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USA Shakeup!

In a stunning move on the eve of his team's Women's World Cup semifinal against Brazil, U.S. Coach Greg Ryan has dropped starting goalkeeper Hope Solo and inserted veteran Briana Scurry.

Solo has been the team's No. 1 keeper for two years and started the first four matches of this tournament, allowing two goals in the opener against North Korea but registering three shutouts since. However, Ryan said he made the change for tactical reasons.

"The way the Brazilians play, in terms of creating off the dribble in the penalty box and making a goalkeeper make reaction-type saves, I think Bri is the best goalkeeper in the world in those situations," Ryan explained.

He said he has not made a decision about who would start in Sunday's final, should the Americans advance.

Asked if he thought the decision would affect Solo's confidence, Ryan said: "That's not our concern. We came here to try to win a world championship. ... We're not looking at long term; long term Hope is going to be fantastic, she's had a great tournament, she might be back in, who knows?"

Scurry -- who started in the 1996 and 2004 Olympics, as well as the 1995, 1999 and 2003 World Cups -- has not played a full 90 minutes since facing Brazil in a friendly in June. She has had some of the best performances of her career against Brazil, including the 1999 World Cup semifinals and 2004 Olympic gold medal game. Solo has never faced Brazil.

"Bri is a great goalkeeper and a great matchup because of her quickness and agility, and against a team that creates chances in the box off the dribble, off quick combinations and Bri's reaction time has been fantastic recently [in training] -- by far the fastest I've ever heard of," Ryan said.

Said Solo: "Of course, I want to play but it's coach's decision. ... I was very taken back, but that's the nature of sports. ... As much as I was stunned, I guess it's the thing that happens."

"It is a tactical decision on his part. ... I didn't see it coming when he sat me down last night. [But] the moment I got tapped on the shoulder saying we need to meet with you I had a pit in my stomach and I knew what the deal was."

Said Scurry: "A few months ago Greg and I discussed it and if we run into Brazil I might be playing, so last night I found that was in fact the case. ... I am a great shot stopper and I can read the ball really well, and Brazil is a team that is going to get their chances no matter what you do. They are very tricky on the ball and I have pretty good reflexes so I guess Greg felt that that was the matchup he wanted."

I will have much more on this issue in Thursday's print edition and on washingtonpost.com

How do you feel about a goalkeeping change at this point in a major tournament?

By Steve Goff  |  September 26, 2007; 6:15 AM ET
Categories:  Women  
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Comments

2-1 Brazil

Posted by: Rob Iola | September 26, 2007 7:04 AM | Report abuse

hhhmmmmmmmm

this took me by surprise

Posted by: vasco | September 26, 2007 7:07 AM | Report abuse

Coach Ryan must know that he will be second guessed forever should the US lose to Brazil now, so he must feel very good about making such a move. As good as Hope has played in the last 3 games (and she has made some brillant saves), Bri is probably in the head of a lot of the Brazilians. A very gutsy move, to say the least.

Posted by: Dsmac | September 26, 2007 7:11 AM | Report abuse

Changing keepers on the eve of a match affects the entire team's confidence and the way it plays from back to front. BAD MOVE! Brazil 2-1.

Posted by: DJC | September 26, 2007 7:19 AM | Report abuse

Gutsy move to say the least. If it works out and Briana makes a bunch of saves, Ryan comes out looking like a genius (are we even allowed to call soccer coaches genius or is that reserved solely for NFL coaches?).

Posted by: Bart | September 26, 2007 7:34 AM | Report abuse

It appears he's been planning this for a while now. I was surprised, but it's a gutsy move. As others have said, he'll be second-guessed forever by all 70 of the USWNT fans if Brazil prevails.

Posted by: Ash | September 26, 2007 7:40 AM | Report abuse

One other point - I think Solo is definitely the better keeper when it comes to ball distribution and positioning. However, in her time as starter, she's never successfully saved a penalty and is without a doubt slower than Bri. Except for her blunder against NK, she never lets anything in that SHOULD be stopped. But she rarely comes up with a Bri-type save where she stops a goal that should go in. You've got to expect shots like that against Brazil.

Posted by: Ash | September 26, 2007 7:44 AM | Report abuse

I'm not sure Greg Ryan handled this the best. If it was a tactical issue that he had discussed months in advance, as Scurry stated, then he should have discussed it with Solo prior to the beginning of the tournament as well. He doesn't have to, but you'd think that with the Solo being the keeper for the foreseeable future, you wouldn't just drop her like this in the semis of the World Cup. I don't think you could ever do this with a men's team at the semifinal stage if you weren't rotating keepers beforehand, no way.

Posted by: G-Dub | September 26, 2007 7:45 AM | Report abuse

Ash, make that 71 fans, please. You forgot to count me.
...
Between Ryan's odd delay and selection of substitutions against England and this last-day change, I wonder if he's bending under the pressure. Not cracking yet, but bending. 51 straight games without a defeat is quite a record, but quite a burden as well...

Posted by: Stevan | September 26, 2007 7:46 AM | Report abuse

if the US wins, I agree with the move

Posted by: JSF | September 26, 2007 7:56 AM | Report abuse

heh - Greg knows his team the best. Bri did great against Brazil at that friendly. I'm impressed he did this move - it takes guts!

3-0 USA

Posted by: bobf | September 26, 2007 8:00 AM | Report abuse

Tough call, but props to Greg for having the guts to make it. I think he's done a terrible job w/ subs and tactics this tournament, so this better work.

Why is is that our National coaches (men and women's teams) suddenly panic on the main stage? Can't they handle the pressure?

Posted by: Mark | September 26, 2007 8:01 AM | Report abuse

I liked Scurry better leading up to the tournament, but Solo was the #1. Changing things now is a huge shakeup.

Posted by: sitruc | September 26, 2007 8:04 AM | Report abuse

If Scurry knew about this before the tournament then he should have told Solo too.

