Women’s World Cup — the 23 who fell short

Dan Lauletta July 7, 2015 56
(Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

The United States won the World Cup for the third time on Sunday.  Their story has been well documented through the year and particularly over the last month.  But what about the other 23? Here’s a quick look at all of the teams that left Canada short of winning it all.

Group Stage

Ecuador (0-3-0, 4th place, Group C)

Ecuador was essentially overmatched in their first World Cup, although they left with a glimmer of hope after playing Japan to 1-0 in the final group match after the Nadeshiko had already secured top spot in the group.  Cameroon and Switzerland though, overwhelmed them.  There is a lot of work to do for 26-year-old coach Vanessa Arauz.

Ivory Coast (0-3-0, 4th place, Group B)

There can hardly be a more difficult assignment than playing Germany in what was essentially the team’s first match of any consequence outside Africa.  Sure enough it took less than three minutes for their defense to get torn apart.  And when the saving grace of the opening match is that you could have tied the World Cup record for worst defeat but did not (they lost 10-0, the record is 11-0), there is clearly a long way to go.  Les Elephants did show that they can attack and they may have outplayed Thailand despite losing 3-2.  Head coach Clementine Toure joined the global chorus calling for more support back home when she said after the tournament, “We did not deserve to come here and be humiliated.”

Leo Cuellar (Getty Images)

Leo Cuellar (Getty Images)

Mexico (0-2-1, 4th place, Group F)

A contender for biggest disappointment, Mexico looked on their way to winning a World Cup match for the first time until letting Colombia back into their first match.  They were level with England well beyond an hour before capitulating, and then were run off the park by France.  In 2010 they qualified for the World Cup with a shocking upset over the United States but seem to be riding in neutral ever since.  Longtime coach Leo Cuellar made a vague announcement about stepping down without offering a timetable.

Nigeria (0-2-1, 4th place, Group D)

In a different tournament, with a different draw, Nigeria could have been in the quarterfinals.  But a rough group in which they were unlucky to play the United States third and a complete inability to defend set pieces proved to be their undoing.  Coach Edwin Okon began the tournament by saying of his first opponent, “I don’t know anything about Sweden.”  He ended the tournament by being sacked.  His replacement will inherit talented young players like Asisat Oshoala and Francisca Ordega and a chance to build the Super Falcons into a feared side.  Getting two more players signed in NWSL can only benefit the program.

Spain (0-2-1, 4th place, Group E)

It may have been Spain’s first time at the World Cup but they have every right to be disappointed with their performance.  They could have feasibly won all three matches and the group if not for some horrific finishing that wasted several good performances by Vero Boquete.  When it was over the team, led by Boquete, called for the ousting of coach Ignacio Quereda, who has been in charge of the team 27 years.

Amber Hearn reacts to missing a penalty. (Getty Images)

Amber Hearn reacts to missing a penalty. (Getty Images)

New Zealand (0-1-2, 4th place, Group A)

Another team that underwhelmed in a group where every match was there for the taking.  In what could have been the final go-round for veterans Amber Hearn and Abby Erceg, the lasting vision might be Hearn hitting the crossbar with a penalty against Canada that could have given them the lead and changed the entire complexion of the group.  That match ended 0-0 and next time New Zealand plays a World Cup match, they will still be searching for a first win.

Costa Rica (0-1-2, 3rd place, Group E)

The Ticas should be proud of their World Cup performance.  They earned a draw against Korea Republic on Karla Villalobos’ goal in the 89th minute, and hung with Brazil before losing 1-0.  They beat Mexico in the CONCAF qualifying tournament and coupled with the World Cup have to feel as if they have slid into the No. 3 spot in the region behind the United States and Canada.  Shirley Cruz should have enough years left to build around for one more cycle.

Thailand (1-2-0, 3rd place, Group B)

The only team to win a match and not make it out of the group stage, Thailand showed some promise with a glut of team speed and an organized defense that needs plenty of work on the technical side.  Asia is on the rise though and Thailand probably would not have qualified without the exclusion of North Korea.  But beating Ivory Coast in a wild, 3-2 match was a great moment for the team.  Hopefully it is one that resonates back home to both fans and soccer officials.

