Wednesday, April 16, 2008


USA celebrates penalty shot victory over Canada, 4/12/08 Change blowin' in the wind for women's team

Besides the news that Kate Markgraf is the team co-captain (yea Kate!) this article contains this interesting outline of Pia Sundhage's challenges:

Plenty of wrenching decisions, though, lie ahead.

There is goalkeeper Hope Solo and the scars from her much-publicized banishment at the 2007 World Cup last September. Solo and her teammates have worked to mend their tattered relationship, but Solo also has admitted “there are still some people who I realize I may never be close to again.”

There is the fitness level of hefty defender Cat Whitehill, a starter in the 2003 and '07 World Cups and 2004 Olympics. Sundhage has already made a subtle statement by benching Whitehall through most of the Algarve Cup and Olympic qualification.

There is the disposition of 5-foot-11 forward Abby Wambach, who is the team's most gifted player and whose abrasive personality can (and does) rub teammates and coaches the wrong way. She was the focal point in former coach Greg Ryan's bang-it-forward system, but Sundhage's offensive diversification ultimately means fewer touches for the No. 5 scorer in U.S. history.

There is the leadership void created when Kristine Lilly, the lone remaining link to the 1991 World Cup title, took the year off to start a family.

I am not surprised that Whitehill's fitness is an issue. One of the nightmares of Greg Ryan's foolish tactics was having Whitehill come forward to take all throw-ins, when she struggled to get back into position. Hopefully Sundhage will put her on the Juande Ramos diet.

I don't know about Wambach rubbing anyone else the wrong way, but I wager that she's had a few run-ins with this reporter. Is he trying to say that Abby is crabby because she's not getting the ball as much? I bet she's happy to be winning in a system that lets the team play soccer, not bootball.

ussoccer: U.S. Women's National Team Downs Canada in Penalty Kick Shootout to Win 2008 CONCACAF Women's Olympic Qualifying

Captain Christie Rampone with CONCACAF Trophy after win over Canada, 4/12/08

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