Posted by: tim | September 26, 2007 8:10 AM | Report abuse

Doh!

Posted by: readingfromCH | September 26, 2007 8:10 AM | Report abuse

Not so sure about the timing of this. No matter how logical it is, it does shake the rest of the team, so making such a change just prior to match day is risky. Could have done this a couple of days ago and allowed time for things to settle. No pun intended, but I hope this works out....

Posted by: Why now | September 26, 2007 8:15 AM | Report abuse

How did Solo win the starting job two years ago? Was it just a desire for youth or the footwork or something else? What's the back story?

Posted by: Marsha | September 26, 2007 8:23 AM | Report abuse

If they win and Scurry play great then he may look smart, but if they lose this game Ryan should 100% be let go as the USWNT coach. A bold change and while you can't automatically pin a the blame for a possible loss on this decision the day before kickoff regardless of how Scurry plays in goal this move will affect every player on the team on an emotional level. I'm sure Solo has teammates that are PO'd and it will affect their play. When I read the news of the change my initial thought was that they just lost the game..........
So fire up the noontime tommorow Insider post Goff where you ask our thoughts on who the next Women's national team coach will be!

Posted by: Piney O | September 26, 2007 8:31 AM | Report abuse

Why was this change made public over 24 hours in advance? Why didn't Ryan simply reserve the right to identify his starting keeper, along with the other 10 starters, an hour before kickoff? Why give Brasil the opportunity to evaluate whether and how to tweak their own lineup, tactics, etc.?

On another matter, is the dollar dropping against the yuan, as it is against a lot of other currencies? Will the Post be taking a bath on your escapades, Goff?

Posted by: Section 410 | September 26, 2007 8:38 AM | Report abuse

Norway may have just gotten an own goal or maybe Prinz got a record goal. Who knows?

Posted by: sitruc | September 26, 2007 8:43 AM | Report abuse

Kind of like cutting your captain just before the world cup; and we all remember how well that turned out.

I think it's a big mistake, given he hasn't had her playing at all. Plus, it completely changes the dynamics in the back just before the most important game -- so far -- of the tournament. We'll see; but making a change like this that's a surprise to just about everyone can't be good for any team.

Posted by: Hacksaw | September 26, 2007 8:58 AM | Report abuse

A stunner for sure. Still I'm more concerned with how Ryan intends to match up with the Brazilians in the midfield. If we give them time, we might need Solo and Scurry in the goal at the same time. On the other hand, if we can possess in the midfield, just long enough, we will get chances against this team. Their outside backs showed vulnerability against AUS, and mentally -- I think soft as a grape. Maybe Ryan plans to just rain long balls on them until they make a mistake, which odds are they will.

Also key, can we get behind the ball and stay there in transition. Boxx and hopefully also Osborne need to deny or affect those long range strikes.

The time for Lilly to be sending free kicks over or wide, the time to be sending volley chances over, that time is past. She needs to come up big in this game -- as she has so many times before -- this is why she is on the field. Predict she comes up large.

The refs will matter. These teams will come out hard. If refs try to take control early, and start throwing cards, they'll need to keep throwing if the women don't back off. And then you end up potentially in short-handed either way or both ways. On the other hand, if the refs don't control, you could see key injuries. They WILL go after Abby, and if refs allow it then you will see Marta on the ground before long. I hope it doesn't get to that but it might.

USA!!! 3 -- brazil 1.

"The Best Team You Never Heard Of" -- in the print Post the photo on E4 mis-identifies 4 of the 6 jogging US players.

Posted by: WNT fan | September 26, 2007 9:01 AM | Report abuse

When did Steve Sampson take over the women's team? Perhaps we should switch to the vaunted 3-6-1 as well. Didn't that work well in France???

Posted by: Shawn | September 26, 2007 9:03 AM | Report abuse

So why did Scurry know about this for months but not Solo?

I suppose coaches feel like they get paid to think a lot and make decisions, but sometimes the best decision is to not make one. But hey, what could go wrong?

Posted by: Matt | September 26, 2007 9:07 AM | Report abuse

"Why was this change made public over 24 hours in advance? Why didn't Ryan simply reserve the right to identify his starting keeper, along with the other 10 starters, an hour before kickoff? Why give Brasil the opportunity to evaluate whether and how to tweak their own lineup, tactics, etc.?

On another matter, is the dollar dropping against the yuan, as it is against a lot of other currencies? Will the Post be taking a bath on your escapades, Goff?"
------

ESPN broke the story, citing sources, early this morning. Ryan had no choice but to address it.

Food and taxis are cheap in China. Hotels are reasonable.

Posted by: Goff | September 26, 2007 9:08 AM | Report abuse

Section 410: China's central bank keeps the exchange rate fixed at about 8 yuan to a dollar.

Posted by: Ferg | September 26, 2007 9:15 AM | Report abuse

Giving that the Samba Queens have been fairly successful at roofing the ball from long distance, wingspan may also be a factor. I get the impression that Solo has a slight edge in that department.

Posted by: Section 410 | September 26, 2007 9:20 AM | Report abuse

Another deflected shot makes it 2-0 Germany over Norway

Posted by: sitruc | September 26, 2007 9:30 AM | Report abuse

This is the first thing I read this morning, (after my work-related e-mails of course) and I am completely stunned.

As mentioned before, Ryan had better win with this move. And I'm glad to see that we are acting like Brazilians.

Posted by: I-270, Exit 1 | September 26, 2007 9:31 AM | Report abuse

No deflections this time... Mueller makes it 3-0 Germany

Posted by: sitruc | September 26, 2007 9:32 AM | Report abuse

Somebody needs to shut their God D*#@ed mouth! While I don't agree with the decision on any level, this change would have had a much greater impact if Brazil were unable to prepare for it. Now that the cat is out of the bag, the potential is endless. Brazil can fire themselves up and turn this into a revenge match and have a scurry film fest while they're at it.