Round of 16

Colombia (1-2-1, l. United States)

There has long been a vacuum behind Brazil in South America, but Colombia may have filled it with an inspired performance that included a stunning upset of France in the middle of Group F.  They did it by playing a measured, defensive style but without fear of counterattacking when appropriate.  Lady Andrade proved she can do more than just be physical with Abby Wambach and Yireli Rincon and goalkeeper Sandra Sepulveda could be stars in the making.  They were right in their round of 16 match with the United States until Catalina Perez was sent off early in the second half.

Netherlands (1-2-1, l. Japan)

It was a typical debut for the Netherlands.  They played well enough to offer promise going forward, but not so well to suggest their ceiling was any higher than their finish.  The team should leave disappointed though, first for a defensive blunder that cost them a draw against China, and second for not being able to get their dynamic attacking personalities to feel comfortable.  Lieke Martens scored but 18-year-old Vivianne Miedema struggled as did Manon Melis.  But Martens and Miedema should have several more cycles to make their mark.

Norway (2-1-1, l. England)

After signaling a return to prominence by finishing runner-up at Euro 2013, the World Cup was a mixed bag for Norway.  Their only two wins were against overmatched Thailand and Ivory Coast.  They drew Germany despite being badly outplayed in the first half, and they led England in the second half before allowing two late ones to be shown the exit doors.  They did see Ada Hegerberg’s World Cup debut and first three goals at age 19.  Going forward Hegerberg is as good a young player as any to build a national team roster around.

Sweden (0-1-3, l. Germany)

Probably the single most disappointing team at this World Cup.  Many predicted that Sweden would beat the United States and win Group D, but instead they drew all three group matches in an underwhelming performance and had to sweat out next day’s results to see if they would even advance.  Any idea that they would wake up and be a tough out for Germany was quickly put to rest in a match they were never in.  They are in a qualifying playoff for the final European Olympic bid after which it seems like a good time to start some significant turnover of the roster.

Cameroon (2-2-0, l. China)

Their best performance was against Ecuador and in doing so they showed a glimpse into what is a program on the rise in an African region that just might be contentious over the next few cycles.  The star of the show was 23-year-old Gaelle Enganamouit, who had a hat trick against Ecuador and was dangerous in Cameroon’s other matches.  Enganamouit current plays for a team at the bottom of the Swedish league.  A transfer to a bigger club could benefit both player and national team.

Marta (Getty Images)

Marta (Getty Images)

Brazil (3-1-0, l. Australia)

This was the third straight World Cup Brazil got through the group stage without conceding a goal, but their final standing has declined each of those three tournaments and their last win in a knockout match was the Brianna Scurry/Hope Solo match in 2007.  The issues this time were offensive.  Marta had her most quiet World Cup, and though they had some close chances it never looked like they had an answer for Australia’s defensive setup in the round of 16.  Marta will be 33 at the next World Cup, but the short term for Brazil is the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro next summer.

Switzerland (1-3-0, l. Canada)

Like Cameroon, Switzerland got to unleash the best of their attacking personalities against Ecuador.  Fabienne Humm scored a hat trick in five minutes and Ramona Bachmann also had a hat trick.  The other matches, however, were a study in missed opportunity.  Bachmann can break down just about any defender in the world, but the team often spends too much time watching her.  Some final third cohesiveness is necessary to take the team to the next level.  They are sound in back as evidenced by a 1-0 loss to Japan with the only goal coming on a 50/50 penalty call.

Korea Republic (1-2-1, l. France)

Korea Republic’s World Cup may very well be remembered most for what happened right before it started.  They went to New Jersey and outplayed the United States in a 0-0 friendly at Red Bull Arena.  The highlight of the World Cup was a second half comeback against Spain in the group finale when they knew only a win would see them through to knockout play.  A younger, less precise replica of Japan, the Koreans are on the march in women’s soccer.

Quarterfinals

China (2-2-1, l. United States)

If not for the great Chinese teams of the 1990s, this version would be considered one of the budding teams in the world.  They are extremely well organized defensively including solid goalkeeping, can get forward on the counter, and played this tournament without their best offensive player.  U.S. fans who only watched them in the quarterfinals missed the best China had to offer.

Australia (2-2-1, l. Japan)

Things are looking up for Australia.  Alen Stajcic had them in residency for five months ahead of the World Cup, where they trained on a special artificial turf pitch the federation built them to prepare for Canada.  And their array of young talent is extraordinary.  Caitlin Foord is 20 and has already played in two World Cups and neither Samantha Kerr nor Kyah Simon have turned 25 yet.  Stajcic also proved to be one of the best tactical coaches at the tournament.  Put them on the short list of legitimate contenders for 2019.

