Thursday, January 17, 2008

Retracing the Silk Road: Four Nations Tournament

You may remember that back in September while Mojo and I were losing one daughter and gaining another there was a little sporting event played in China. The U.S. women's national team had a pretty rough time there: losing to the eventual champions Brazil in the semifinals and, effectively, losing their coach when Greg Ryan pulled possibly the boneheaded coaching move of USWNT history, benching young keeper Hope Solo for former keeper Brianna Scurry, whose horrible outing against the cariocas contributed mightily to the team's defeat and the eventual loss of Ryan's job.

Well, the USWNT is back in China this week, playing in the Four Nations Tournament in the swingin' uptempo town of Guangzhou, the hipster capital and lead-paint emporium of Guangdong Province.

So far the results of the Pia Sundhage era look promising. Admittedly, the U.S. has pretty much owned Canada since 2003, but the 4-nil win over the CWNT yesterday looks better than the scoreline indicates.

For one thing, the four U.S. goals were scored by two players, neither of them Abby Wambach. And for another, Heather O'Reilly appears to have sparked real creativity in the U.S. midfield, especially after Lindsey Tarpley came on for Carli Lloyd in the 64th minute.

It sucks that we can't see these games anywhere - I would have loved to watch whether the U.S. midfield played as fluidly and creatively as the match report sounds. But is the game report is any hint it looks like Coach Sundhage may have the WNT headed back to the exciting style of play of the '91 era. That'd be nice.
The second game is tomorrow against Finland, the weakest of the Scandanavian sides, already wounded by a 2-nil loss to China, followed by a game I'd love to see, China, on 1/20/08.

The CW on this U.S. squad is "youth", although most of the players are returning to China after their WWC visit in September. Notably missing is former captain Kristine Lilly, whose supine performance after the Solo benching was, in my opinion, another big problem that contributed to the sad performance against the Brazilians.

And Hope Solo?

Between the uprights in Guangzhou, Solo made 6 saves and kept a clean sheet.

Somewhere in San Diego, Greg Ryan grinds his teeth wih rage. Sometimes just outlasting your rivals is the best revenge.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Can't we give Scurry a more honorable send off? She deserves more. And our national team needs to move on.