Wednesday, July 1, 2015

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

When Carli Lloyd gets on a goal-scoring streak, the goal must seem like it's twice as big for her.  While her 69th minute goal was from the penalty spot, there was no doubt about it.  Even if Angerer had chosen to dive the correct way, there was enough pace on Lloyd's strike that I don't think Angerer would have saved it.  Then she turned around 15 minutes later, made a defender miss, went end-line, and served up a perfectly placed ball at the 6-yard line for second half substitute Kelly O'Hara to effort her way to her first international goal. After the game, O'Hara indicated that she saw the pass go into Lloyd and thought that it might come across the goal face and knew she needed to get there to try and make a play on it. For a player who played every minute of the 2012 Olympics, but has struggled to see playing time recently, she's the poster child of the depth and desire of this American team. Get your chance and make the most of it.

Alexi Lalas has repeatedly said that Julie Johnston is his MVP of the American team during this World Cup tournament, but I disagree.  It seems like every recent tournament has produced a "break-out" player and Johnston certainly fits that description for this tournament. She's a beast and I think the center-back position is in good hands moving forward as Rampone is likely to retire. I also don't think it's Rapinoe nor Lloyd who are the MVP and have seemingly done most of the scoring in this tournament.


Sauerbrunn is my MVP. It seems to me that Sauerbrunn is the foundation for a defense that has not given up a goal in 513 minutes (and counting). In a game pitting #1 (Germany) vs #2 (U.S.), the top scoring offense (Germany) in the tournament vs the top scoring defense (U.S.) in the tournament, the defense won and won soundly.  The pundits and hacks (I'm looking at you US Today writers) may say that the ref gifted the United States two breaks (more on those in a minute), but the United States was the better team during the game. For me, that all results from a confidence that the defense is going to play well and that starts with Sauerbrunn.  She may not win any MVP awards, but her leadership is the key to that scoreless streak.

Now about the two PKs.

Yes, Johnston pulled down Popp. Yes, it was deserving of a yellow and a penalty kick. I don't think, however, it was deserving of a red because I think refs are discouraged from double-penalizing a team. The yellow and PK penalized Johnston and the U.S., but a red card would have doubled that call by also forcing the team to play a player down. It may not be a popular decision, but I believe it was the correct one to penalize the way it was done.

Morgan's PK was close.  It's the assistant referee's responsibility to help the head referee determine whether the player was in the box or not, especially if the referee is blocked.  By the replays I saw, the foul was close enough to the line that from the two ref's angles, it likely looked like it occurred within the box. You don't like to award a PK if it isn't deserved, but it didn't appear that Morgan flopped and a lot of times that call with go to the offensive player. Missed calls can be debated forever and with the benefits of replays and a dozen camera angles, we forget that there are only four sets of eyes that have the final say.

The USWNT played a great game against a great opponent and deserved to be in the Final. They'll likely be favored against Japan in a rematch of the last World Cup Final, but without the "team of fate" label associated with the Japan team. Should make for an interesting game though.

I'm predicting 2-0 United States.

No comments: