July 18th, 2011
Weekend Results: Loud, Quiet, Loud
Uh-may-zing. The Japanese WNT win the FIFA Women’s World Cup. Image: Getty Images/Daylife
Thank heavens for the WWC. For the players’ obvious joy at simply being there. For the quality of the football, which has surpassed expectation over and over again. For the competitiveness and work ethic of each side, that made each fixture thrilling and unpredictable. For episodes of gamesmanship, diving, arguing and bitching from the players being so few and far between that when they did occur, we could simply dismiss them as the exception that proves the rule.
It’s reminded us why we love this darn game so much in the first place. You?
Hope haz the sadz. Images: Getty Images/Daylife
Women’s World Cup
Anyone who has followed the progress of Japan through the Women’s World Cup finals will not be surprised to learn they lifted the trophy last night, beating the USA 3-1 on penalties (2-2 aet) and becoming the first Asian nation to win the tournament. The Japanese WNT are not a force in global football, but they are organised, capable and play to a tightly constructed gameplan without deviation or distraction. This was a tournament won on discipline.
It seemed fitting therefore, that they should meet the USA in the final; another side who got through with gritted teeth and reserves of guile rarely seen on a footie pitch. Indeed, after beating Brazil in the quarters and efficiently dispatching France in the semis, the USA were the favourites by a mile.
For this reason alone, it should have been a boring game. We’re used to boring games in major finals, after all. But with remarkably cheery referee Bibiana Steinhaus kicking off proceedings with a mad grin that rarely left her face, the first half was played out with caution interspersed with solid chances. The USA demonstrated a good eye for goal, the Japanese tempered play with long periods of possession. Indeed, it took 69 minutes for Megan Rapinoe’s persistent crossing to pay off; Alex Morgan scoring off a long ball, but Japan hit back within 15 minutes, levelling the game. Extra time ensued, Abby Wambach scored her fourth of the tourney but Japan’s own version of the US heroine, Homare Sawa, forced penalties with a 117th minute equaliser.
Having failed to score from the first two spot kicks, it was Abby Wambach’s commitment and drive kept the USA dream alive for a little longer – her penalty shot would have probably killed ‘keeper Ayumi Kaihori if she had attempted to save it – but the result was inevitable by that point. Saki Kumagai scored the winner, the entire Japanese nation spilled their beverages and the rest is history.
Congrats, Japan. There aren’t many people who are going to wake up this morning and not feel you deserved this.
Woah. Those are some upsetting tights, Fernando Muslera. Cheers for giving us a good old look at ‘em, Higgy. Image: Reuters/Daylife
Okay, that was the loud bit. Now we shall quietly mention that Argentina were knocked out of the Copa America tournament on penalties by Uruguay. The game finished 1-1, with goals from Diego Perez and Gonzalo Higuain, assists by Diego Forlan and Leo Messi respectively. Perez was sent off for his second yellow card a half hour later, but Argentina were unable to exploit their advantage before Javier Mascherano was sent off just before the final whistle.
If it wasn’t going to be Messi who missed a penalty (considering the speculation around his future with the NT, the press would have loved that) it had to be Corinthians-bound Carlos Tevez. Now he can add his home nation to Manchester as part of a list of places he will not be welcome in the future. For their part, Uruguay scored all their pens and progress to the semis.
Their opponents will be Peru, who struggled against Colombia in normal time but put away the fixture in extra-time via goals from Carlos Lobaton and Juan Vargas. Remember, it might look like a one-sided semi-final, but as with the WWC, this tourney has really opened up over the last few days. And Peru only qualified as a best-of-the-rest team. Anything could happen.
At last! Thank you, Paraguay’s Nelson Valdez. At least someone remembers what the hell they’re on a football pitch for. Image: Reuters/Daylife
Oh. And even more quietly. Brazil are out after failing to convert any of their penalty shootout opportunities after a snooze-worthy 0-0 draw against Paraguay. To be honest, aside from congratulating Paraguay on their amazingingness at getting through to the semis, we feel that football itself would benefit from glossing over Brazil’s performance in this whole tournament. We’re doing you a favour.
Meanwhile, Paraguay will play Venezuela; the only team able to progress without the need of extra time or spot kicks. Oswaldo Vizcarrondo and Gabriel Cichero ended Chile’s dreams, and the minnows’ presence in the semis seems to sum-up this tournament beautifully. Just… strange.
Pre-season Friendly : LA Galaxy 1-4 Real Madrid
New daughter? Yep, me too. Brilliant, isn’t it? Images: Reuters/Daylife, Getty Images/Zimbio
Goals from Jose Callejon, Joselu, Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo succinctly articulated the gulf in class between LA Galaxy and Real Madrid, as the two sides played out a 4-1 friendly at the LA Coliseum on Saturday night.
Indeed, although it was pretty cool to see some masculine finery on the pitch during the off-season, we must confess to being slightly distracted by Davey B’s pink boots, worn in honour of new daughter Harper Seven. The man knows how to manipulate our emotions, if nothing else.
We want your highlights of the WWC, thoughts on the madness that is the Copa America, and anything else you deem noteworthy on this Monday morning. Hit it, Kickettes.