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USA Women vs. New Zealand

With the Women's World Cup approaching and my trip to China a few weeks away, I wanted to experiment with a U.S. in-game forum. The Americans are playing New Zealand today at Soldier Field (1 p.m. Eastern, ESPN2) in their penultimate friendly before heading to Asia.

I've spent the past few days talking to Coach Greg Ryan and several players here in Chicago and plan to prepare a few feature stories in the coming weeks.

Entering today's match, the U.S. team has not lost in regulation since November 2004, a record span of 45 matches. The only blemish was a loss to Germany in penalty kicks at the 2006 Algarve Cup in Portugal (which is officially considered a tie).

The players say they couldn't care less about the streak and that the Cup is all that counts.

"The excitement is definitely stirring, some nerves are stirring, but all good things. If it was up to us, we would leave tomorrow," forward Heather O'Reilly said.

While the Cup is the priority, the players are also keeping an eye on the status of plans to re-launch a new top-tier national league next spring. The buzz is that investors will decide by the end of the month whether it will go forward in 2008 or 2009.

If you are watching today's match, feel free to share your thoughts here. I will provide some game details as it unfolds.

Solo; Rampone, Whitehill, Markgraf, Lopez; Boxx, Chalupny; O'Reilly, Tarpley, Wambach, Lilly. Very aggressive formation -- a 4-2-4, though the outside forwards, Lilly and Tarpley, will cover lots of ground on the flanks and turn it into a 4-4-2 at times.

A small crowd at Soldier Field. Why would they play here and not medium-sized Toyota Park in Bridgeview? That location had committed to a concert before this match was planned. As it turned out, the concert was cancelled, but the USSF had already signed a contract with Soldier Field.

By Steve Goff  |  August 12, 2007; 11:24 AM ET
Categories:  Women  
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Interesting line-up - the likely four top forwards are all starting. This should be an easy win for the US, and hopefully a good opportunity to work on cohesion between the forwards. I'd like to see Ryan play some subs early today. We can't afford any injuries at this stage, and the reserves need minutes.

Posted by: Ash | August 12, 2007 12:48 PM | Report abuse


The placement of your semicolons implies that this is a 4-2-4. Is that right? I don't recall Ryan using this formation much before.

Are these particular 11 folks the most likely bet to be the starting 11 in China?

Who is on the bench? How many subs can be used in this match? (The Weather Channel Web site says it is in the low 80s, humid, and likely to get worse as the day wears on.)

New Zealand is not in the top 20 in the FIFA rankings; this is a mismatch, at least on paper. We'll see.

Posted by: Go Penn State! | August 12, 2007 12:59 PM | Report abuse

Why Soldier Field rather than Toyota Park?

Posted by: Go Penn State! | August 12, 2007 1:01 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: Go Penn State! | August 12, 2007 1:17 PM | Report abuse

4-2-4, but changes into 4-4-2 at times

In the World Cup, they'll likely line up in a 4-3-3:

Solo in goal and Rampone, Whitehill, Markgraf and Lopez in the back is pretty much set.

The midfield will be a triangle formation, either two on top or two behind, depending on the situation. Boxx, Osborne, Chalupny and Lloyd are the top candidates.

Lilly will start at left forward, Wambach in the middle and either O'Reilly or Tarpley on the right.

Posted by: Goff | August 12, 2007 1:20 PM | Report abuse

Argentina and New Zealand (and perhaps Ghana) are regarded as the weakest sides in the 16-team World Cup.

Posted by: Goff | August 12, 2007 1:23 PM | Report abuse

Lloyd enters in the 30th, scores from 35 yards in the 35th -- 3-0.

(Lilly scored easily in the 33rd)

This might end up 8-0.

Posted by: Goff | August 12, 2007 1:45 PM | Report abuse

Yeah New Zealand are really no match. One would think a clearly overmatched side would just try to keep possession and kill time. But they can't even string multiple passes together. I expect more goals in the second half.

Posted by: Bart | August 12, 2007 2:10 PM | Report abuse

Lloyd is a little "muy caliente."

Posted by: Desmond | August 12, 2007 2:12 PM | Report abuse

ESPN2 just trotted out the "I will have two fillings" spot from '99. It hasn't lost much of its luster as a PR masterpiece.

Posted by: Go Penn State! | August 12, 2007 2:14 PM | Report abuse

Scurry for Solo at the half

Posted by: Goff | August 12, 2007 2:15 PM | Report abuse

4-0 U.S.A.

Way to grab that ball, NZ keeper.

Posted by: Sean | August 12, 2007 2:21 PM | Report abuse

interesting set piece - that should get the Germans studying.....


Posted by: JSF | August 12, 2007 2:28 PM | Report abuse

You think Carli will start the next match? She's certainly making a case for herself.

