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Wambach Responds

Late in the first half of the USA's 3-0 quarterfinal victory over England on Saturday, Abby Wambach swung out her arm and caught English captain Faye White with an elbow to the nose. White was bloodied but returned to the match with what was later diagnosed as the fifth broken nose of her career. Wambach said it was not intentional; White was not so sure, and also implied that the Americans celebrated the incident.

With a day to reflect on the confrontation as well as the postgame mixed zone in which a BBC reporter apparently took sides during an interview, Wambach had this to say Monday morning:

"Number one, as people will watch from the replay will see for themselves, there was no intent to hurt Faye. I actually don't even remember feeling it during the play. I was more focused on the ball. Number two, I don't think I am that good of a player to be in complete motion receiving a ball and be able to think about elbowing somebody at the same time in the nose so that she has to leave the field. The sequence of events don't add up and for them to think that Kristine Lilly, who has been playing this game for 300 and some odd games, that we 'low-fived' [to celebrate] is absurb."

"I think a lot of it is English media trying to make something out of nothing. The BBC reporter got really emotional and too invested in the team, creating more of a stir and a drama than needs be."

Wambach also made reference to a photograph on the FIFA Web site of an incident 16 minutes earlier when an English player crashed into U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo and defender Stephanie Lopez on a cross into the penalty area. Lopez received five staples to close the head wound during the game and three stitches afterward.

"The odd part of the picture is that her foot is actually higher than Hope and Stephanie's head, and subsequently Lopez has to go off with blood coming from her head. So there are all these things you can say that goes against everything that they may think....The bottom line is I didn't do it on purpose, it was an accident, I apologized to her on the field. I asked her if she was okay; she wasn't having it at the time."

"I guess it's pretty hard because when you are losing and you are about to go home out of a World Cup, it's hard to swallow. I understand. It is what it is. I'm not upset about the play because I did the best I could and I wasn't trying to hurt anybody."

Soooo, when's the next USA-England friendly?

If anyone has found a video link to the incident, please post it here. I've seen match highlights, but mostly just the goals.

I'll have more on the increasingly physical nature of women's soccer in Tuesday's print editions.

As for the U.S. team, the players went through a light workout Sunday in Tianjin, then returned to their base in Shanghai and were given Monday off. Training will resume Tuesday morning, followed by a two-to-three hour bus ride south to Hangzhou to begin preparations for Thursday's semfinal against Brazil. If you have not seen the first and third Brazilian goals against Australia, you need to check them out on FIFA's Web site.

Wednesday: Germany-Norway in Tianjin, 8 a.m. Eastern (ESPN2)
Thursday: USA-Brazil in Hangzhou, 8 a.m. Eastern (ESPN2)

By Steve Goff  |  September 23, 2007; 11:23 PM ET
Categories:  Women  
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Next: Fenty on the Stadium


It didn't look like an intentional elbow to the face to me...
Now, the boot to Lopez' head, that would be something to write about if I were the English media... the fact that she should have been sent off for that and got nothing for it. Also, they can write about how much better the US is than England in Women's soccer (or football if they prefer).

Posted by: jake | September 24, 2007 7:19 AM | Report abuse

FIFA has an even better picture of the high boot--right at Lopez's head. Amazing that there was no card on that.

Posted by: sarahdc | September 24, 2007 7:43 AM | Report abuse

Ahh the wonderful English press - the self appointed experts on soccer/football. They can stir up controversy during a practice session.
Any REAL football fan knows that Abby did not do that intentionally - how pathetic to stir something up.

Have fun following you WNT at home boys!

Posted by: bobf | September 24, 2007 7:57 AM | Report abuse

Geez. If you're going after someone, it would be Kelly Smith. Faye White sure has a big opinion of herself.

Posted by: I-270, Exit 1 | September 24, 2007 8:04 AM | Report abuse

No surprise about BBC. I've been working with them (but not for them) for years, and "objective" doesn't exist in their vocabulary.

Posted by: The Press | September 24, 2007 8:06 AM | Report abuse

the FA site has it right "The main action came in the last ten minutes of the half as Faye White caught a stray, but unintentional, elbow from Abby Wambach and needed treatment"

Posted by: emanon | September 24, 2007 8:22 AM | Report abuse

*Insider has a cool little side bar on Kate Markgraf in the print Post this morning, which I almost missed because they stuck it at the bottom of a bazzzzzzzeball page.

