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U.S. Thoughts

Plenty of quality storylines to explore leading up to the U.S.-Sweden Women's World Cup match here Friday in Chengdu, all of which I will chronicle in my Thursday print edition story. For now, I offer you a few lively quotes from the U.S. media briefing this afternoon at the team hotel.

Coach Greg Ryan, on Abby Wambach's physical nature: "We told her after last night that we're going to give her the Braveheart Award. She is going to end up with a sword in her side, one in her head and she's still going to be playing. She's just a great player, she's got a tremendous heart, she's brave as a lion and she leads our team. We were down a goal yesterday, she comes back on the field, blood on her head, blood on her shirt, and just gives everything she has. She's really the heart and soul of this team."

Ryan, on Hope Solo recovering from her error: "Obviously, she knows the ball that went through her hands was a mistake and every goalkeeper that has ever played the game has made one like that. On a wet day, those kinds of things can happen. But I think this kind of experience makes a young player a great player. We haven't had many changes in goal over the years and now Hope is our goalkeeper, and this is the time you put them in this cauldron and it makes a player great, not only for now but for the future."

Wambach, on her absence while being stitched up: "I was joking around with Kristine [Lilly] and some of the other veterans, saying my legs feel real good today. 'Yeah, you had 11 minutes off in that second half. We were running around for you.' "

Wambach, responding to a Swedish reporter's assertion that some Sweden players believe she takes dives: "I think it's interesting they say that. They are a tough team and I am not going to really comment to that. I just think it's important to play within the rules of the game. I am a bigger player so if you are a bigger player, people tend to think that they can hit you harder, and that's just not the case. I bruise as easily as everybody else, I cut and bleed as much as everybody else. I'm not worried about that. I think the score will show who is the best team."

Wambach, asked about her toe injury: "My toe is a little sore today. I've been shooting up before every practice getting it numb. The toe is not an issue -- toe, head, whatever, I don't really care. I'll play with a broken bone, it doesn't matter."

That's it for now. Join me for a live online chat at this link on at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday. All soccer-related questions are welcome.

By Steve Goff  |  September 12, 2007; 3:12 AM ET
Categories:  Women  
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I'm glad to hear you got a break from the usual 1:00 p.m. (1:00 a.m. Chengdu time) time slot for the chat.

Will you be following the matches that are about to kick off in Hangzhou and Wuhan in real time? Do you get BSPN and BSPN2 and/or other English-language outlets in your hotel, at the stadium, or elsewhere?

Posted by: Section 410 | September 12, 2007 4:51 AM | Report abuse

All the matches are on Chinese TV. Channel 5, I believe. Most are live, some taped. Not sure how much I'll watch tonight.

Posted by: Goff | September 12, 2007 4:55 AM | Report abuse

With Abby, it is a case of the bigger they are, the harder they fall. She has been target since her Freedom days -- to stop her they have to double team her.

Posted by: ljo211 | September 12, 2007 5:51 AM | Report abuse

Was Greg Ryan trying to channel Ray Hudson with his Abbey description?

Posted by: Kim | September 12, 2007 6:48 AM | Report abuse

I lurve Abby. Thanks for the great coverage Goff!

Posted by: Saro | September 12, 2007 6:51 AM | Report abuse internet connection is finally working again and Brazil 5 - New Zeland 0 while Australia 4 - Ghana 1.

Posted by: sitruc | September 12, 2007 7:00 AM | Report abuse

Abby is a worthy successor to Michelle.

Here's to our women warriors. Any time I need to shut up those who denigrate the women's game I just mention Akers. Now Wambach provides new ammunition.

Posted by: seahawkdad | September 12, 2007 8:23 AM | Report abuse

If Abby's the heart and soul of the team then we are in big trouble. She didn't do anything the last 20 minutes of the game so I guess she was tired but that's not showing the heart of a champion. The coach compounded the team's lack of confidence by unchacteristically screaming the whole game which did nothing to settle a deer in the headlights USA team. Friday will decide their fate but the smart money is on an early trip home for them.