And why is the NZ coach not making a bunch of substitutions? They have no chance so why not give others a chance to get some experience

Posted by: Bart | August 12, 2007 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Change this keeper for crying out loud. She's dying out there!

Posted by: Bart | August 12, 2007 2:31 PM | Report abuse

NZ needs to get their 1st team experience...It's going to be a long WWC for them regardless.

Posted by: JSF | August 12, 2007 2:32 PM | Report abuse

Lots of subs on the way...

Posted by: Goff | August 12, 2007 2:33 PM | Report abuse

Yeah but they are wilting in the heat.

Posted by: Bart | August 12, 2007 2:33 PM | Report abuse

The NZ keeper is not very good. Can you imagine the level of the back-up?

Posted by: Goff | August 12, 2007 2:34 PM | Report abuse

She's no Briana Scurry but I don't blame her for all those goals. The defense has to take some of the blame too.

Posted by: Bart | August 12, 2007 2:35 PM | Report abuse

PK - NZ, I think that's the right call

Posted by: JSF | August 12, 2007 2:40 PM | Report abuse

Ok penalty for NZ. Let's see if they can score 1-on-1 with the keeper.

Posted by: Bart | August 12, 2007 2:40 PM | Report abuse

Gooooooool! NZ scores!

Ok why are the US women in a huddle? This is soccer not football :)

Posted by: Bart | August 12, 2007 2:41 PM | Report abuse

Hey! NZ gets on the board!

Posted by: Sean | August 12, 2007 2:41 PM | Report abuse

ok you are 4 goals up but still that was a wasted chance by Kai. She had 1 teammate clearly open and she opted to take on a defender 1-on-1.

Posted by: Bart | August 12, 2007 2:44 PM | Report abuse

I can't believe Kristin Lilly is still playing. And not just playing but playing 79 minutes in a friendly game. That's longevity.

Posted by: Bart | August 12, 2007 2:47 PM | Report abuse

The ESPN2 crew noted that Lilly has more caps than all of the Kiwis combined.

I'm surprised we've gotten this far without any snarky comments about those gold uniforms.

Posted by: Go Penn State! | August 12, 2007 2:51 PM | Report abuse

The USWNT is a bit short on really good dribblers who can take people on one-on-one; they also don't have an obvious playmaker. I sometimes think about the George Mason side that won the 1985 NCAA championship, before there was a USWNT. Those folks were definitely born a few years too soon. I think that the stars of that team, such as Lisa Gmitter and Betsy Drambour, could teach today's WNT a thing or two, especially about dribbling.

Posted by: Go Penn State! | August 12, 2007 3:22 PM | Report abuse

Attendance: 7,015
Shots: 33-2
Corners: 16-0

Not much of a match. Real stuff is a month away.

Posted by: Goff | August 12, 2007 3:24 PM | Report abuse

Two goals for Wambach, two for Lloyd, one each for Lilly and Tarpley. NZ scores on a PK. 6-1

USA-Finland Aug. 25 at Home Depot Center

Posted by: Goff | August 12, 2007 3:25 PM | Report abuse

Hard to learn much from that. Puzzled that Osborne didn't get more time, especially with the game in her backyard. Hard to imagine that Lloyd isn't a starter after today. Also, why mess around with a formation you probably won't use, especially one that leaves mids on the bench when mids are the ones it seems like you still need to get sorted out? ANd as Foudy kept saying, why not use the lead to practice situations? Puzzling game.

Posted by: WNT fan | August 12, 2007 3:41 PM | Report abuse

Responding to a couple of questions about Lloyd earning a starting role: She has been a starter for most of the last year. Today was the first match to open with her on the bench in a while.

I think the unusual formation was used because there may indeed be a match-up in the WC that calls for it. The WNT knows the 4-3-3, and has used a more standard 4-4-2 a few times. Trying out another looks gives them more options.

Posted by: Ash | August 12, 2007 5:57 PM | Report abuse

Sounds like you're right on. Wambach says: "We're tinkering with a few different systems right now trying to figure out what's going to work out best against our first opponent, North Korea, in the World Cup."

Posted by: WNT fan | August 12, 2007 10:15 PM | Report abuse

Interesting that Ripken's first trip in his new job as "Sports Ambassador" for the State Dept is China in September, but press releases don't mention WWC. Cal was a top notch HS soccer player. Insider maybe you can hitch a ride with Cal. Cal and Condi don't eat no stale bagels . . . .

Posted by: WNT fan | August 13, 2007 9:31 AM | Report abuse

MIA? Where was Hucles? Not listed as "subs not used."

Posted by: Mark | August 14, 2007 2:18 PM | Report abuse

"Where was Hucles?"

They were presumably limited to 18 players for this match, give or take. Someone had to be dropped. Since Hucles' status on the 21-player China-bound side is secure, I wouldn't read too much into it.

Posted by: Go Penn State! | August 14, 2007 7:24 PM | Report abuse

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