Hopefully this change in events will put solo back into the starting XI, catching them off guard (again). I liked how the team was looking and now you go make a change like this. I have said it before and I am saying it again; Ryan is coaching his team right out of the WWC.

I hope I am very wrong about this and scurry ends up not having to make save all day and we win big.

Posted by: J-Mart | September 26, 2007 9:35 AM | Report abuse

Had Keller and company lost in the semis vs. Canada, we never would've heard the end of the "Fire Bradley" posts. Ryan has everything to lose by doing this.
---
Americans Giuseppe Rossi and Danny Szetela face off today. Ok, their teams (Villarreal, Racing de Santander) face off, with Rossi starting but Danny still yet to make it on a roster.

Posted by: RK | September 26, 2007 9:44 AM | Report abuse

Dumb move.

1. Arena used to do this all the time (pull Garlick and put in Simpson or start Causey in the playoffs). But his GKs knew he had a quick trigger and didn't ride one GK for years all the way to success. Have a bad practice and you sat--at least when it came to his keepers. But Ryan appears to have done this differently. Solo didn't have a clue this was happening. To make this work, the entire team needs to know that you as a coach are considering this and/or you've done this move in the past and it's either based on how people are playing or tactical considerations or health. If it comes off as "a hunch" than I think it gets everyone else feeling insecure.

2. If the USA wins, I don't think it makes Ryan look like a genius. The only way he looks like a genius is if Scurry stops a couple of PKs or makes 30 saves--something phenomenal that Solo has never done.

3. To do it at this stage after going with Solo for a couple of years and actually dropping Scurry from the team for a couple of years....that makes it smell or hint of panic (even if that's not the case). If the team had Hamm or Foudy or Chastain on it, they'd probably welcome their ole bud back in goal. But most of this team is of Solo's generation. Some of them have probably never played a competitive game with Scurry in goal. Unless there is a team chemistry issue, you have to figure that some of these folks are a bit shaken.

4. The public rationale (as I understand it) is weak. You don't put someone in goal for 2 years, make them your WC starter if you feel you're at a disadvantage with them OR b/c they have trouble with tricky dribblers. Frankly, given Brazil's likely gameplan, a GK with good distribution and good organization (which are supposed to be Solo's strengths) should be critical, especially given how the US midfield has played.

4. I think Ryan is falling victim to what some of the USSF staff coaches are guilty of at times. B/c they don't necessarily coach at clubs at high levels (no,doesn't have to be the Premiership) recently, it's easy to think "well, Scurry got a lot of work in camp so she's sharp." Any good GK and any pro (even USL pro) coach would tell you that a GK who sits for a couple of years is not going to be sharp. I don't care how Scurry scores on her fitness tests or if she can beat Solo in shuttle runs and agility drills, she can't possibly be sharp. So I'm hoping that the public comments on this by Ryan are crap b/c otherwise it speaks poorly of him as a coach.

5. Unless Scurry makes a monumental error (or conversely--stands on her head in a game the Brazilians otherwise dominate), this game won't be decided by this decision. It will be decided in midfield. if our midfield steps up, our frontline will get service and the Brazilians will get few chances. And our backline is good and has played well.

Dumb decision by Ryan.

Posted by: JoeW | September 26, 2007 9:46 AM | Report abuse

It's official. Germany is in the final. They beat Norway 3-0.

Posted by: sitruc | September 26, 2007 9:50 AM | Report abuse

Marta is the best player in the world and she is there to make a difference in this game. No goalkeeper will make any difference for her. The best that can be done now is to substitute again the goalkeepers during the match, after Brazil have scored 2 goals and keep creating more dangerous chances.
Final result:
Brazil 3 X USA 0

Posted by: Ronaldinho | September 26, 2007 9:51 AM | Report abuse

I would start Kahn over Lehmann any day.

Posted by: Pino | September 26, 2007 10:01 AM | Report abuse

Solo has been favoring her elbow the last couple of games, since she fell awkwardly (against N.Korea?).

I wonder if its effecting Solo's game just a little bit?

Posted by: RobbyRevsFan | September 26, 2007 10:02 AM | Report abuse

Ryan may also be considering the possibility that tomorrow's match may go the full 120, and thinking, rightly or wrongly, that Scurry might be better in a PK derby. (Switching keepers would not be an option, as the three subs would probably all have been used on field players by that point.)

Posted by: Section 410 | September 26, 2007 10:02 AM | Report abuse

GREAT! Germany and Brazil in the final. Definitely the two best teams of this World Cup and in the world today.
Prinz is good, but Marta is greater at just 21 and this will be the beginning of Brazilian domination in Women's football, to match with the men's (IMHO, not that i take any part in that myself...)

Posted by: Ronaldinho | September 26, 2007 10:07 AM | Report abuse

Americans Giuseppe Rossi and Danny Szetela face off today.
_________________________________________

By this point calling Rossi an American sounds like a stretch, since he probably hasn't had any affiliation with a national team at any age level, nor any domestic club, since I don't know when.

Posted by: Section 410 | September 26, 2007 10:07 AM | Report abuse

I agree with WNT fan. If Ryan goes with 3 in the midfield, that'd potentially be a far bigger gaffe than switching a goalie last minute (or at least letting it leak).

Unless the team plans to spend the game sending long balls over the top, as they have several times this tournament, we need an option to play it on the ground through the midfield. And with Brazil's masterful possession and passing, we just can't leave an unmarked number to run around the middle, creating chances and breaking up our transition to offense.

Posted by: DCBird | September 26, 2007 10:08 AM | Report abuse

If Ryan thought that Solo wouldn't be up to playing Brazil all the way back when they had the summer friendly why didn't he play her then to find out?

We are taking out our #1 keeper because she has no experience with a rising power and putting in a keeper who has always been put in against this rising power because she's had good games against them. But Scurry will retire and we'll still have Solo and someday Solo will have to face Brazil. The coach doesn't believe she can but never took an opportunity to find out. That friendly meant nothing.