Canada (2-1-2, l. England)

The host country built up a narrative that offered hope they could march all the way to the final.  And then the World Cup started and Canada couldn’t figure out how to score.  They played admirable defense, though, until two mistakes early in the quarterfinal became their undoing.  Could things have been better if Diana Matheson and Carmelina Moscato had a little more time to recover? Maybe, but the quarterfinals was about the right result for Canada.

(Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

France (3-1-1, l. Germany)

Oh, France.  The best and worst of France was on full display at this World Cup.  They were flat in a loss to Colombia that shocked the world.  They played some of the most beautiful soccer of the tournament in a rout of Korea Republic in the round of 16.  They ran circles around Germany in the quarters only to somehow get to penalties 1-1 and then lose.  If you watched every team’s best game you could well think France are the best team in the world.  But at this point the only thing that will make that true is a win in a major competition.  They will likely be the team under the most pressure in Rio.

Fourth Place

Germany (3-2-2, l. United States)

Fourth place is not such a bad standing in the world but considering Germany came in ranked No. 1 and did not score in the run of play over their final three matches, the tournament has to be considered a disappointment.  The worst of it was the semifinal when Celia Sasic became the first German woman to miss a penalty at the World Cup and they otherwise rushed bad shots and never made any adjustments as the United States controlled the midfield.

3rd Place

England (5-2-0, l. Japan)

No team had as many different storylines or changed as much as England at this World Cup.  Did anyone that watched them drop into an immediate defensive shell against France think they could get to the brink of the final? Meanwhile the four-day odyssey of Laura Bassett may have offered a glimpse into how we can better handle the travails of professional athletes.  And coach Mark Sampson helped inspire a nation with his words and the type of soccer his team was playing by the end.

Final

Japan (6-1-0, l. United States)

Japan reached their third straight major final which is nothing to brush off, but in the end they were on the receiving end of one of the great onslaughts in the history of major soccer finals, and faced some very suspect competition to get there.  No one in their group had ever been to a World Cup before and neither had round-of-16 opponent, the Netherlands.  They manhandled Australia but could not score until the 88th minute and were being outplayed by England when they went through on a fortuitous own goal in stoppage time.  Like the United States they had a deep run but have some development and roster turnover questions to answer in the near term.

  • Craigaroo

    Nice article. What good are ratings? we sometimes ask. With many of the 23 other teams, performance ratings may help assess their team and how well they’re progressing. New Zealand, for example, has to be disappointed to not get out of the group but they were in a strong group and their performance rating, which was the highest of any team eliminated in the group stage, should encourage them that they’re doing reasonably well. Performance ratings (calculated using opponents’ FIFA ratings) for the teams that exited from the Group Stage (highest to lowest) followed by their official pre-World Cup official rating:
    New Zealand 1855 (FIFA rating 1832)
    Nigeria 1850 (1633)
    Costa Rica 1816 (1589)
    Mexico 1717 (1748)
    Spain 1626 (1875)
    Thailand 1613 (1654)
    Ivory Coast 1464 (1373)
    Ecuador 1199 (1485)

    • Steglitz49

      New Zealand missed a penalty like Germany did in the semi-final. Teams that miss penalties deserve to go home to an early bath.

      Spain was the only UEFA team not to get out of their group. A big disappointment.

      • Lorehead

        Of course, so did Abby.

        • Steglitz49

          Who cares what Abby did? This was Carli’s show. Hence that so-called “iconic” photo. How pathetic.

    • FootballNowAndAlways

      I am glad to see Costa Rica rated impressively on this list. Truly the U.S. might be in for a surprise during the upcoming friendlies if she is not careful.

      • Craigaroo

        Costa Rica had two ties against two established1800+ teams, South Korea and Spain. That’s pretty good for a small country. It helps a bit to face a 2nd string Brazil lineup and lose only 0-1, but even with a 0-3 loss, their performance rating would be in the high 1700s (like 1790) – not bad at all.

        • FootballNowAndAlways

          Indeed. Every one of their opponents was ranked higher than they. Nigeria suffered worst of all in that regard, drawing 3 opponents in the top 10. Costa Rica drew #s 7, 14 and 18. Their opponents could also have been a little easier.