*ESPN had a slo mo replay of the elbow during the game, and I thought it was borderline. It wasn't a De Rossi shot, but it looked to me like she was swinging the elbow high to create some space, and White's nose got in the way. Probably should have been a foul, but not a card IMO, and obviously if this is White's 5th time, her nose gets in the way often. That said, I think she's a helluva central defender.

*The shot on Lopez was blatant, they have no cause to whine. And K. Smith was pulling and hacking people all game, and (as Markgraf noted early on) diving all over the place.

*The English keeper was pathetic. Supposedly one of the 8 best teams in the world, and a routine ball bounces over her head? Come on.

*If anyone has cause to complain about the reffing it is Australia. The PK against was clearly wrong (but close) and the non-call in the box at the end looked to me CLEARLY a foul, though for some reason I never did see a replay. That was an exciting match. I don't suppose Brazil will play a back-pass to one of our forwards though. The Matildas really missed Salisbury on the 3d goal. It was a beauty, but somehow the Aussies must think that Salisbury stays in front of that one.

Posted by: WNT fan | September 24, 2007 8:47 AM | Report abuse

WNT Fan: On the non-replay of the non-penalty, JP and Julie mentioned that ESPN is using the World feed. They then jokingly (?) suggested that FIFA doesn't want us to see the replay. You may have missed that comment because you had the sense to use the mute button.

Posted by: I-270, Exit 1 | September 24, 2007 9:47 AM | Report abuse

In the second half Faye White tackled Abby Wambach. The ball went out of touch. Wambach was on the ground and White was yelling at her to get up.

Posted by: Arsonist | September 24, 2007 9:49 AM | Report abuse

Brazil's PK was a borderline call. I think perhaps the foul started happening barely outside the box, but also might have been on the line by the time the referee judged it to be a foul. Don't know how you come to the conclusion that is was "clearly wrong", especially at full speed given the officials' positions. On the Australians' appeal for a PK I also don't see how you get to "clearly a foul" when we never saw a replay and the only angle we ever did see was the far away wide shot of the field. Might have been a foul, might have been an awesome tackle. The problem there was that it was such a fast counter that the referee was probably 40 or 50 yards away from the play.

The play that baffled me was the Brazillian freekick that hit the crossbar. The referee was clearly signalling for an indirect kick which made sense since it seemed like the only real call possible there was a dangerous play for the Australian player on the ground with the ball between her legs. How some one like JP who has been calling games for as long as I can remember had no clue that was indirect is a mystery, but he went on about how that could have sealed the game. Well, no, if it had gone into the goal it would have merely been a goalkick. I expect a certain lack of sophistication from O'Brien, but c'mon JP!

Posted by: Glenn | September 24, 2007 10:03 AM | Report abuse

The English media have no sense of journalistic standards. No cheering from the press box is not taught, if they even teach journalism as a university course of study. All I have to say is Yorktown!

Posted by: 1776 | September 24, 2007 10:12 AM | Report abuse

Totally agree Glenn -- just saying in retrospect and slo mo the Aussie foul was clearly wrong, definitely outside the box, but also a real close call at full speed in real time. Not sure if the Brazilian non-foul was as clear since we never saw replay. But it seemed that way to me - - - maybe because I was pulling for Australia. I think the Brazilian midfield will give us fits.

Yeah, White seemed to have a lot to say once she came back on. I look forward to seeing her and Salisbury in the new league in 2009.

Posted by: WNT fan | September 24, 2007 10:17 AM | Report abuse

Thanks to the glory that is Tivo, I replayed the non-call several times. If the foul on the Brazilians was a penalty kick, then this was DEFINITELY a penalty kick. Certainly looked like she came sliding in, studs up, and took her out of the play BEFORE getting the ball. Of course, did anyone really think that the ref would make a call that would harm Brazil? (How about next time FIFA just gives Germany and Brazil a bye until the semi-finals. Between the draw and the refereeing, it makes their games just a formality anyway.)

Posted by: TG | September 24, 2007 11:07 AM | Report abuse

What minute of the match is the elbow incident?

Posted by: sitruc | September 24, 2007 11:11 AM | Report abuse

"The Elbow" came at about 37'

Posted by: WNT fan | September 24, 2007 11:16 AM | Report abuse

Anyone have a link to the BBC slanted article?