Posted by: bluemeanies | September 26, 2007 10:12 AM | Report abuse

RobinRevsFan said:

"Solo has been favoring her elbow the last couple of games, since she fell awkwardly (against N.Korea?).I wonder if its effecting Solo's game just a little bit?"

I think both Solo and the coaching staff have been keeping the true nature of the injury from us.

Besides, Scurry seems to play better vs. Brazil. I think Solo is in the gloves for Germany. If not, she is truly injured.

Siri Mullinix, anyone?

Posted by: Bigg | September 26, 2007 10:12 AM | Report abuse

I'll second what everyone else is saying, completely baffling decision. And I'd also second G-Dub's comments, no way this should be a shock to Solo. If Ryan knew in advance that he planned to put Scurry between the pipes against Brazil, then he should have told the whole team that well in advance of the tournament.

In addition to what this must do to Solo's confidence and the confidence of the field players who will be starting the game, can you imagine the pressure this puts on Scurry? She knows that any mistake she makes is going to bring intense criticism, both to herself and to her coach.

I've got a sinking feeling in my stomach. I feel a huge gaffe coming from Scurry.

Posted by: Matte | September 26, 2007 10:13 AM | Report abuse

Rossi has made it clear that he wants nothing to do with the USMNT or USSF. His dream is to play for Italy on the Men's team. I doubt that Bradley can succeed on this front when Arena didn't. Besides, we already have the next Saviour of American Soccer in Jozy Altidore.

Posted by: I-270, Exit 1 | September 26, 2007 10:14 AM | Report abuse

The Ken Doll has made a big mistake. Brazil 2-1

Posted by: Eugene | September 26, 2007 10:17 AM | Report abuse

Gutsy decision by Ryan. At this time tomorrow he will either be a genius or the biggest doofus since Pekerman in last year's World Cup.

I agree though this game will be won or lost in the midfield. We have lacked our usual quality there and must step up. The d-mids need to do whatever they can to deny Marta service and when they win the ball create high pressure opportunities for Abby and Chalupny.

I expect a tense physical match with someone sent off before it's over. Hopefully it won't be one of ours.

1-1, USA wins on PKs.

Posted by: CMJHawk86 | September 26, 2007 10:18 AM | Report abuse

I concur with Stevan: "Between Ryan's odd delay and selection of substitutions against England and this last-day change, I wonder if he's bending under the pressure." Add to this his interview when he said that in order to succeed in today's women's game, long-ball is the only option, then bemoans our lack of possession. I sure HOPE Steve Sampson isn't his role model!

Posted by: Mike | September 26, 2007 10:20 AM | Report abuse

All the comments saying Solo should have been told early and this will mess with her confidence ignore something.. What kind of message would it have sent to say "you are our number 1 goalie, oh unless we have to play Brazil then we don't think your shot blocking is good enough, so we will not be playing you then"

Posted by: SeanT | September 26, 2007 10:25 AM | Report abuse

In the summer, Ryan played them 3-4-3 and used Rampone and Markgraf to man mark, with Lopez in the MF. Up 2-0, he brought in Tina and went 4-4-2 to close it out. If he moves Lopez up, does Osborne sit? I hope not. Maybe Lopez sits in favor of Osborne? Then he can pair either Lloyd or Tarpley with Chalupny, and Lopez can come in to go 4-4-2 if we are in a position to close it out. IF WE CAN POSSESS -- maybe the focus on Abby frees up space for slashing mids. Tarpley is awesome at that, and Lloyd can drop long bombs equal to anything the Brazilians can strike.

Brazil is vulnerable to speed (O'Reilly) on the wing.

As Flounder said "Ooooh, this is going to be GREAT."

Posted by: WNT fan | September 26, 2007 10:31 AM | Report abuse

Hope Solo is hot, she should play. =(

Posted by: 761-091 | September 26, 2007 10:41 AM | Report abuse

Jeez, don't soil yourselves people. This is the WNT not the MNT and toughness (mental and physical) is our main relative advantage, not our glaring weakness. You're talking about one of the best big game keepers to ever play the game, and she's played scores of games with Rampone, Markgraf and to a lesser degree Whitehill. She'll be fine. They'll be fine.

Posted by: WNT fan | September 26, 2007 10:44 AM | Report abuse

One word: panic.

This shows how amateurish Greg Ryan is. Even if the USA wins, it's the wrong thing to do with the player (Solo) and the team chemistry.

The girls are scared enough of playing Brazil, they don't need extra reasons from their own coach.

Posted by: JP | September 26, 2007 10:46 AM | Report abuse

What a clown! This is going to be a disaster.

Team Chemistry means nothing to this guy I guess.

Posted by: Eric | September 26, 2007 10:48 AM | Report abuse

If they do win, who will be in goal against Germany ?

If Coach Ryan doesn't have confidence in Solo to play against Brazil, does he think she can handle the extra pressure of a WC final ?

Posted by: emanon | September 26, 2007 11:01 AM | Report abuse

As long as the team has remembered how to:

1) Pass and hold possession
2) Attack without relying solely on Abby Wambach

We'll be fine. It's not as though Greg Ryan is benching Hope Solo for Jay Nolly (sorry Jay!). It's Briana Scurry.

Posted by: B.A. | September 26, 2007 11:02 AM | Report abuse

Solo: "Hey Briana, do you have any allergies?"

Briana: "Yeah, peanuts. They make my eyes swollen shut, I feel like I'm breathing through a wet sock, and I get a relentless, pounding headache that lasts 48 hours. Why?

Solo: "Oh, nothin'."

Posted by: Joe Doc | September 26, 2007 11:07 AM | Report abuse

Watch this game becoming a soccer clinic for the US. They'll chase the ball all over the field and made to loo silly off the dribble many times.