  • Keithustus

    Wow, that is one hell of an article! It clearly took a lot of time and insight to digest the full match history in light of each team’s expectations and coach/roster situation. I thank you so much for essentially doing all of that mental consolidation for us all, and better than I ever could, and most other readers as well.

  • eL cascador (RIP Cdr Wank)

    “if you watched every team’s best game you could well think France are the best team in the world. But at this point the only thing that will make that true is a win in a major competition.

    It will take years for France to be the best team in the world then. France lacks finishing because they lack lucidity in key moments. They won’t have it in the OG not after a long and exhausting domestic season.
    OG is not a competition suited for soccer but it is more suited for the best athletes. They will have a better shot in Euro 17, they might end up in the podium this time.
    Don’t get me wrong though, I still think France is one of the most technical and savvy team and they prove they can compete a bit physically. Carli Lloyd remind us a team doesn’t have to be all savvy and all technical to win. Unfortunately the OG will be too much to handle : less days of recovering.

    Anyway, I will be more concerned about how French WoSo will grow inside the country than how they will compete internationally for the next 5-6 years. A french club might win Women Champion’s leagues again which is a good start.

    • Tom F

      since Boogaroo(spell check) did worse than Bimi did in his last WC, does this mean Bimi is going to get fired? And wouldn’t France have to play in a playoff first to qualify for the Olympics?

      • eL cascador (RIP Cdr Wank)

        FFF extend Phillipe Bergerôo contract to 2017.

      • Steglitz49

        The misjudgement of Bergerôo and his players was not to make sure they ended up on the weaker side of the draw. This was within their hands but they fumbled on the 5 yd line.

        I seem to remember the Patriots running down the clock against the Colts with the game totally in their hand when they were caught with 12 players on the field. The Colts got possession and kicked a field goal and was in the Superbowl, which they won (against Chicago i think).

        • FootballNowAndAlways

          I hope people remember to give credit to France for doing the noble thing in winning their group, even though finishing second could very well have seen them playing in the final.

          This world cup taught us one hard lesson. You’ve got to finish your chances – one-on-one face-offs with goalies, empty netters, and penalties, oh yes, penalties most of all.

          • Steglitz49

            No. There are no prizes for being stupid.

          • FootballNowAndAlways

            You are encouraging bad sportswomanship. How can you decry the lack of honesty in soccer (goalkeepers not alerting Referees to balls that cross the line, players not calling fouls on themselves) and encourage the notion of playing under one’s true potential in order to secure future favorable match-ups? This is one thing women’s soccer certainly can’t afford.

          • Steglitz49

            Had FIFA made an honest draw there would be no need for such shenanigans.

          • AlexH

            Did France know going in that it was 100% certain of advancing on 4/3 pts? Also are they certain that with a tie/loss there was no way they would wind up in 3rd which would have put them in a round of 16 match with the USA. Also once their spot in the group was settled could teams playing after them also play not to win and undo whatever gains the French got by not winning? The permutations for not winning can be staggering and can backfire unless you think it through.

          • Steglitz49

            The last matches in a group are played at the same time since the embarrassment of 1982.

          • Lorehead

            At kickoff time, France had beaten England and lost to Colombia, England had beaten Mexico, and Colombia and Mexico had drawn. This put Colombia ahead with four points, England with three, France with three, and Mexico with one.

            A Mexican win would guarantee France a finish no higher than third with three points and a GD below -1, not enough to make the round of 16, so they needed a result.

            If Colombia had beaten England, France would have finished second with a draw, and maybe with a loss if England lost by enough. England would have needed to win by three to let France come in second with a draw. If both games had ended in draws, Colombia would have won the group on points, then England would have come in second on GD.

            Therefore, France could not guarantee at spot in the round of 16 at all, except by winning.

          • FootballNowAndAlways

            I have included a table showing the situation in group F after 2 matches, to make it easier to understand the underhanded thing that Steg49 is suggesting the French should have done. And it just so happens that they could easily have done it if he had been in charge of France. The discussion below concerns the final 2 matches of group F which were of course played simultaneously.

            France made it easy on themselves by taking a 2 – 0 lead before the 10th minute. With a 2 – 0 lead at that point in the match, they could be reasonably certain they would defeat Mexico (France was actually 4 – 0 by the 37th minute).

            England made it easy for France to implement Steg49’s suggestion, by taking a 2 – 0 lead before the 39th minute. That meant Colombia would have to stage a dramatic comeback to finish first, otherwise England would finish with 6 points, something the French was aware of as they went in to halftime.

