Norway 2, USWNT 0. The laments and wailing, the recriminations, the rending of clothes and gnashing of teeth have all begun and will continue until the USWNT plays like they can. Norway did it to us again … or perhaps more accurately, we did it to ourselves. According to many on-line pundits, the US program is dead and buried, Pia is on her way back to Sweden, and the WPS is going to flounder before it even starts. This is all based on a game that started with two bad miscues and, beyond that, pretty much ended in a tie.
I’m not saying that it was a good game – but for a team that had recently lost its dominant striker (the one that the team’s offense had been built around for the past 4 years) … and arguably its dominant player – I thought they battled well. I’m not excusing or ignoring or explaining away the miscues … they happened and the US looked silly. But to be down 2-0 within the first 5 minutes, without Abby and with the memory of the 2007 World Cup match with Brazil still-to-be-exorcised, I thought they did a pretty good job holding it together on the pitch and not letting things get any worse from that point on.
I thought it pretty darn cosmic that the first goal was on a miscue between Hope and her defense, and I am sure that the karmic irony is not lost on Hope … or Brianna Scurry … or anyone else on that squad. One analysis that I read put both goals on Hope (Kate Markgraf’s error notwithstanding). I’ll have to re-watch the game to see what I think.
Pia’s got her hands full, I imagine – getting everyone regrouped and figuring out her strategy for the upcoming match with Japan. The USWNT didn’t look organized or fired up in the Norway game. While that may be explicable under the circumstances, it’s worrisome. The center midfield, in particular, seemed weak – the team lost its shape much too easily – and the tendency of the USWNT to revert to booming the ball was an unfortunate hallmark of the match. I think the loss of Chalupny was another blow to the already-reeling team – and really hope she’ll be able to come back and play on Saturday.
You can’t change a team’s ethos in 7-months … but Pia seemed well on her way to making inroads. They’ve got to regroup and come up with a game plan that allows them to continue on their new path. Particularly now, with Abby gone, “boom ball” is a fruitless tactic. They can get it done. Let’s go, guys!