Sunday, July 15, 2007

USA 1, Norway 0

Kristine Lilly, right, and Christie Rampone, left, of the U.S. wave to the fans as they leave the field after the U.S. defeated Norway 1-0 in an exhibition soccer game in East Hartford, Conn., Saturday, July 14, 2007. Lilly was credited with an assist on the goal scored in the 66th minute of the game by Carli Lloyd that gave the U.S. a 1-0 victory over Norway. (AP Photo/Bob Child)

Rampone was named the Woman of the Match.

Coach Mom & attended this game last night. Our seats were directly behind Christie Rampone's elbow in the photo above. Field seats are indeed that; our feet were on the grass (I can confirm that it is real, as I stuck my finger down into the dirt) and we were seated four feet from the sideline. They sold about a hundred of these, and lined up 100 red camp chairs with the USSoccer logo on them behind the advertiser's wall. We got to keep the seat!

It was Kristine Lilly Day in the state of Connecticut. The festivities were ... underwhelming. The governor's proclamation was given by some low-level staffer, and Sunil Gulati of USSoccer didn't show up either. ESPN cut off the showing of the USSoccer video tribute to Lilly to keep to its time schedule.

USSoccer must not have a marketing staff. They only had a few souvenir stands at the game, and THEY WEREN'T SELLING A KRISTINE LILLY SHIRT. OR A LILLY JERSEY. On Kristine Lilly Day. Kristine Lilly, the pride of Wilton, Connecticut. In front of her home state fans. Ten thousand fans with money in their pockets couldn't buy a Lilly shirt from USSoccer in Hartford Connecticut. For Christ's sake. How stupid can you get?

Ten years ago when you went to a national team game, you could only buy a "Hamm" shirt. Like Mia didn't play with the greatest player in the history of women's soccer, Michelle Akers. Like fans wouldn't have wanted to wear Akers, Lilly, Foudy, Scurry, Chastain or Fawcett shirts. And today USSoccer has the same brain-dead marketing scheme. Abby Wambach is the only player on the national team whose shirt is sold at games. Kristine Lilly may be the most-capped player in the history of international football, male or female, she may be the captain of the team, she may be heading for her record-setting fifth World Cup, but the morons at USSoccer don't think it's worth selling her shirt at a World Cup tuneup game in her home state. American football fans are ruled by idiots.

Go on the USSoccer site. Click on the link to the new shirt for the Women's World Cup. You can buy shirts of four players whose names are already on the shirt: Boxx, Tarpley, Solo, and Wambach. But if you want a Kristine Lilly shirt? You have to pay $5 extra to have her name and number imprinted. She's the captain, for crying out loud. Idiots.

The game itself was great. The US started the game in our half of the field, so we saw several excellent clears and takeaways by Christie Rampone (the former Christie Pierce, which is what I always call her when I get excited). The back line was immense in this game. Norway was only credited with one shot on goal. Cat Reddick did have one too slow backpass, and Stephanie Lopez mistakenly kicked the ball into a Norway player that bounced back over her head, but other than that Rampone, Reddick, Markgraf, and Lopez were impenetrable.

The offense wasn't as tight. For some reason coach Greg Ryan has Abby Wambach wandering all over the field. Note to Ryan: Wambach is not the Energizer Bunny (that's Kristine Lilly). I can't understand why Abby isn't the Ruud van Nistelrooy of the team, planted in the 18 yard box, waiting for service. She's a big woman and having her run from the left to the right to the middle constantly just wears her out. (Does Shaq bring the ball up the floor? No. He belongs in the paint. Abby belongs in the box.) The US was coming towards us in the second half and she was drenched in sweat, every run an effort by the final 20 minutes (check out this photo to see what I mean).

Coach Mom thought the US really missed Heather O'Reilly, both her speed and her penetrating runs at the defense, and Shannon Boxx. We thought Boxx was hurt, but my sis reports that on ESPN2 Julie Foudy criticized Ryan's decision not to play Boxx. In the midfield, Lloyd scored the only goal, while Osborne did not play well at all and Chalupny was not really a factor. Neither was Lindsey Tarpley, and when Natasha Kai came in her speed was noticeable. I'd love to see more counterattacking with long passes to free Kai and her blazing speed but it's not something we really do. I really hope Kai is named to the final squad (three spots remain). World Cups are won by the young. Especially when the young are led by wily old veterans like Kristine Lilly, our indefatigable warrior.

Those two, the young and the old, combined to create the lone US goal. It happened so fast that we weren't even sure the referee had called for the corner. We saw Lilly whip the pass in to Lloyd who headed it into the Norway goal. On the replay we could see that it was Kai who cleverly took the quick short corner, passing to Lilly.

The next game for the US is against Japan on Saturday, July 28th in San Jose, California. It's at 7:00 Pacific time, and no TV coverage, so to watch it you have to tune it to USSoccer's MatchAccess (if it's working) at 10:00 p.m. Eastern time. Go USA. Photo Gallery Photo Gallery

Hartford Courant: A Tribute To Lilly

Hartford Courant: `Drained' Solo Keeps Performance Level High U.S. Women Defeat Norway, 1-0, in Connecticut Saturday, July 14, is Kristine Lilly Day in Connecticut Quote Sheet: U.S. WNT 1, Norway 0

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Who are the tools that don't have Lilly jerseys for sale? One guess? There are no women making those key marketing decisions. If there are any decisions being made at all. I am keenly aware of organizations that don't have a plan, much less a clue.