Friday, September 14, 2007

2007 FIFA Women's World Cup Running Diary: US 2, Sweden, 0

Yes, I have returned in full bright-eyed and bushy-tailed for this second early-morning World Cup match with a little more sleep this time around.

But before I get started, I wanted to inform you of a troubling mini-sequence of ominous events that unfolded Monday morning, less than 24 hours before the proceedings in China.

Exhibit A: Only a few short hours before dawn, I was awakened to the sound of something crashing near me in my bedroom. I jumped to see what it was, but due to overall lethargy, I quickly dismissed it and went back to bed.

In the morning, I discovered the mystery: my 2007 US Women’s National Team calendar had fallen to the floor after the nail that supported it failed.

Exhibit B: Minutes after replacing the nail and putting the calendar back up, I was sitting at the computer, munching away at my Honey Nut Cheerios. Then, I heard muffled gagging about ten yards behind me. What was it?

It was my cat, Penelope, coughing up a hairball…on my laptop. The same laptop I would use to diary the WNT match the next morning.

So there’s the background of a little sinking feeling I had prior to Tuesday’s match.


3rd minute: Sweden attacking early. Three corner kicks in three minutes for Sweden already. At this rate, they will record an astonishing 90+ corner kicks, which would probably be some sort of World Cup (Men’s or Women’s) record. The US is already being outplayed, to say the least.

Side note 1: Lineup changes from last game – Tarpley for O’Reilly, and Osborne for Boxx. Also a different formation. Today it’s a 4-3-3 rather than a 3-4-3. Oh, and it’s not pouring outside this time.

Side note 2: Eyes don’t sting as much, although it is 5:01am ET and I am wearing a women’s jersey….a Carli Lloyd US Women’s National Team jersey! Make a long-storu short from my previous diary, the online storefront that botched my order apparently got it right, and the jersey arrived late-Tuesday. This is a good omen.

4th minute: Fourth corner for Sweden already. C’mon (U.S.) Ladies!

6th minute: Sweden is playing a 4-4-2. It should also be noted that they are a cuter team than North Korea – which may play to our advantage.

6th Minute: “Jingle bells” melody being overheard in the background? What? It’s not Christmas yet!

7th Minute: US threatens when my jersey’s namesake - Carli Lloyd – flicks a shot on the doorstep of the goal and takes out Swedish keeper Hedvig Lindhal. Carli – you’re my girl!

6:08am ET: Still dark outside. No oatmeal this time for yours truly. In order to avoid any sort of jinx from last match, I’m going with Apple Crunchies, the generic brand of Apple Jacks that can be found at Target for $1.67 a box.

10th minute: Julie Foudy states that US playing very vertical (aka Route 1 ball). I concur

12TH minute: Stat box indicates that the US has never had 2-game winless streak in World Cup play. Almost on cue, the US pressures, but no shots unleashed. Now the banter begins of the US not advancing past group play…wow, this is new.

13Th minute: Christie Rampone snuffs out a quick Swedish attack. She’s quietly having a very good World Cup.

14th minute: Shot of Hope Solo just about to clear out the ball. Nice shot of Solo, who, as previously mentioned, is a cutie.

15th minute: Free kick awarded for US from 10 yards before the box. Good chance here. The US is deadly on free kicks. Lloyd blasts a shot through off the wall that deflects through, but is ultimately corralled by Lindhal.

16th minute: Swedish applying heavy pressure, keeping Stephanie Lopez and Co. on their heels. Another corner for Sweden…Abby heads out the clearance. FEWF! This is not the US Team that I know.

Side note: My sleeping patterns this week are taking an absolute beating. My poor stinging eyes!

19th minute: Although the possession line favors USA 51-49%, the stat is misleading: Sweden’s possessions are deep in the US end.

20th minute: Cat Whitehill’s free kick from deep almost catches Lindhal ff-guard before the ball’s punched out of the box. Close!

21st minute: Left-footed laser from Kristie Lilly, and finally, some prolonged pressure on the Sweden back line. Now this is the US team I know of!

23rd minute: US finally plays a corner short, something that they’ve been good at. Though the ensuing shot goes high and wide, it’s encouraging to see the attempt even made. Julie Foudy agrees that this was a good idea. See – I can be soccer savvy too!

24th minute: Greg Ryan seen applauding his team, shouting encouragement. Bobby Knight he is not, thank God.

25th minute: Shot of Carli trotting back on defense. She needs to be a factor in this game, with her deadly “lasers” from deep.

Side note: THUMP! Newspaper cleared for landing on my front porch. Actually startled me a bit after being engrossed in the game…and the fact that everyone’s still asleep and I’m the only soul awake at the moment in my house. (5:26am ET)

26th minute: Rampone’s motor is definitely clicking on all cylinders, relentless chasing down her mark. Good job Christie!

27th minute: Leslie Osborne almost single-handedly snuffs out a threatening Swedish attack.

29th minute: Wooosh!!!! Chalupney with a rocket! Stopped, but a ROCKET! Not overweight Fat Billy of the New York Yankees, but a ROCKET!

29th minute: Wow, the rabbit-quick Victoria Svensson shot flies just over the bar. Man, it can turn just like that.

Side note: ESPN Bottom line indicates that USC is still ranked number 1. Yeah, that’s right. Contrary to popular belief amongst my friends, I am not a fan of ‘SC just because of their nickname. (Go Trojans – FIGHT ON)

30th minute: Whoa…Foudy almost made a ’99 reference when she said that this team isn’t as possession oriented as teams in the past. Close, Jules, close. I know you wanted to say “as possession-oriented the ‘99 team.” Almost caught ya there.