Let's hope Abby "The Bruiser" Wambach can head a long ball into the Brazilian goal.

Thank God the Brazilians don't get to practice as a team. Otherwise, this would be a no contest.

Posted by: Anderson | September 26, 2007 11:11 AM | Report abuse

It's an odd and unsetlling move, to be sure, but I am as concerned about Solo's reaction as anything. I am hopeful Lilly's response will prevail, and the team will settle. Regardless of whether Ryan made a bad decision or made it at the wrong time or told the wrong people, Solo needs to swallow her disappointment and polish up her game face...and transmit that to the rest of the team. They can all duke it out in a locker room or pitch back in the US in October.

One other thought, if everyone else is right and a) Solo is more injured than we know and b) the game is going to get rough, Scurry is the right choice for tomorrow. She is one of the toughest players out there.

Posted by: LD | September 26, 2007 11:13 AM | Report abuse

Well, at least JP, Julie, Rob, and Heather will have another topic to beat to death.

"In 20 minutes we'll be joined by former National Team coach Tony DiCicco who will continue to re-state the obvious and agree with whatever Foudy has said."

Posted by: I-270, Exit 1 | September 26, 2007 11:19 AM | Report abuse

Brazil 2-0.

If they start caring about the women's game down there, it's over for the rest of the world.

Posted by: Jake | September 26, 2007 11:19 AM | Report abuse

Thank God the Brazilian women and their US fans never run out of excuses as to why their short end of a final score line doesn't reflect the merits of their "beautiful game."

Thank God the US has the best back line in womens soccer. Thank God the US has Abby Wambach.

And pray to God that Ryan uses 4 mids and we can possess long enough to generate chances.

Joga effing Bonita can beat Norway for 3d. That'll be a step up for them.

Posted by: WNT fan | September 26, 2007 11:20 AM | Report abuse

Or is this just yer basic psychological warfare, where Ryan puts Solo back in the lineup an hour before the game, and he, Solo and Scurry share a giggle at how they totally punked the soccer world?

Posted by: Juan-John | September 26, 2007 11:24 AM | Report abuse

Scurry should have been playing from the beginning! Solo is solid(ish) but Scurry is incredible.

Posted by: V | September 26, 2007 11:27 AM | Report abuse

I think Ken Doll is playing to win on penalty kicks. He's hoping the old saying "Deus e Brasileiro" is wrong and God is really North American.

If we lose, he should pay with his job.

Posted by: Eugene | September 26, 2007 11:28 AM | Report abuse

As a club soccer coach, I am intruigued by the decision. You have to show confidence and always balance 'risk vs return'. This move, to me, is too high profile between two solid keepers ... the game is going to be won American style with hard work and grit. This change takes away the focus.

That stated, the decision is made ... be done with it and let the coach live with his decision.

Posted by: Frank in Oregon | September 26, 2007 11:29 AM | Report abuse

I'm psyched about this game! What a great battle in contrasting styles it will be!

This (IMO, poor) decision from Greg Ryan just adds more drama to what should be a terrific game!

Let the best team prevail!

PS - Whoever wins here is likely to lose to Germany in the final off a German deflected shin shot at the 92nd minute. For those who enjoy ugly but effective soccer, Germany is a beauty!

Posted by: What A Game | September 26, 2007 11:33 AM | Report abuse

Juan-John,

Unfortunately, Greg Ryan is not that sophisticated.

Posted by: JP | September 26, 2007 11:34 AM | Report abuse

It looks to me like we've got a JV coach coaching an international side. SCurry is a better shot stopper, but Solo is no slouch and is great on corners, crosses, and distribution. This is a terrible decision, especially if it caught Solo by surprise.

The US might be the most talented team, but they fall below Germany and maybe Brazil because they are so poorly coached.

Posted by: Olieovie | September 26, 2007 11:44 AM | Report abuse

I doubt that the US women are "scared" of Brazil. They know that the Brazil women are a good, physical team and must be respected, but they also know that Brazil is hardly invulnerable. The USWNT beat Brazil last time they played (yes, I know Marta wasn't playing that day), and they saw Australia pressure Brazil on Sunday.

They found a way to take Kelly Smith out of her game, and they will try something similar with Marta, which will not be easy. They have also dealt with roster changes before a big game (Boxx in for Lloyd against England). It's all part of playing their sport at the highest level against the best teams. Coaches put out line-ups they think match well against their opponents that day.

Posted by: ho | September 26, 2007 11:44 AM | Report abuse

I beg indulgence for hopefully a final pre-game rant. If you watched Brazil/US this summer, it was not a "beautiful game." It was a game in which an overmatched and mentally and physically unprepared team tried to neutralize their distinct disadvantages with a never-ending series of vicious and (in a WWC year) potentially year-ending cheap shots. For all those who hold the Brazilians up as so "beautiful" and knock the Germans and US as "winning ugly" you should watch replays. I certainly hope that ESPN will show some of the "highlights" -- you can be damn sure that the WNT has them on a continuous loop somewhere. I agree with "ho" -- the US WNT are not scared, they're hungry.

Posted by: WNT fan | September 26, 2007 11:52 AM | Report abuse

Our WNT is organized and tough but I wonder if we're too predictable. If Brazil scores first, do we have enough possession skills and creativity to come back?

What a stupid move to sack our first GK on the eve of a WC semifinal... This is not innovation, this is stupid.

Posted by: Worried | September 26, 2007 11:53 AM | Report abuse

WNT Fan,

That was a friendly against an incomplete Brazilian squad who had not practiced together for years prior to that match. This game will be completely different.

I'm cheering for the US but I am indeed concerned about our ability to match up against THIS Brazilian team.

There's a lot of talk about their back line and how vulnerable they are, or how they lack mental toughness. I'm not so sure about that. They tend to take higher risks at the back and as such their mistakes can be more costly. However, they do that as part of being true to their own style.

