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The Air Over Here

I apologize. I should not have taken a swipe at Tianjin upon my arrival yesterday. (No, um, I have not been pressured to write this.) Actually, a closer look through the haze today has revealed wide boulevards, an amusement park, 12 islands in East and West Lake, a zoo, the famed Goubuli steamed stuffed buns and the Wuda roads neighborhood in Heping District, lined with hundreds of European-style villas built in the 1920 and '30s. We are close to the sea and the Great Wall at Huangya Pass. No doubt, the city has character.


(You knew that was coming, didn't you?)

The air, oh, that air. It (gasp) has (ack) a certain Cream of Wheat quality to it.

Not surprisingly, it became a brief topic of discussion during the USA news conference this afternoon.

"For me personally," Abby Wambach said, "it hasn't really changed the way I've played, the way it has affected my lungs, and I can probably speak for the rest of us....."

She was then interrupted, coincidentally or not, by Coach Greg Ryan coughing. "Left over from Shanghai," Ryan said, smiling.

".....we do train in L.A.," she continued, "and we've just been training in many different cities, we travel all over the world, so we don't really feel like anything is going to affect us, weather wise."

When Abby's playing career is over, she has a future in diplomacy.

From a 2005 German study:

The air quality in Tianjin has worsened during the past decades due to its functioning as a heavy industrial center. The national air quality standards are exceeded most frequently for dust, SO2 and CO. The major sources of air pollution are coal smoke and wind-blown dust, with the rapid growth in automobile pollution. But thanks to the environmental regulations and pollution control measures, air quality has improved slightly over the recent years.

So there is hope for a deep breath someday. Just not today. By the way, Tianjin will be a venue for Olympic soccer next summer.

Anyway, with the USA-England quarterfinal a day away (8 a.m. Eastern, ESPN2), click here to read about increasing parity in the women's game and how it has impacted the U.S. team. And be sure to check back at late Friday/early Saturday for my story on the status of women's soccer in England.

By Steve Goff  |  September 21, 2007; 3:10 AM ET
Categories:  Women  
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Next: Geeky Stats from the WWC


Is rain predicted for tomorrow, or will the only "elements" issue be the air?

Thought others might enjoy this article on Women's Goal Keepers with quotes from Hope Solo and Rachel Brown (Eng's keeper)

Posted by: emanon | September 21, 2007 8:32 AM | Report abuse

Enjoyed today's piece. I hope you're right about Ryan recognizing the problem, though it's hard to square his emphasis one day on direct attack, and not banging the ball around the middle of the park, with his comments the next day about needing better possession. We'll see.

Yeah they miss Mia, who wouldn't. But also Milbrett. 1+1 was greater than 2. In terms of dynamic finishing, I could be wrong, but I don't recall Mia scoring many if any goals in the last couple knock-out rounds. The big goals that I recall in 03 and 04 knock-outs came from Wambach, Lilly, O'Reilly and Tarpley -- of course no doubt Mia's presence influenced that. Still I'm not sure that without better midfield possession and ball movement, especially given the increasing parity, the US could create the same kind of opportunities for a Mia or Milbrett (or vice versa). Set pieces might be key tomorrow. England has given up a few.

Posted by: WNT fan | September 21, 2007 9:51 AM | Report abuse

At least they're not playing in Beijing, especially during the infamous dust storms.

For the Olympics, the government is going to shut down factories and plants, then restrict private automobile traffic based on even/odd license plate numbers. And that's only to get the air quality to as good (bad) as LA's.

Posted by: Larry | September 21, 2007 9:53 AM | Report abuse

I vividly recall seeing the brownish-yellow haze over Beijing as our plane descended toward it. Ironically, given your statements, Goff, about Chengdu's air quality, it was there that we began to taste somewhat breathable air. The air was at its worse along the east coast (in Beijing and Shanghai) and improved as we moved west (Xian and Chunquing were better but still not good). Somehow, I went for a morning run in every city we went, and felt more threatened by the traffic (cars and bicycles) than by the air quality.

Posted by: ho | September 21, 2007 10:12 AM | Report abuse

Show Fenty your support for DCU's Poplar Point Plan:

Posted by: jgildea | September 21, 2007 10:54 AM | Report abuse

A friend in Florida sent me the following story from the Orlando Sentinel:

Also, I wish to remind people that tomorrow's USA-England match falls within the normal weekend hours of operation at Summers ( Can anyone recommend other places that would be open at that hour?

Posted by: Section 410 | September 21, 2007 11:39 AM | Report abuse

Is rain predicted for tomorrow, or will the only "elements" issue be the air?

The Weather Channel says that at kickoff time, the skies are expected to be clear, with a temperature of 68F, but with very high humidity. (At this time, about midnight, Tianjin is shrouded in fog.)

Posted by: Section 410 | September 21, 2007 11:53 AM | Report abuse

A friend in Florida sent me the following story from the Orlando Sentinel:

Thanks 410. I've deleted the period so that the link works.

Posted by: I-270, Exit 1 | September 21, 2007 12:14 PM | Report abuse

Section 410: I checked the Lucky Bar website and it doesn't look like they're opening early for the match.
The Diner in Adams Morgan will probably have it on, but the games I've watched there have been sound off, with just 2 or 3 random people watching...not much better than home except for the bottomless cup of coffee...

Posted by: cat | September 21, 2007 12:35 PM | Report abuse

Interesting to look back now on this Millbrett "exit interview" in 2004:

"We've struggled with the high-quality teams who are equal on the physical front, equal on the height front and equal on everything, but they have been able to play soccer better. You can't go away from the essence of the game, and that is the ball on the ground and combination play, and players clicking, and people making runs and being connected."

Posted by: WNT fan | September 21, 2007 12:37 PM | Report abuse

What a fascinating, prescient "exit interview!" The funny thing is that as a player, Heinrichs, along with Carin Jennings, supplied much of the creative footwork on the wings that complemented Akers in the middle. One wonders whether what Heinrichs the coach would have made of Heinrichs the player. I vaguely recall that Milbrett tried to make a comeback under Ryan after Heinrichs rode off into the sunset, but that it didn't go anywhere. That may or may not tell us something about Ryan.

BTW, apropos of an earlier discussion of Jim Gabarra as a possible future WNT coach, shouldn't his roommate also be considered?

Posted by: Section 410 | September 21, 2007 1:42 PM | Report abuse

I think TM came back just long enough to collect her 100th cap and a round number of goals, maybe 200? I wonder what she is doing now.

There is one current player who comes to my mind in terms of the "creativity" people seem to miss -- Casey Nogueira.

Posted by: WNT fan | September 21, 2007 2:20 PM | Report abuse

"Show Fenty your support for DCU's Poplar Point Plan:"


Posted by: DCAustinite | September 21, 2007 2:57 PM | Report abuse

"Show Fenty your support for DCU's Poplar Point Plan:"

I'm sure everyone here knows this already, but you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. Please keep this in mind when entering a comment.

Posted by: I-270, Exit 1 | September 21, 2007 3:13 PM | Report abuse

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