The author is a forward for the NWSL’s Washington Spirit. A Connecticut native who starred at Penn State, she has also played for clubs in Finland, Brazil, Sweden, Denmark and Canada. She is editor of Our Game Magazine, co-founder of a Connecticut-based youth club called girlsCAN and blogs regularly on her personal website. This being a World Cup year, we’ve asked her to submit periodic columns this summer. Her third installment:
Raise your hand if you’ve watched a women’s soccer match in the past week or so. If you’re reading this, I’ll assume your hand is raised. You can put it down now.
In the midst of group play at the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup, there is so much to talk about. If you search “Women’s World Cup” in Google, you’ll find something of interest to read or watch or listen to. Or probably some awesome meme or GIF that has nothing to do with actual soccer.
The Internet helps. Thanks, Internet. The sport has grown.
With so many things to talk about, I’ve had to narrow my list from 100 to four. Just the important ones.
No matter how hard we Americans try, when we say Le Sommer, it sounds like le summer and not smooth like when the French say it. It’s okay; we’re not supposed to be good at it. I’m sure Eugenie forgives us, so we don’t really have to try so hard anymore. Le summer. It actually means “summon.” I give up.
Célia Šašić, an intimidating name written with more accents than a ventriloquist, is spelled like it should sound like the word “basic,” but it’s more like “sausage.” So everyone is just going around thinking there’s a German with the last name “sausage.”
Okay, now that we’ve cleared up the names …
Hey everyone, I know it seems harsh and almost inhumane to miss a game if you accumulate two yellow cards during group play, the round of 16 and quarterfinals, but here’s an idea: play clean. I think it’s a great idea by FIFA to tighten up the rules this way. The turf isn’t as safe as we’d like it to be, so if we can keep the players a little more honest, there will be fewer injuries. A slide tackle from behind on an artificial surface can make for an unexpected and possibly dangerous result.
Players just need to move their feet more on defense, and not elbow people in the face as much and maybe not kick the ball away after a foul is called against them. These are good things.
I’ve been taught that you’re only as good as your last match. Let’s go by that criteria and not what teams (and players) have done in the past.
With that said, I enjoyed watching Ivory Coast. The Germany game could have easily been 6-3 or 5-2 or something not as intense as 10-0. Of course, there are details the newcomers need to improve, such as finishing chances, being organized on set pieces and managing games, but I’m not convinced Germany was 10 goals better than Ivory Coast.
The United States has some of the best players in the world, the best resources, spends the most time together training and is compensated better than any other team in the world. Our bench can beat many national teams. But I wouldn’t know that just by watching the past two games. Sweden was close to stealing three points, if not for late-game heroics by Meghan Klingenberg and an impressive backline performance throughout the game. But as Americans, we’re not into ties (no other sport here will end a game in a tie), we’re not into almost, we want to win and look good while doing it.
Also, it’s been said the tournament is less competitive because of the expanded field. I disagree. By allowing new teams such as Thailand and Ecuador, we also allow teams such as Switzerland, Netherlands and Spain. These teams have been competing against the best in the world for years, in qualifying, in Euros and include some of the best players in the world we don’t often get to see play. The tournament is competitive. The teams are doing fine. Remember last summer in the men’s tournament when Germany beat Brazil, 7-1. Maybe Brazil should sit the next one out.
Instead of using the word “strong” to describe a player, why don’t we talk about the qualities that make them “strong”? I have read that Team A is a strong team, Player A is a strong attacking player and Player B is a strong defensive player. What does that mean?
Does she make runs off the ball that unbalance the other team’s defense? Can she shoot from distance? Does she get her head on anything in the box? Show me with your words. The game is intricate; the way we talk about it should be too.
Other than those things, we can all agree there have been some special moments during this World Cup. In no particular order:
— Vicky Losada’s turn and strike for Spain against Costa Rica.
— Nigeria praying in celebration after the tying goal against Sweden.
— Thailand’s goalkeeper stretching an Ivory Coast player who was cramping.
— Klingenberg heading the ball off the line against Sweden (Kristine Lilly-esque).
— Maren Mjelde’s free kick against Germany … not only because it was as perfect as you could hit a free kick, but because Norway tied the top team in the world with that goal.
— Colombia upsetting France, 2-0, for its first-ever World Cup victory.
There are lots of other items that could be on this list and even more ahead. To know the best is yet to come is what makes this tournament so exciting. Pressure will grow. Quality will increase. And players will continue to go after a dream that’s so elusive.