Posted by: ryan | September 12, 2007 8:39 AM | Report abuse

still scratching my head over a couple things

* Why did it take more than 10 minutes to put 2 stitches in a scalp wound and get Wambach back on the field? Why would you need to leave the field to do it? I seem to remember McBride getting stitched up pretty quickly in Germany, and pretty sure it was on the sideline -- maybe it is easier on the face than the scalp?

* What was up with that formation? Why would you put the youngest player on the team, a defender, in a quasi-midfield role, when you've got world-class defensive midfielders on the bench? Has the WNT played in a 3-back system in international competition in 10 years? I don't remember it, but it might have happened. I read a Ryan quote (on that he was "pleased" with the results of the experiment. How can that be? I can't believe that he's serious. I hope not.

*Abby getting her toe shot up before every practice is not a good sign. And talking about it to the press is not wise.

Posted by: WNt fan | September 12, 2007 9:07 AM | Report abuse

"...the toe is not an issue -- toe, head, whatever, I don't really care. I'll play with a broken bone, it doesn't matter."

That's just awesome. Someone ought to post that in every MLS locker room so some of the pansies that drop and roll every time somebody gets near them sees how the game ought to be played.

Posted by: Joe Doc | September 12, 2007 9:17 AM | Report abuse

I trust that anyone who is recording these matches for later viewing has long since realized that real-time information routinely appears on this blog, but just in case:
Canada had an upset in the making, but Norway equalized early in the second half. China and Denmark both scored in quick succession, leaving China up 2-1.

Posted by: Section 410 | September 12, 2007 9:19 AM | Report abuse

Interesting article about Emilio, by Steinberg:

Honduras is talking about calling him up? I thought he was Brazilian -- did he get his citizenship while he was playing there?

Posted by: RK | September 12, 2007 9:39 AM | Report abuse

I am an early riser and have been able to catch some of the games in the morning while working out at the gym. I have to say that I have been pretty impressed so far by some of the matches.
The England- Japan was a thriller yesterday. Brazil was impressive this morning vs. New Zealand.
Some great individual talents as well...(Daniela, Marta for Brazil, Eniola Aluko and Kelly Smith for England..). I am definitely hooked! I feel that the level has improved a lot since the last WWC (Or is it just me)?

Posted by: Charles | September 12, 2007 9:45 AM | Report abuse

Norway 2 Canada 1
China 3 Denmark 2

Posted by: sitruc | September 12, 2007 9:51 AM | Report abuse

Both goals scored while wambach was out, and she certainly didn't seem to be that effective when she returned (besides roaring like william wallace?!?!?). Ryan should have been the brave one and called for a sub. Guarantee that one of the 2 goals would not have been scored if we were full strength.

Between his formation experiments and poor decisions, they are coaching themselves out of this WWC.

Posted by: J-Mart | September 12, 2007 9:54 AM | Report abuse

Abby Wambach = Brian McBride. Not just grit and tenacity, but also the ability to score on land or in the air.

Reminds me of this quote:

"The Valkyrie at my side is shouting and laughing with the pure, hateful, bloodthirsty joy of the slaughter."
--- Dwight in Sin City

Posted by: I-270, Exit 1 | September 12, 2007 10:00 AM | Report abuse

Lots of slagging for the US Team; no credit to the North Koreans? The outcome was decided solely by the US and not by the superior play of NK? The No. 5 team in the world?

Before we question the tactics, heart and skill of the US, we might want to acknowledge the presence of the other team in deciding the outcome over 90 minutes.

Posted by: JkR | September 12, 2007 10:01 AM | Report abuse

JkR: A number of us gave credit to the North Koreans on the match and aftermath threads. We see both sides of the field. However, the US tactics (IMO) gave the North Koreans the opportunity to exploit our weaknesses, which they did.