In other words, unless you aimlessly clear every single ball on your defense, you're more likely to have a turnover here and there on the back. This is not mental weakness; this is being true to your style of play (and accepting the drawbacks that may come with it). Overall, they know their style (mimicked after their men's game), is the most successful in the world when properly executed.

I expect a Brazilian team that will be sharp on both sides of the ball, control the midfield and attack effectively. I think the US can match that up, but it will not be easy. I'd rather play Germany now and Brazil in the final. But, we'll deal with the circumstances as they are.

Go USA!

Posted by: Evans | September 26, 2007 12:06 PM | Report abuse

Would there be the same reaction if any other regular starter (say, Markgraf) had similarly been replaced?

Posted by: Section 410 | September 26, 2007 12:09 PM | Report abuse

"The Best Team You Never Heard Of" -- in the print Post the photo on E4 mis-identifies 4 of the 6 jogging US players.

Posted by: WNT fan | September 26, 2007 09:01 AM
________________________________________

I just got hold of the dead-tree version of the Post. How should a corrected caption read, left to right? Thanks.

Posted by: Section 410 | September 26, 2007 12:20 PM | Report abuse

All these 1-0, 2-1 score lines are rubbish. Brazil can attack but they have looked absolutely dreadful in defense; Even though I think the Scurry change is a mistake, she won't let up more than a few goals. I think it's going to be 5-2 or 5-3 US. And after all the talk by Ryan about how dirty the Brazilians were in the last match against the US, don't be surprised if a Brazilian player is red-carded early.

Posted by: hacksaw | September 26, 2007 12:47 PM | Report abuse

There is a precedent for this. Keller-Friedel in 2002. Those two have relative strengths but are both good. When Arena chose to start Friedel against S. Korea and in effect 'slight' Keller, I remember similar rumbling. And look what happened; Friedel was perfect. Give Ryan some credit.
Although I was surprised, I think it's a gutsy call. One could just as easily say that subbing Osborne is de-stabilizing to the midfield, and that the previous midfield was winning, why did you change?

I agree that Solo should've been less blind-sided by the call, but she also should've handled it better. 'I've lived through tougher things'? It isn't about you during the semis in a WC. I would've prefered, 'I was surprised and I'm disappointed I won't get to play but Brianna's awesome'.

As for why they're changing places; Brianna was off the team for a while when Solo took over. Scurry played against Brazil last time because Solo had a death in the family. No juggling of line-ups previously that I've seen.

For those who don't remember just how great Scurry was, consider that for all Chastain's heroics, there's no way we'd have won in '99 without Scurry. Solo's great, but Scurry's no slouch.

I think 3-2 US.

The other interesting question is whether Osborne will be tasked to contain Marta, or whether Brazil has way too many options to try and corral a single player.

Posted by: aaron | September 26, 2007 1:11 PM | Report abuse

An interesting move to say the least (and I hope not "interesting" in the Chinese sense...). Scurry is darn good and may be what's needed.

Natasha Kai hasn't been playing much and I hope she gets a lot of time here. Brazil is very physical.

Posted by: John in CT | September 26, 2007 1:32 PM | Report abuse

Anyone remember when Guus Hiddink made a similarly unexpected GK switch in one of Australia's group games at the World Cup last summer? That decision bit him in the butt big time and almost caused them to not make the knock out stage. I have a feeling the US will also have a bad result tomorrow.

Posted by: Forrest | September 26, 2007 1:43 PM | Report abuse

Aaron-

Friedel was made the starting Goalkeeper in before the start of the World Cup in 2002. This is changing your goalkeeper in advance of the Semifinal. I'd say that your example is a poor precedent.

This is typical coaching hubris.

Posted by: Eric | September 26, 2007 1:59 PM | Report abuse

- Greg Ryan and Jorge Barcellos (Brazil coach) met in the elevator hotel today. Jorge had been irritated (privately) about Greg's comments regarding the refereeing but they were cordial and wished each other good luck.
- Brazil has considered Greg's declarations as a tactic to pressure the refereeing during the game. Publicly both the coach and the players have adopted a diplomatic posture.
- The Chinese media reports that a pro-Brazil crowd should fill the stadium.
- Brazilian defender Tania has been given the green light to play against the US. She had hurt her shoulder against Australia. Her back up, Monica, is considered a tactical alternative as she's 6 inches taller and could be more effective against the American aerial game.
- Brazilian coach will only release the team's line up four hours before the game.
- Marta paracticed the "seal dribble" made famous by Kerlon (a Cruzeiro forward in Brazil). The dribble consists of controlling the ball on the top of your head and running at defenders. Defenders can only stop the dribble with a foul. It's unclear whether she'd attempt the dribble during the WC.
- As a show of the lack of support female Brazilian players have back home, several players survive solely on a special grant program that gives them US$100 per month.

Posted by: JP | September 26, 2007 2:02 PM | Report abuse

Photo E4. Solo, Chalupny, Rampone, NOT Tarpley (I think it is Whitehill, but it is definitely not Tarpley), Lopez and O'Reilly.

Evans -- I agree this will be different. + Marta, they're match fit, etc etc. But if that was a "friendly," what will the NOT friendly look like? All I'm saying is that when the chips are down, they're not so "beautiful," they tend to be nasty cheap shot artists, and in the US we tend to hold their foot skills and combination play up on a pedestal (correctly) and overlook their dirty play and mental lapses. As to their back line, (#1) they could not keep pace with De Vanna, (#2) they played a simple back pass into her path -- that has nothing to do with "style" or a 3-back unless making a huge gaffe in a knock-out game is "joga bonito", and (#3) they misplayed balls on the end line that resulted in needless corners. AUS had 3 shots, 2 goals. Also, they had AUS down 2-0 after like 17 minutes, with their captain on the bench, and they visibly eased up and played sloppily with the ball in the MF when they had a chance to ice it. To me, that is classic lack of mental toughness. (Coming back to score the 3d goal, however, was VERY tough.)

