U.S. Women into World Cup final

14 Jul

I haven’t written about the Women’s World Cup at all and frankly, that’s pathetic because the tournament deserves coverage.  Anyways, the U.S. will play Japan in the final on Sunday.  The U.S. defeated France, 3-1, in the first semi and Japan picked apart Sweden by the same scoreline.  It should be quite the interesting final as Japan dominated host and two-time champ Germany in the quarterfinals and also controlled the semi against Sweden.  The Japanese have clearly shown they belong in the final and the U.S. will have a tough time defending their possession game.

Here are some keys to a U.S. win on Sunday:

1. Continue to take advantage of chances – The U.S. was outshot by France, 25-11, in the semifinal on Wednesday.  The French also tallied eight shots on goal to the USA’s five.  The main difference?  The U.S. put the ball in the back of the net on three of the five attempts at goal.  The French had one.  The U.S. also had five shots on goal against Brazil and converted two of them.  With the way Japan plays, I would think the Red, White and Blue will have limited chances in the final as well.  They just need to take advantage of them and having players like Abby Wambach up front definitely help their cause.

2. Improved ball control – The U.S. needs to do a better job of controlling the ball through the midfield.  There were too many chances for France after a poorly placed pass out of the back.  The U.S. struggled to string passes together and they will face a similar battle against Japan.  The Japanese like to play possession soccer, but the U.S. is capable of doing it too as long as they can hold onto the ball for more than three seconds and make smarter decisions.

3. Smart defense – It will be vital for the U.S. to play tough defense on Sunday.  The majority of the shots the French took on Wednesday came from outside the box and while those can be tough for a keeper, you know she’d rather face shots from outside the 18 than the six-yard box.  It will also be important for the defense to be able to clear the ball out of danger immediately.  Japan will pounce on misplayed balls (like the long lob into the goal after Sweden’s goalie came too far out OR Sawa’s header after the ball was bouncing around in the box) and the U.S. will not be able to afford costly turnovers.

Both teams are coming in full of confidence after gutsy performances in the quarters and semis.  It should be a fantastic game as the U.S. team tries win its first title since the famous 1999 shootout and Japan looks to win its first-ever title and inspire a nation still dealing with the effects of the tsunami earlier this year.  There will be a lot of pressure on both sides and the team that can handle it the best will walk away with the trophy.

My prediction: USA 3, Japan 2 in extra time

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One Response to “U.S. Women into World Cup final”

  1. mintox July 15, 2011 at 2:24 am #

    In response to your points

    1. The US got a chance earch by catching the French team out before they settled. Their last goal was very much scored when France were pressing forward to equalise and abandoning their discipline of earlier in the game. That’s not to say that the goals are less valued, it’s just to throw up the question of what happens if Japan stick to their disciplined game plan (as has been the case for most of this tournament)?

    2. I don’t think that the US has much hope of controlling the midfield. Simply put, they’ve dominated Womens football because they’re better at longer passes than everyone else and haven’t had to develop a short passing game. Now though, teams like France, Australia and Japan are relying on a shorter passing game and it’s showing these older Anglo styled teams up. Shorter passing requires quick and sharp movements and it’s just not in the nature of the USA to do that.

    Having said that, England beat Japan in the group stages by kicking the crap out of Japan and if the US follow this method they they will probably win. I just hope that they don’t.

    The only other alternative is to use their height and hoof the ball out.

    3. You’re spot on, the defence will have to be compact and on their toes or Japan will tear them apart.

    In the US’ favour is the fact that they SHOULD finish the game stronger. So it will be interesting.

    My prediction is that if the US want to win, they need to hold out till half time and score after half time, that way you dont give Japan time to get their rhythm AND the US can finish the stronger.

    Japan have to basically stop the US from scoring cos if they can do that, I have no doubt that Japan can win.

    My prediction is 2-1 to Japan.

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