Friday, January 18, 2008

Retracing the Silk Road 2: USWNT v Finland

No surprise: the U.S. women's national team beat Finland 4-1 today in Guangzhou.Again, the match report suggests that the entire team contributed to the barrage of shots - 19 to the 4 the Finns managed to produce - and goals: two by Lindsey Tarpley and one each by Lauren Cheney and Portland's own Angie Woznuk. Abby Wambach, clearly instructed to change her play from the "target man" style favored by Greg Ryan, assisted on both of Tarpley's goals! Another bright spot - again - for the U.S. was Heather O'Reilly, whose hard work on the right outside midfield won many of the U.S. 16 corner kicks.

So it's down to 90 minutes against China on Sunday. Great work, good soccer (from the game report, anyway) from the U.S. gals, and a promising start to Coach Sundhage's tenure in the USWNT job.Only one problematic note. The match report comments that: "In the second half Finland gave the U.S. a scare, cutting the lead in half in the 54th minute on a rare foray into the USA’s defensive third. The ball ended up at the feet of Essi Sainio just inside the penalty box at the right of the arc, and her spinning shot squirted through U.S. goalkeeper Briana Scurry’s hands and into the net, giving Finland its first goal against the USA since 1999 and only its second-ever score in 13 all-time meetings."

Keep in mind: the Finns had only four shots on Scurry, only three on goal, and of the three one went in. Through her hands - a cardinal sin for a keeper.

I'm trying to stay objective in the Scurry-Solo issue. But it looks less like a contest and more like a script. The veteran grimly hanging on, the rookie showing increasing poise and skill. I feel for Scurry - she was a great keeper - but the results look more and more telling. Soon...if not now, then, will be time for her to go.


Anonymous said...

I agree about Scurry. It would be sad for her to leave the game on the down side. She has served her team and country well.

I wonder why she is even on the roster. The USC keeper or the Portland keeper would have really added to the game.

Maybe they are trying to let Brianna figure this out for herself. It must be really tough for her.

FDChief said...

No athlete wants to face up to the erosion of his/her game: the veteran player grimly hangs on, fighting off the young stud(ette)s - it's an everyday reality -that's why it's a sports cliche'.

Under normal circumstances this would not be a bad roster decision. A young keep usually benefits from the game-wisdom of the veteran, who's seen every corner, every attack, every striker a dozen times.

But I agree that this is an oddity. After September the relationship between Solo and Scurry has to be...ummm...frosty is the most charitable description I can come up with. I have a hard time picturing Solo sitting patiently at the feet of the master soaking up keeper wisdom, or Scurry selflessly tutoring her replacement.

One of the first things coach Sundhage needs to do is resolve this situation, and, sad as it will be, I believe that will include dropping Scurry.

One huge complication is that, unlike a player cut from the MNT, there's nowhere for Scurry to "go" - she doesn't have a club to play for, there's no chance for her in the's over for her. After a great career, that will be a very sad day.