32nd minute: Swedish free kick from 12 yards before box…dangerous play here…5-player wall. Svenson takes the kick…and it’s high and wide. JP should call every soccer game. He should clone himself and have his spawn do every soccer game ever played by every US-based club. Except the Revolution. I like Brad and Greg, but then again, I’m biased.

33rd minute: Ohhhhhh…Chalupny pounces on a ball misjudged by Lindhal and falls to the ground courtesy of #4 in the Swedish area. PK…PK????? PK!!!! PK!!! YES!!! Woooo-Hooo!!!!

34th minute: PK by Abby…lines it up…whistle…and sends Lindhal the wrong way!!!! YESSSS!!!! Abby’s shot is somewhat badly-struck, but effective nonetheless. 1-0 USA. (5:34AM ET)

Side note: I’m crazy for waking this early and dairying a sports event at 5am on a workday. I won’t dispute this now, but may do so later in the day when after the effects of my fifth coffee of the morning finally wears off.

37th minute: Lindhal tested yet again, with Abby bearing down on a ball en route to the box.

39th minute: Lloyd winds up a shot that deflects off of Lilly that brings Lundhal to her side to stop the wayward ball.

Commentary: Game is clearly not even close to the game played against North Korea. US is really beginning to establish the attack, and finally putting its opponents on their heels.

43rd minute: US starting to dominate possession.

Stat line: Possession now 54%-US, 46% Sweden.

Side note: It’s 6:45am ET – I’m debating whether to hit the gym or to go back to bed before I have to be at work at 8:30pm. I think bed is sounding a lot better at this point.

45th minute: One minute of stoppage added. US playing the ball well. Bodes well for the second half (I’m not trying to jinx the US women, I swear!)

HALFTIME! Times to see what’s in the cereal cabinet. And visit the restroom.

Side note: Back, after letting the cat in, and munching on Apple Crunchies.

46th minute: 6:02am ET. C’mon ladies…44 minutes from three points…

Stat line: The US is 15-0-1 when leading at the half during World Cup play. Another good omen?

49th minute: Lilly makes a nice run to the post and chips the ball just wide. US looking much better this game than they did last match. They are out shooting Sweden 10-4.

Side note: 6:07am ET. Sun starting to up, as daybreak begins to cast shadows in the dining room

52nd minute: The tempo begins to slow. Free kick for Sweden…and the US clears the ball. Crap! Forgot to start re-recording for the second half! Damn!

56th minute: Another free kick for Sweden about 12 yards from the box. Sweden has players line up and Sjorgan takes the kick…and is snatched by Hope Solo.

57th minute: Ensuing Swedish corner, ball loops toward the far post as Hope snatches the header off of Segerstrong.

58th minute: OH!!! Abby races into the box, one touch, and blasts it into the back of the NET!!!! JUST LIKE THAT! WOOO-NICE!!! 2-0, US. Beautiful goal, Abby!

60th minute: US pressuring the Swedish backs again, corner from Lopez coming up.

61ST minute: Lopez’s corner goes into the heart of the box, but Abby just misses in search of her third goal of the match.

63rd minute: Lilly plays the ball from the left wing and sends sharply it to Tarpley. Tarpley then takes an acute-angled shot that sails wide of the far post. US is definitely playing with much more confidence than on Tuesday, but I’m wary of the oh-so-feared two-goal lead.

67th minute: Subs…Heather O’Reilly for Tarpley at 6:23am ET.

68th minute: First reference by Jules to the ‘99 team. I knew I could count on ya, Jules!

70th minute: Lindhal makes an awkward punch at a high ball that takes a weird deflection. Yawwwwn! Boy, do I need a coffee if I’m going to the gym after this. Probability of heading to the gym after this: almost zero. My eyes are stinging almost as much as they were during the MTV Music Video Awards opening act.

74th minute: Sweden pressuring before hope snatches the ball. Less face time for Hope. I suppose that’s good for US, but bad for my throbbing eyes. She has become my second favorite US WNT player.

76th minute: Sweden really lacking a sense of urgency to get a goal. Don’t they know that they’re down 0-2?

77: Swedish free kick flirts with the far post, but goes wide past a gaggle of players.

79: Svenson left foots a shot that is left-pawed by Hope as the ball skips off the bar right after. Sweden is really starting to attack late.

82nd minute: Sweden attacking again, though merely launching the ball into the US end without any type of organization.

83rd minute: Oooooooh Lundin beats Whitehill I nthe box before Lopez comes into clear the ball away…fewf…

85TH minute: Lilly takes a corner. Ball bounces back out…another corner for US. US, of course, taking their sweet time on these set pieces.

86th minute: Lopez corner taken, rebound comes close to goal, but temporarily cleared away. US comes right back when O’Reilly fires a shot on goal.

88th minute: Two minutes until three points. This game is much MUCH less dramatic than North Korea – which is FINE by me. I won’t complain about two-goal lead.

89th minute: Hope smothers a dangerous ball a few yards from her line. Lands on her shoulder, to which Foudy and Dellacamera are both hinting may be injured. Man, I HOPE not. Not Hope. She’s too good. Ugh, it’s still early for that one…coffee?

90th minute: Three minutes of stoppage added. Yeah, I’m definitely not going to the gym after this. My bed is calling me.

93+ minute: US now toying with Sweden, just passing the ball amongst each other. Sweden can’t assemble an attack. Solo picks up a bouncing ball, launches it, and the final whistle blows at 6:51am ET. I’m not sticking around for the post-match stuff -my eyes feel like someone doused them with V8.

2-0 US…WOOOO--HOOOO….A win for our women, and it’s back to bed for me. I have work in an hour and a half. The gym can definitely wait.

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