Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Women's World Cup - U.S. vs Colombia

The sky is falling!

The sky is falling!

The sky is...wait, what?  They won? So why is everybody acting like they lost?

They only scored two goals? With a man advantage for the entirety of the second half?

Maybe it's because it's hard to get into any kind of damn rhythm when you keep getting fouled, but none of them are called and the only calls that were whistled were against the United States.  I'm not a conspiracy theorist, but does anybody else find it amazingly convenient that the only two American players coming into the game with yellow cards have such "horrendous" fouls that they both get booked IN THE FIRST HALF!  By a ref whose native country (France) could potentially see the United States in the semi-final...  I'm just saying.

22 to 12.  That was the fouls called count.  I watched the game and that was not how I saw the game. Just because a player falls, it doesn't mean they were fouled. Even my 7 year old asked why some fouls were called and others were not. Cards for the U.S. that looked exactly like non-calls for Colombia.  I'm just saying...

I'll agree that this is not the prettiest of soccer from the USWNT. I'm not sure why Heath, the right winger, spent so much time in the middle of the field. Colombia clogged the middle with numbers so the flanks were always open. That could have been attacked better. I'm starting to see people's point about set pieces when Wambach is in that they might not normally do with her out, but between her and Julie Johnston, they make a formidable pair in the air.

Cat Whitehill wanted to see a "statement" game out of the U.S. Her "statement" game apparently consisted of a 3-0 win or more. What I think she got was a gritty, grind-it-out and advance statement from the U.S. against a team that had some nice segments and possession, but ultimately never really tested the goal.  Everybody wants to see the U.S. score a lot of goals, but the way the defense and Solo are playing, it may not take a lot to win.

Let's talk about the goal scoring for a minute in this tournament.  The narrative today has been that the U.S. only scored 2 (one from the penalty spot, that could have been two (or more depending on your opinion of the Rapinoe fouls)), while France and Germany scored 3 and 4, respectively.  Guess what other teams scored multiple goals in the Round of 16; England (2).  Four games out of the 15 played had multiple goal scorelines.  So how did everybody look in the group stages? I think you have to throw out Germany's 10 goal effort against Thailand and everybody in Group C's effort against Ecuador as being anomalies. If you do that, high scorer in each group looks like this:
  • Group A was China with 3, 
  • Group B had Germany had an adjusted 7 or 8 and Norway 8 (who also put a 4-spot on Thailand), 
  • Group C had Cameroon with 9 and Switzerland with 11 (10 of which came against Ecuador)
  • Group D had 3 of the 4 teams with 4 goals (and Nigeria with 3)
  • Group E was Brazil and Korea with 4 goals
  • Group F was France with 6, England and Colombia with 4
The high scorers in the group have fared as follows in the Round of 16:
  • China - 1
  • Germany - 4
  • Norway - 1
  • Cameroon - 0
  • Switzerland - 0
  • Australia - 1
  • Sweden - 1
  • Brazil - 0
  • Korea - 0
  • France - 3
  • England - 2
  • Colombia - 0
Goals are hard to get as you progress in the World Cup and the U.S. hasn't allowed a goal since the 27th minute mark in the Australia game (the U.S.'s first game of the tournament).  Colombia had two shots on goal and I wouldn't say that either of those were very threatening.  Two goals by the U.S. was a good result for this stage of the tournament.

I'm not worried yet.  I was nervous during the game considering how how many dives the Colombia team was taking and that it could have resulted in other undeserved cards or a set piece near goal, but I'm not nervous yet for the long-term.  It's going to be interesting to see how the lineup gets changed for the game against China with Rapinoe and Holiday out, but this team's depth has always been a strong suit of this team.  It could be the perfect time to switch the tactics to include another forward and let them attack the China defense with abandon and clear out some of the space in what could be a crowded midfield again.  Though I think I said that before the Columbia game too.

The sky's not falling yet.  That's just the sound of high expectations.

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