Let's start with some basics. You must, must, must bury your chances. Lauren Cheney, Abby Wambach, Carli Lloyd, Megan Rapinoe, Heather O'Reilly, and to a much lesser extent, Tobin Heath; this game should've been 3-0 USA in the 22nd minute. The one blameless soul in the attack is probably Alex Morgan, who scored one of the two goals and created the other by, essentially, bouncing a ball off of Abby Wambach's head.
USWNT did a fairly good job of disrupting Japan's possession game, but a terrible job of finishing and defending. The choke job at the end is almost irrelevant, because this should've been a dreary and unexciting affair.
It's also basic that Japan played well, something the relentlessly jingoistic and stupid ESPN broadcasting crew doesn't seem to be handling well, able only to babble about the earthquake. Japan's game all through the tournament, knocking off one heavyweight after another, has been to do enough in possession to take advantage of enough necessary moments of brilliance or felicity to do the job. That USWNT let Japan into position to do that is their shame; that Japan, a very skilled, superbly technical, and extremely well-coached team, did it is their beauty and their glory.
I have a lot to say, but I find that's the important part, and the rest of what I have to say is not very nice. I started bitching about Rachel Buehler in print in the footnotes here, but she never should've been in the middle of our defense. BFF complained about Krieger's role in the first equalizer, but who the fuck expects a world-class center back to clear it across the goal mouth to another back in the goal mouth? Buehler is the primary reason the US defense is so fucking slow, so easily picked apart by speed; I'm no Christie Rampone fan, but seriously? A 36-year-old Rampone is less of a liability than Buehler. That's appalling at the national level.
I credited Pia Sundhage in that footnote with being a world-class coach, and of course, she is. But I've had misgivings about her player selection all along. Can I actually sit here and gloat that I'm right and she's not? Of course not. And if Bob Bradley's still the men's coach, Pia certainly deserves to remain as the women's. But damn...I'd really like to be able to find in my heart that I can be fair to her right now. I can't.
Finally: ESPN is horrible. Julie Foudy is dreadfully stupid. She says shit just to say shit, then later says the exact opposite. I think I agreed with her maybe four times in the...Jesus, was it a dozen games I watched with her and Ian Darke broadcasting? In the same span, I said, no less than sixty times, "Jesus Christ, Julie Foudy is fucking stupid."
For reals? Congrats to Japan. Very, very well played. As for our women...thanks for playing. I'm sure whatever I say about it is nothing compared to what you're doing to yourselves right now.
My Scandinavian Adventure: Iceland—The Ring Road
18 hours ago