Posted by: I-270, Exit 1 | September 12, 2007 10:09 AM | Report abuse

To me it's poor coaching, that you'd have your team play a man down for 10 minutes against a fit, speed-demon team in a World Cup while your "star" gets treatment on the sideline. What are the other players supposed to think? "Why am I here?" If there was ever a time to sub somebody, it was then. If we're so dependent on one player, then we shouldn't get out of the first round.

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

OT - so far there haven't been any comments regarding the refs in the WC which is a good thing; however, guessing there are some people in Brazil with words regarding the ref of this game (allowed a goal "scored" by the ball boy)

Posted by: emanon | September 12, 2007 10:27 AM | Report abuse

I haven't read much questioning of the heart or skill of the WNT players. The tactics, yes. And the preparation -- NK unconventional tactics on set pieces among other things, and using a formation that I don't think anyone ever saw them play before . . . including perhaps the players themselves. Maybe US are the "mysterious" ones, not NK, and as a competitor to Insider (who shall not be named here) pointed out, maybe it is NK, not US, who is the "best team no one has heard of." So the vibe I pick up is, yes, all credit to NK, that was good stuff, clinical and brave, but where were the tactical adjustments to deal with them? I mean the US midfield was just shredded all day long.

I have to think that these questions were put to Ryan forcefully in the US media press conference, but it sounds like we need to wait until tomorrow's print Post, or a competitor's site, to hear the answers.

Posted by: Still a HUGE WNT Fan | September 12, 2007 10:31 AM | Report abuse

Folks, let's not throw Ryan under the bus just yet. After all, he's 39W-0L-8T.

As for the North Korea game, I think it was just the wake-up call the team needed. USA rolls all the way to hoisting the cup from here.

Posted by: CMJ | September 12, 2007 11:17 AM | Report abuse

re chat

" Sorry, Steve is a little under the weather and won't be able to join us for the discussion today. We'll reschedule for next week."

Hope it's just a bit of lingering jet-lag and that you feel better soon.

Posted by: emanon | September 12, 2007 11:38 AM | Report abuse

Fire Ryan!

Posted by: RK | September 12, 2007 12:17 PM | Report abuse

I agree that NK played a great game and that they should be the disappointed team with the outcome of the game. if anyone deserved the win it was NK.

However, I am glad this happened on the first match of the cup instead of a more heavily weighted game. Lets face it, we haven't encountered much adversity in the running up to this competition. So its good to see us fight for a result against a better team (at least for that day).

Hopefully ryan will learn rom this experience (i have no doubt the players did) and understand that the World Cup is a team competition. Unless his only goal is to have wambach win the golden boot, he needs to start "strategerizing" and applying common sense. But enough about his f-ups, i give him a pass for his first wc game and look forward to the team doing better in the future (its not like the men's team is knocking on the door!).

Posted by: J-Mart | September 12, 2007 2:49 PM | Report abuse

Ryan said in the press conference that US has had used 3-4-3 with good success against China and Brazil, but that was not true in last two Brazil games (2004, 2007), or China 2007 or 2004 Olympic send-off, which were 4 back. I wonder when is the last time they played 3 back in an international game.

Posted by: WNT fan | September 12, 2007 2:59 PM | Report abuse

"Folks, let's not throw Ryan under the bus just yet. After all, he's 39W-0L-8T."

8 TIES!!!

Where's my MetroBus schedule...

Posted by: Joe Doc | September 12, 2007 3:12 PM | Report abuse

Maybe I wasnt quite awake watching the game after 3 hours sleep, but I thought the US defense was in panic mode for most of the game. They just cleared the ball to the North Koreans so that they could come right back at them. There were times when thy had ample space to link up with the mid-field or another defender, but instead got rid of the ball as fast as they could. I think Foudy was being nice saying that Boxx has to play better than she did. There was no leadership in the back. They were out of shape. The North Koreans looked like they could go another 90 minutes at full speed. Are we that out of shape or is that freak of a leader having his athletes injected with something. That said, I think it will seem like the Swedes are the Slowski's. I Predict a 4-0 thrashing of Sweden on Friday.

Posted by: CB9 | September 12, 2007 4:18 PM | Report abuse

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