Here’s how I see the sixth Women’s World Cup shaking down over the next few weeks. It probably won’t happen this way.
Group A: Canada believe they are legitimate title contenders but will be under the gun for results against Nigeria and France—both tough opponents—if they lose the opener to Germany. I think they can hold the World Champions to a draw on their way to getting out of a difficult group. Prediction: Germany and Canada
Group B: An intriguing group in that none of the four have broken through at a major event but three of them are being tapped as longshots. Of these England appears to have the most talent and put the most into succeeding at the tournament. On the other side New Zealand will have Ali Riley and not much else. The Mexican side will need to advance to solidify last fall’s stunning upset over the US. Prediction: England and Japan
Group C: Welcome to big time soccer, Colombia. The fledgling South American program would have to be satisfied with just hanging in with three of the world’s more difficult sides. Sweden is always a dark horse in big tournaments, but the prediction is for the Swedes to waste a draw against the US with a tough loss to North Korea. Prediction: United States and North Korea
Group D: Australia-Norway should be the single most important group match because neither are as good as Brazil should be, and both should trounce Equatorial Guinea. Australia pulled out a miracle last time, but we’ll go with the old guard this time. Prediction: Brazil and Norway
Germany d. Japan
Norway d. United States (It’s going to happen one of these cycles)
Canada d. England
Brazil d. North Korea
Germany d. Norway
Brazil d. Canada
Canada d. Norway
Brazil d. Germany
Now for a look at how Week 12 in WPS in shaking out:
Saturday: magicJack (5-3-0, 14 points) at Philadelphia Independence (4-2-3, 15 points)
The Independence would probably have just as soon sat on last week’s 6-0 victory but they have to play this make-up match which virtually eliminates the World Cup break for both clubs. magicJack keeper Brett Maron was sent off in the dying stages of last week’s contest so the team is down to their fourth goalkeeper, Shannon Myers.
KEYS TO THE GAME: From afar it looks like short-handed magicJack ought to be comfortable with a draw here, but they have yet to show any willingness to play things safe, no matter the situation. If they try to go up and down the field it could be another long day.
Unavailable: Shannon Boxx, Lisa De Vanna, Jillian Loyden, Christie Rampone, Megan Rapinoe, Becky Sauerbrunn, Sophie Schmidt, Hope Solo, Abby Wambach
Suspended: Brett Maron
Injured: Lindsay Tarpley
Unavailable: Nicole Barnhart, Lori Lindsey, Amy Rodriguez
Not rostered: Allison Falk, Lauren Fowlkes
Three points of interest
1) In the first Wednesday match of the season, Sky Blue got another strike of brilliance from Casey Nogueira and rode it to a 1-0 victory over the Atlanta Beat.
2) Megan Rapinoe will have a new club when she returns from the World Cup. magicJack acquired her from Philadelphia for cash considerations. (For historical context, Alex Cintron was traded during the 2006 World Baseball Classic, although that tournament is prior to the regular season.)
3) magicJack also released Meghan Schnur and Rebecca Moros, an odd decision on timing since the club is woefully shorthanded another week. The case of Schnur is also puzzling. She was as good as any left back in WPS in 2009 and looked headed for a legitimate look with the National Team until nagging injuries derailed her 2010 season.
And of course, be sure to check out “The Equalizer and All White Kit Present The Complete Guide to the 2011 Women’s World Cup“
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