Yesterday (or rather at 2 a.m. U.S. time this morning), the American women’s team tied Portugal nil-nil in the FIFA Women’s World Cup. I’ve put the official Fox highlights below, and reporters all say this is a pretty tough break for the U.S., though the team remains in contention. From the NYT:
For more than a generation, the United States women’s national team has played out some of its best moments on the world’s biggest stages, in front of the biggest crowds in women’s soccer. World Cup finals. Olympic gold medal games. The team has, over the years, won many of those games, a long line of days to remember.
On Tuesday, though, on a chilly night in the depths of the New Zealand winter, the Americans almost endured a day they would never be able to forget.
The ending did not, in the end, go completely wrong: The United States players held on desperately to preserve a 0-0 tie with Portugal, a result that delivered them, safely but scared out of their wits, to the knockout rounds of the Women’s World Cup.
That will have to do after a game in which the United States failed to create enough scoring chances, wasted the ones it did and then flirted with catastrophe as a Portuguese shot hit the post and caromed out in second-half injury time.
The near miss was perhaps symbolic of a night that qualified as the same, of a game in which the United States, a four-time winner of the World Cup, came within inches of a stunning — and, for them, unprecedented — group-stage exit.
I haven’t been watching the games, as I have no way to do so, but the consensus I read is that the U.S. team isn’t playing up to par.
Five minutes of highlights (the U.S. is in white, Portugal in red). The Portuguese keeper made a number of good saves, and Portugal nearly scored in the 91st minute.
From Fox Sports on the U.S. performance:
But stability along the back-line is arguably the only positive Andonovski can claim from a game in which the forward-line was nearly invisible, the midfield lacked passing accuracy and the United States rarely showed it was capable of breaking down a stout Portuguese defense. This was the second straight game in which Andonovski’s 4-3-3 formation was overrun by a team with numerical advantages in midfield, which nullified the impact of midfielder Rose Lavelle, who was inserted into the starting lineup for the first time. Forwards Alex Morgan (34 touches) and Sophia Smith (36 touches) finished with fewer involvements than every other outfield starter for the USWNT in a reflection of how difficult it was for the Andonovski’s side to maintain possession both generally and, more critically, in the final third.
Yet in the end, a draw was enough. The United States has advanced to the Round of 16, where they’ll face the winners of Group G — likely to be Sweden — this weekend.
On Sunday the U.S. plays a team yet to be determined.
If you want to see goals, here’s yesterday’s victor of the Netherlands over Vietnam, a rout at 7-0.
From yahoo! sports:
The Dutch did what the U.S. couldn’t do against Vietnam and found the back of the net time and time again. The USWNT beat Vietnam 3-0 to open the Women’s World Cup; the Netherlands had topped the U.S. goal total within the first 25 minutes.
The contrasting performances of the U.S. and the Netherlands in Group E makes it credible to argue the Netherlands is the team that should be the favorite for the World Cup and not the USWNT. By winning the group, the Netherlands has an easier draw in the knockout rounds. The USWNT is likely going to play Sweden on Sunday.
And the Netherlands has simply been playing better. While the U.S. put pressure on the Dutch in the second half of their 1-1 tie, the Netherlands was better in the first half and has been the better team across its other two games. The 2019 World Cup runners-up look fully capable of making it to the final once again while the United States looks disjointed.