In the end, the US WNT will be true to THEIR style. And their style is ---- WIN. This is not figure skating, we're just counting up the goals.

Scurry by the way is 12-0 against Brazil.

Posted by: WNT fan | September 26, 2007 2:04 PM | Report abuse

I hope you're right. I could counter the points made but I think the game itself will provide us with the definitive answers.

What makes this game exciting in my opinion is that, beyond setting the finalist, it could be a landmark match to determine continued US dominance in the women's game or the emergence of a new world power.

I will be glued to the TV early in the morning!

Posted by: Evans | September 26, 2007 2:20 PM | Report abuse

And those who cannot be glued to the TV should take care in giving marching orders to their recording devices, allowing an extra 45 minutes or so for overtime and PKs.

Posted by: Section 410 | September 26, 2007 2:27 PM | Report abuse

3 Questions:
) why not make this known as an option to both GKs back in June/July? -- 'if we play Brazil, this is an option we may go with'
) why not make the decision/announcement immediately after Brazil won their quarterfinal game? why wait until 24hrs before kickoff?
) why not bolster Solo's confidence by naming her the GK for the Final? what justification would their be for benching her twice in a row?

From a pure soccer standpoint, it's a very good decision. Scurry's record against Brazil is almost perfect. From a player/team management and chemistry standpoint, it stinks. Players on women's teams are not just cogs in a machine. The separation between the personal and the professional can be much less distinct than in men's soccer.

Posted by: Ian in OH | September 26, 2007 2:40 PM | Report abuse

Comments from Ohio, Connecticut, Oregon on the WNT. I'm digging that.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 26, 2007 2:47 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, and the traffic on the corresponding NYT blog (http://goal.blogs.nytimes.com/2007/09/26/us-brazil-the-americans-switch-goalkeepers/#comments) is pretty anemic by comparison.

Posted by: Section 410 | September 26, 2007 2:51 PM | Report abuse

You ever see that Simpsons' episode where Homer gets the job as coach of the pee wee football team immediately transplants his son Bart as the starting QB ahead of the Nelson, who ended up scoring all their TDs?

Kind of reminds you of that.

Posted by: Bristol | September 26, 2007 2:55 PM | Report abuse

Section 410 - Danny Szetela will not get on the pitch at Santander, unless there's a rash of injuries or outbreak of malaria. He's simply not good enough to make the bench for a club in La Liga. Even a team as poor as Racing Santander.

Posted by: bristol | September 26, 2007 3:00 PM | Report abuse

) why not bolster Solo's confidence by naming her the GK for the Final? what justification would their be for benching her twice in a row?
_________________________________________

But nobody else has been picked to start against Germany (or Norway, in the other scenario) at this time, nor should they be, until after the Brasil match is in the books, and the coaches have had a chance to evaluate the situation in terms of injuries, cards, etc., etc.

Posted by: Section 410 | September 26, 2007 3:04 PM | Report abuse

Section 410 - Danny Szetela will not get on the pitch at Santander, unless there's a rash of injuries or outbreak of malaria. He's simply not good enough to make the bench for a club in La Liga. Even a team as poor as Racing Santander.

Posted by: bristol | September 26, 2007 03:00 PM
________________________________________

Actually, to give credit where credit is due, it was RK, not I, who first mentioned Szetela, and who in fact made essentially the same observation about his poor prospects at Santander.

Posted by: Section 410 | September 26, 2007 3:09 PM | Report abuse

What justification would there be for benching her twice in a row? When asked point blank if Solo would be back in goal for the next game, Ryan says, "I don't know." Why doesn't he know? The only justification for sitting her down for this game is Scurry's record and GAA against Brazil. Obviously, that reason is not there come Sunday. So, either Solo starts on Sunday or there's some currently unknown reason for benching a GK with her defensive record. Ryan needs to explain himself. Scurry's got a good record and arguably better skills against Brazil. We get that. So for Sunday, what?

And, no, no player has formally been named for the lineup for Sunday but does that mean asking who and why one way or another cannot be done? In addition, there are only 3 GKs on the roster and only one of them plays at one time. Ryan should be able to speak in at least some specifics concerning any player about whom he is asked, esp. GKs. If he's bringing in Scurry because it's Brazil, he should be able to say something more than "I don't know," when asked about a game in which the opponent will not be Brazil.

Finally, none of this takes away from the timing and player management issues with this.

Posted by: Ian in OH | September 26, 2007 3:23 PM | Report abuse

If Scurry turns in a performance that clearly outshines anything Solo has done so far in this tournament, she would have to be seriously considered for Sunday, even if the opponent is not Brasil. It is not as if she has not excelled against Germany, Norway, and other teams throughout her career.

Posted by: Section 410 | September 26, 2007 3:28 PM | Report abuse

My apologies Section 410.

Posted by: bristol | September 26, 2007 3:29 PM | Report abuse

Eric-
Yes, Friedel was selected as the starting GK before the 2002 WC, but Keller was not being a team player. I recall him suggesting that Arena should have alternated goalies. Imagine how bad that would have been. Take the problems with Greg Ryan's decision and multiply them by 10. In retrospect, Arena made the right decision in going with Friedel as the guy was in the zone. He stopped two PKs, and he got to punch a Mexican in the head on TV. What could be better?

Posted by: calvester | September 26, 2007 3:31 PM | Report abuse

While we're fondly remembering Steve Sampson, does anyone remember the Regis for Agoos switcheroo? Then again, Heinrichs got away with bringing in Boxx late in the process of assembling the '03 squad, but that did not clearly come at the expense of a particular incumbent, unlike Regis for Agoos (or Scurry for Solo).

Posted by: Section 410 | September 26, 2007 3:34 PM | Report abuse

Scurry is very definitely one of the all time greats of the women's game.