            So after the 39th minute, England had a 2 – 0 lead and was in second place, and France had a 4 – 0 lead, and was in first place. But France did not need to jump to such a wide lead. All she needed to do was ensure that she defeated Mexico, and she was guaranteed at least a second place finish. France would have been reasonably certain that Mexico couldn’t cancel the 2 goal deficit she had inflicted on Mexico by the 10th minute. So all France had to do was wait to see which way the cat jumped in the England/Colombia match.

            As the two matches progressed simultaneously after the 15th minute (when England took a 1 – 0 lead and France was leading 2 – 0), France would have been cynically sitting on her lead while hoping England would score more goals against Colombia. And that is just what happened. England scored to make it 2 – 0 in the 38 minute. If France had been bidding to finish second, she would not have scored the 2 goals in the 13th and 36th minutes that had her leading by 4 – 0 when England took a 2 – 0 lead. France would have stayed at 2 – 0, and simply used her defense to hold Mexico at bay until the match ended. That would have put France at +1 goal difference. (Even if England and Colombia ended 2 – 1, leaving England and France with the same goal difference, England would have finished first, having scored more goals) As things turned out, that is exactly what would have happened because Colombia scored in the 94th minute and if France had defeated Mexico by 2 – 0 rather than 5 – 0, France and England would have had identical goal differences and, England, not France, would have finished first. England would have had to concede 2 goals (i.e. tie the game 2 – 2) to drop out of first place altogether.

            But thankfully, as it turned out, France did the noble thing and won the group, even when they must have known that finishing first would bring put them on a collision course with the two highest ranked teams in the tournament.

            I don’t call that being stupid. I call it admirable sportswomanship.

            Sorry for the long post, but I wanted show what Don Corleone Steg49 was encouraging France to do. Evidently he thinks we need the equivalent of the Germany/Austria fiasco for the women’s game.

      • STT

        France played well enough, with Bergeroo fixing a lot of what people saw flawed with Bini, that I think it was a good showing even if they ran up against the best wall Germany could throw up, which isn’t something to be disappointed about. (France, being ranked lower than Germany, actually gained FIFA rating points from that match, though definitely not enough to undo the hemorrhaging of point they had against Colombia.)

        France and Germany have already directly qualified to the Olympics as the top two eligible teams from UEFA in the WWC. UEFA awards its three Olympic spots to the top three UEFA teams in the WWC standings, and since England isn’t eligibile due to not being an IOC member, the top two spots went to Germany and France while the third spot is down to a playoff between the four UEFA teams that went out in the R16.

        • eL cascador (RIP Cdr Wank)

          Well, you sum up perfectly why the FFF is pleased with Bergerôo’s work since 2013.

  • Ash

    Really terrific and well-structured wrap-up, Dan. Thanks for doing this

    • FootballNowAndAlways

      No, it isn’t. Cameroon is listed at 1-3-0. It is actually 2-2-0. The write up says that Ecuador was the country Cameroon defeated. That is quite wrong. Cameroon defeated both Ecuador and Switzerland. I wonder how many more mistakes litter this “insightful”, article.

      And what is so shocking about a team ranked 66 losing 10 – 0 to a team ranked number 1? I found the 6 – 0 defeat of Ecuador by a lower-ranked team (Cameroon) far more shocking.

      Being sacked as the Nigerian coach is not necessarily a reflection of coaching ability. The coach of the Nigerian team was sacked after qualifying the team for 2010 world cup, and replaced by a coach who had failed to qualify Sweden. Edwin Okon was likely going to be sacked, not matter what.

      And how could the author overlook Germany’s missing players? How many top players did U.S. lose to injury or pregnancy? And enough with excusing Bassett’s mistake already. We sympathize with her, yes, but it did eliminate England from the final.

      This is not a balanced analysis. It is uneven and inaccurate.

      • Steglitz49

        Hear hear!

      • Ash

        WAAAAAAAHHHHH!!!!!!! Baby tears stream down baby face!

    • Steglitz49

      I agree with FootballNowAndAlways on this. The author has not bothered with even the simplest research.

      Norway went to Canada without several key players, the most famous of whom is Caroline Graham Hansen who usually plays up front with Hegerberg. This weakened th Norwegian attack. They also missed an experienced midfielder, for example. Not mentioned is Maren Melde’s superb freekick, the shot of the tournament.

