but they are a strong team with lots of abilities, especially when they have nothing to lose. Somehow I am convinced they will look just half as good against the Australian Matildas. Besides that, it was clear from the first game actually, that the favorites might face some stiff resistance in their efforts to go through to the final. The Germans didn’t play like a Champ in their first two games, Brazil didn’t look like they would roll over everyone in the first game as well. And the U.S. already had a good portion of luck in the first game against North Korea. A surprise? Not really.
In my opinion, the competition in women soccer has very much improved and the “smaller” teams are catching up. Norway had to pack up after losing to Australia. Remember, that’s the fist time that Norway didn’t make it beyond the group stages. Some results in the group stages clearly demonstrated that there is a movement in women soccer. The best thing about that, it is great for women soccer.
Sure, as a fan of the U.S. one would prefer to see the others struggling, but wait. The tournament is not over yet. Others might face much worse than losing out on a group game. For example, Brazil. How about that? Brazil going home after the quarterfinal because of the same reasons the U.S. and Germany found themselves in trouble. Some people have created a game fixture not only for the group stages, but also well beyond. It doesn’t work like that in soccer. Every World Cup has its own dynamics and everything is possible. The times that favorites in women soccer go untouched into the semi finals are over. The interesting games, by names, are now happening a round earlier. When the women’s world cup one day starts with the same number of teams like the men, this might even happen two rounds earlier. Get ready for that.
In my opinion, while losing, the U.S. played a great game. They pressured, they created chances, everyone was on top or close to playing on top of their game. Look at poor Amy LePeilbet. I don’t think she played a bad game. What was she supposed to do in that situation that led to the PK? In my opinion she actually did very well and almost got the ball, without creating a clear case for a red card. Yes, it was a red card, just by rule, but in this case she got credit from the referee. What could she do at the second goal? What could anyone do about that second goal? A silly foul that led to the free kick? Keep in mind, we saw a great and fast game by two great teams, fouls happen.
I am not worried about the Brazil game. The Sweden game makes me confident that the U.S. is ready and able to beat Brazil. As a matter of fact, I am sure that the U.S. is going to win. Somehow my common soccer sense tells me the U.S. is the better team. Also, Brazil didn’t have enough trouble yet and I don’t think they can get themselves out of serious trouble such as the U.S. women. We will see.
The FIFA Women’s Soccer World Cup is in its full swing and the tournament has its scandalous “moments”. Australia played Equatorial Guinea and the game produced one of the most scandalous referee decisions in soccer history. See the video:
Like the commentator, I don’t know what to say. While it can happen that a referee can’t see a situation that occurs within a split of a second, this one is impossible not to see. What in the world were the officials thinking? After the game, FIFA was talking about an “episode” about a handball. And the referee is very sorry about it. Well, there is not much more to do at this point. What happens with the referee in the up coming games has to be seen. The end result of this game and the result of the Brazil – Norway game make further steps and speculations un-necessary, thank God. The Matilda’s won anyway and Brazil’s brush-up of Norway put the goal differential in Australia’s favor. This bizarre situation has no influence on the further outcome of the group play.
Brazil’s win over Norway had its own discussion about the first of three Brazil goals. Marta, Brazil’s superstar, clearly fouled the Norwegian defender before taking off to score the first goal. While not as obvious as the handball situation of the Australian game, it was a clear foul and the game should have been interrupted and continued with a Norwegian free kick.
The tournament produced some real good soccer to this point. It can be expected that the games get even better and more dramatic during the last group games and the knock-out stages. The same can’t be said about the referee’s. The referee’s in women soccer have the same problem as their colleagues in men soccer. The selection process is the same and can’t keep up with the development of the game. FIFA has this strange quota regulation by that referee’s from weaker soccer countries have to get the same number of games as those that come from the better soccer countries. While one can see the goodwill in this process, it hurts the game. It is almost ridiculous to make everyone believe that a referee from Mali or Hungary has the same exposure to the game as a referee from the U.S. or Germany. This is an issue FIFA needs to address in order to avoid embarrassing “episodes” as seen today.
In order to further improve referee quality, FIFA needs to find a way to make the ref business available for ex-players. It is a joke that a long time world class soccer player has no chance to have a career as a referee. An experienced soccer player can judge certain situations just by experience. The situation around Marta and Brazil’s first goal against Norway is an example for such. It is clearly an advantage to know the players mind in many situations. Since FIFA currently has many issues to fight, it cannot be expected that any change will occur soon, so we will have to live with some controversy on the field as well as off the field.
France won the World Cup opener against Nigeria and confirmed their ambitions in this World Cup. The French controlled ball and opponent and were never in danger of losing that control. France will meet Canada on Thursday, June 30th.