But, how do you make a determination on the following...

a performance that clearly outshines anything Solo has done so far in this tournament

Maybe it's possible and by extension Scurry would be starting on Sunday. But Ryan still has to explain his reasoning and most esp. not wait until Saturday night saying "I don't know" who's going to start (whichever game they're in).

Posted by: Ian in OH | September 26, 2007 3:45 PM | Report abuse

I'm as surprised as anyone but I'm not going to sweat the decision. The coach is paid to make those decisions and he knows the players and the situation better than anyone. Scurry has always showed the kind of leadership a goalie should have and won't let her defenders rest if they're giving the Brazilians too much space. It's going to be up to the midfielders and defenders to protect the goalie no matter who it is, as usual.

I like Solo's presence in the goal, but Briana presents an intimidating figure as well. I believe the other players are very comfortable with Briana in goal and they're well over it by now. I'm looking forward to a great match with the US coming out on top!

Posted by: Marty | September 26, 2007 3:52 PM | Report abuse

The fact that Ryan said "I don't know" doesn't mean that he doesn't know, or that Solo and Scurry don't know. If that makes sense. Why should he tell the press and opponents who he's playing 2 games out, when the press don't even know yet who's playing tomorrow, besides Scurry (do they?) I'm repeating myself, but I care a lot more about whether Osborne starts, and how many midfielders we have, than who plays goal.

Posted by: WNT fan (in DC) | September 26, 2007 3:53 PM | Report abuse

Micromanagement by WNT coaches is not without precedent. Remember Heinrichs benching Rampone in the 2003 semi-final against Germany. Her replacement, Kylie Bivens, unnecessarily conceded a corner kick early in the game that resulted in Germany's first goal. It was all downhill from there. To my knowledge, Heinrichs never stated why she did that. At least in Ryan's case, you might argue that both goalkeepers are interchangeable (there are a lot of other reasons NOT to make that decision that have already been stated). In the case of Rampone vs. Bivens, we're not talking about equals. Rampone had way more experience, and was just plain better in all aspects of the game. Heinrichs did not announce that decision before the game, and maybe that's why she got to keep her job until the following Olympics. I agree with Eugene that Ryan should have his job on the line with this decision.

Is anyone else confused by Ryan saying that Brazil will force a goalkeeper to make 'reaction type saves'. Don't you have to react to make any type of save? What is a 'non-reaction save'? When it bangs off the crossbar?

Posted by: calvester | September 26, 2007 4:03 PM | Report abuse

Calvester,

I agree with you. Ryan's logic is confusing.

What I infer from his statement is that Scurry has quicker reflexes than Solo. I think he foresees Brazil penetrating the box with short passes and requiring quick reactions from the keeper at close range.

Another scenario would be scrambles at the goal mouth that create chaotic situations and require fast action from the keeper.

He, supposedly, knows his players well and thinks that Scurry will do better than solo under these types of scenarios.

My issue is, none of the Brazilian goals in this world cup (or in recent performances) have come from this type of play. What makes Ryan think that will happend against the USA? Our defense is certainly not more porous than Australia's, China's or New Zealand's. Several Brazilian goals have come from long range shots, in which his comment on reaction time becomes flawed.

I think Ryan has the wrong mental model on this one.

In the end it may not matter much but it was a poor decision and justification.

Posted by: JP | September 26, 2007 5:12 PM | Report abuse

"What is a 'non-reaction save'?"

When the ball hits you in the ass while you're looking away.

Thanks for bringing up the 2003 semifinal. I am still fuming about the decision to bench Parlow for Milbrett (or was it McMilllan) and serve crosses to a 5'1" target.

Posted by: I-270, Exit 1 | September 26, 2007 6:02 PM | Report abuse

Believe in 03 it was mcmillan for parlow at the half? I think Milbrett was brought on way late, as I recall, too late for those of us who thought that kind of speed and creativity might have been an answer to stout German defense.

Over 100 posts on this thread for womens soccer today (even if a dozen were from one obsessed fan). That's good to see.

Posted by: WNT fan | September 26, 2007 6:37 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: Section 410 | September 26, 2007 6:44 PM | Report abuse

By the way Brazil are playing,
Greg Ryan could put both Hope Solo and Briana Scurry in goal and Brazil would still win.
Brazil 2 USA 0 I say.

Posted by: goalie | September 26, 2007 7:10 PM | Report abuse

I wrote yesterday that the game would be Brazil 3 and USA 0, but no one replied, no reaction. Well, right now that is the score while Brazil plays in the game, losing overhead kicks and stuff. My fear is that I underscored the "goleada". It seems like there will be more than 3 against USA. So much for a goalkeeper substitution discussion.

Posted by: Ronaldinho | September 27, 2007 9:22 AM | Report abuse

What a stupid move by Ryan. Bad substitutions. The guy should be fired.

Posted by: Miguel | September 27, 2007 11:08 AM | Report abuse

Julie Foudy seems like she'd make an excellent USWNT coach.

I hope that Scurry gets another chance in goal - it would be a shame to end such a brilliant career on this mess.

Posted by: Ned | September 27, 2007 12:52 PM | Report abuse

What we saw today with USA vs. Brazil was an indication of our inability to grow technically in the women's game. From club to college to the US National team our one dimensional style of play will relegate the US to the bottom of the elite pile.

Title nine gave us a huge pool of women playing soccer and we leveraged that into a world power. Now it is time to ramp up the coaching skills as well as the player skills to be competitive in the new soccer arena.

Brazil played with us like a cat with a helpless mouse. It was an embarrassment to see how out classed we were.

You can give lame excuses about the goalie change or the own goal but in reality we sucked. I will concede that the poor call that gave Box the red card did change the dynamics of the game but it would have not had as much impact on a possession style team.

Two years preparing for this event and Brazil came together at the last moment. To think of how many resources and money was spent on our current team to experience this outcome is criminal.

It is time to address reality and break the mold.

Posted by: Ticotom | September 27, 2007 8:09 PM | Report abuse

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