      The author’s point that Sweden disappointed is well taken but he fails to mention that injuries sidelined two of their new young players, the MF Hanna Folkesson and the striker Fridolina Rolfö. There were other injuries. Also, Pia was critcized when she presented her 20+3 for not taking more young players to give them experience. Swedes expected the tournament to be difficult for their NT though they could not have predicted the nonsense against Nigeria.

      Sweden was the only team not to lose to the US. Therefore, Sweden are co-champions, are they not? The last sentence about Sweden is not only patronizing but shows lack of knowledge.

      The summary of the US-Ger SF fails to point out that had Sasic scored her PK, Germany almost certainly would have won and been in the final. Also, DZ could not play in the SF, and Germany were missing at least 3 players from the 20+3 owing to injury and pregnancy: Kessler, Wensing and Alushi. But, missing penalties is not a good idea, something which the USNT can attest to.

      Not really good enough.

      • JL

        That FK goal was good, but not that good. And if by DZ you’re referring to Maroszan, she did play in the semifinal.

        • Steglitz49

          The freekick was outstanding. Exceptional. Mega.

        • Ethan

          I have to agree with Steglitz49 here. That freekick was very good. It is incredibly difficult to score on a freekick from just outside the box.

      • Lorehead

        And Germany beat Sweden, so they’re co-champions, too. And Norway tied Germany. England beat Norway and Germany. Japan and France beat England. Colombia and Germany beat France. Mexico drew Colombia. Therefore, all these teams are rightful co-champions!

        • Breakers fan

          Split the cup that many ways and each team can carry their share of it around in a fist, unseen.

          • Steglitz49

            He means that it was a teddy-bear’s picnic, surely?

          • Breakers fan

            Japan didn’t lose until Ando herself returned. The teddy bear was undefeated. They may keep it and banish Ando.
            (sorry, that was cruel and unnecessary but I thought you may get a kick out of it)

          • Steglitz49

            Spot on analysis — and a lot better than the writer of this sorry piece, who could not be bothered to do his homework but mouths platitudes and prejudices galore. A disservice to WoSo — but what can you expect?

          • Breakers fan

            I don’t want to bash the author until I read the piece. I’ll let you know what I think after I read it.

      • Breakers fan

        The “What If” game with soccer — and I’ve played it — is a move, in my opinion, of last-grasp desperation over being unhappy at how things actually happened. One could play that game infinitely. For just 1 example of many, that US-Germany game — Alex Morgan’s shot goes 6 inches higher, clearing Angerer’s foot. Even less distance than Sasic’s pk would have to be altered. It’s futile, fatuous and a waste of time, as no one is listening or cares. Certainly not Time with an idea to going back and changing anything.

        • Steglitz49

          It is not “what it”. The point is that the writer of this article is an ignorant peasant, who has not bothered to do his homework.

          He must be called out and be brought to book. Male soccer would not stand for this shoddy workmanship; why should WoSo? Indeed, if WoSo wants to progress, it had better not.

          • Breakers fan

            I was responding specifically to you saying “what if Sasic made her PK………”
            That kind of thing one could do absolutely endlessly with a month-long tournament. It’s often called “sour grapes”. You don’t strike me as that type.
            I haven’t read the article yet. I saw from the comments that he got Cameroon’s record wrong by a game. Not sure if that is the only error.

          • Steglitz49

            Of course it is pointless. If it wasn’t, we would not do it, would we?

            Getting Cameroon wrong is symptomatic.

      • Ethan

        If Popp had been sent off for a second yellow in the US-Ger SF, then the US would have very likely still won and been in the final. I agree with the other points, but I don’t see the point in bringing up Sasic’s miss if you don’t bring up the fact that the player who won the penalty shouldn’t have been on the pitch at all.

        • Steglitz49

          The penalty was missed. That is a fact, not oppinion.

          The US learnt the hard way 4 years ago that at this level it is not a good idea to miss penalties.

  • kernel_thai

    Excellent summary of the tournament. France…I still see them a victim of the two team structure in their league. The French forwards spend most of the club seasons banging home an impressive number of goal against unimpressive defenders. Bergeroo tried to counter this by bravely playing friendlies against all comers but in the end the French still have trouble cracking the tough nut.

  • Good point about Japan’s “suspect” competition. I think we can all agree that some teams had an easier road to the final and that maybe some of the better teams in the competition faced each other too early.

    I for one would love to see the World Cup set up more like a NCAA Basketball Championship bracket. With the best team playing the worst team for elimination (based on FIFA rankings) instead of #1 facing #3 and #2 in elimination games and #4 playing #12 and #10.

    Any team can beat any other team in the world on a given day in soccer, but I would at least like to see a more relatively even battle to reach the top.

    • Steglitz49

      Traditionally, the world cup is seeded with either the host as #1 (usually) or as #4. The arrangements of this World Cup was such as to maximize a US vs Canada final. In the past the reigning champions qualified by right but no longer. They used to get a higher seed than they might have deserved.

      A side effect of that bias in favor of the US and Canada was that some teams had a harder path than those two and some got an easier than the otherwise might have.

      The problem with a 24 teams, as opposed to 16 or 32 teams, is that some teams get easier opponents than others. C’est la vie.

      FIFA further compounded their bias by lifting up Brazil at the expense of Sweden. 200 million inhabitants have more clout than 9 million. Fairness be damned.

    • Lorehead

      Sweden, Germany and France can reasonably complain that the U.S. got an easier ride at their expense, but Japan’s good luck was not really FIFA’s fault, and it did face two top-ten teams who upset other top-ten teams. FIFA was planning to pit them against Brazil and Canada, but England and Australia got the upsets. If they had used their own seeding, Brazil would’ve changed places with Sweden, who drew Australia in the group stage. But Sweden wasn’t exactly better in this tournament. If they’d gone with a NCAA-style bracket, #4 would have faced #1 in its semifinal, which was Germany. But the team they did get, England, beat Germany.

      • AlexH

        The USA was given a before the fact break by not having to play France or Germany should every pool play out as predicted. I think it was extremely “fortunate” that the pools did play out as predicted. I don’t think that happens very often though. Germany won on goal differential, France had to win their last game and the US got a lucky bounce of the crossbar against Sweden so lots could have happened to mess up FIFA’s master plan. The US’s easy ride was more about luck than about advantage, even though the advantage was certainly something that FIFA wanted.

        • Lorehead

          And, as we’ve gone over before, the U.S. had some really bad luck in the group draw, getting the most difficult group possible, so the actual outcome of winning the hardest group to get the easiest seed turned out to be fair enough.

      • Nettie

        Well, in the group stage the US could complain (and did!) about Germany getting a MUCH easier group. And since Germany had an easier group stage, their knockout rounds were going to have to be harder.

        • Lorehead

          Although, as you know, FIFA predetermined that Germany’s knockout rounds would be harder, but the other three teams in each group were random. Japan and Brazil got both easy groups and easy knockout stages, although Brazil lost in the Round of 16 anyway.

      • Lorehead

        Take that back, though: Sweden got drawn into the same group as the U.S., so if they’re going to complain about that, they’re admitting they’re not as good and were just playing for a spot in the Olympics.

  • FootballNowAndAlways

    In future world cups, every country should be made to take five penalties against three of the goalkeepers considered the best in the world right at the airport lounge. Any team that can’t put 3 PKs past each GK should immediately be put on the plane back home, or risk a firing squad.

    • Breakers fan

      Hilarious. I love it. Of course the world’s best teams could screw up here too. Would 3 out of 6 be more fair, considering the stakes? The scene, though, at the airport lounge, is great — I see it as being unannounced and occuring at like either 5:30am, or 1am, with basically no one watching except a FIFA official.

  • Steglitz49

    The real news is that Chelsea Ladies has signed “mini-Messi” aka Fran Kirby for a record fee for English WoSo from Reading. The exact figure I can’t find. Please help.

    The 22-year-old Fran scored 29 goals for Reading, who played in the Women’s Super League 2 last season, and a further 11 in just five appearances this season, prior to the World Cup.

  • StarCityFan

    You would think that at least the Equalizer would know how to spell *Briana* Scurry correctly.

  • dj

    just reminder to all, bet against Francia all the time because their team is loaded with chokers. The bigger the moments, the shakier their legs got.

    They can’t shoot straight when they are so nervous under pressure. The goal they scored against Germany was terrible because they could not shoot under pressure.

    They will never go far unless a new generation comes on. The current crop are no good. Beating the big bad USA in a friendly match got random fans and bloggers all riled up for nothing. I knew it and the followers of women’s games should know it too.

    Bet against Francia !!! There are more ways to win a game but the players must perform under pressure and Francia has never proven that they can do it.