Posted by: Logan Circle | September 24, 2007 11:24 AM | Report abuse

I'm not sure which article is slanted or whether it was the TV report. The match report is fair, albeit brief. Although, in the video interview of White, the interviewer uses pretty leading adjectives.

This journalist who wrote the following talks about Abi (sic) Wambach's mallet-like forearm and patronizing crap like wanting to hug Fay White.

Posted by: I-270, Exit 1 | September 24, 2007 11:42 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for the BBC links. One of their writers ranked the players (both sides) on the game. Interesting. (Insider -- why DCU ratings and no WNT ratings?) And the blog comments are amusing. The best is, at the tail end of a rant about how the English women have the same deficiencies as the English men: "I think the inability of England to produce goalkeepers is worth a scientific study about genetics." LOL.

Posted by: WNT fan | September 24, 2007 11:54 AM | Report abuse

Thank God Australia did not tie that game. They were thoroughly dominated by the Brazilians. If they had won, soccer would have lost.

Our kids don't need more examples of kick-and-run and long-ball soccer.

Posted by: JP | September 24, 2007 12:11 PM | Report abuse

For those of you not in the know, Heather Mitts sustained a knee injury in a friendly against Canada and therefore will not be representing the U.S. Women's National team in the FIFA Women's World Cup 2007.

However, she has been making routine stops at the Outback restaurant drive-through whilst staying in Bristol, Connecticut.

On another note, Mary Abigail Wambach has intense, mysterious green emerald irises. During her interviews the only thing I can focus on is her eyes. Maybe Rob Stone et al can use that topic as show prep for their 5AM ESPN World Cup Live.

Posted by: Charlton Heston | September 24, 2007 12:23 PM | Report abuse

I dunno about that JP. I agree generally about the long ball, especially the US just pounding away from the back line. But I thought in the second half Australia actually dominated possession but to little end in terms of shots. Their MF McCallum (sp?) was superb, and if you had that speed advantage up top and refused to use it, THEN soccer would have lost. Why would you play back-to-goal with a pair of 5'3" strikers who were fastest players on the field? To me, they were very skillful in the MF, trying to find a way to spring the forwards. 5 passes and probe from the midfield seems different to me than 1 pass and a long ball from your back line. If nothing else it was a great demonstration for young players -- never quit on a match. The Brazilians may be technically brilliant, but they sure can seem psychologically soft at times. Wasting talent with mental mistakes is as much disrespect to the game as the long ball.

Posted by: WNT fan | September 24, 2007 12:38 PM | Report abuse

*Insider has a cool little side bar on Kate Markgraf in the print Post this morning, which I almost missed because they stuck it at the bottom of a bazzzzzzzeball page.

I read the print version on the Metro this morning and then tossed it without seeing this item. A search of the Post site under Markgraf's name turned up nothing. What page was it on? Can anyone supply a link? Thanks.

Posted by: Section 410 | September 24, 2007 1:21 PM | Report abuse

A bit OT, but here's an interesting item from the business section involving Ted Leonsis:

Posted by: Section 410 | September 24, 2007 1:33 PM | Report abuse

*If anyone has cause to complain about the reffing it is Australia. The PK against was clearly wrong (but close) and the non-call in the box at the end looked to me CLEARLY a foul, though for some reason I never did see a replay. That was an exciting match.
I also have DVR and watched the replay several times, it did NOT look like a foul from my view. The Aus player jumped/tripped over the defender.

Posted by: Frederick, MD | September 24, 2007 1:55 PM | Report abuse

OK maybe my judgment was clouded. I still like the Aussies though.

Sermanni's thoughts:

"I have no complaints with the penalty. At first I thought it was inside and it was a dead-set penalty, but I saw the replay after the game and while the first contact was probably outside, with the speed it all happened, it looked inside the box.

"So realistically, it was one of those where you can't blame the referee."

As for who he thinks will win the tournament, Sermanni believes that Germany is the team to beat and believes that Brazil just might be their opponent in the final.

"I think Germany are looking the most impressive at the tournament so far. They have gradually got stronger as the tournament has gone on.

"I think the Brazil will give the US a fright in the semi finals, so I wouldn't be surprised if its Germany and Brazil in the final."

Posted by: WNT fan | September 24, 2007 2:18 PM | Report abuse

WNT Fan,

I think you missed JP's main point: what we need in our (USA) kids is not more mental toughness, we need them to develop skill.

I will side with JP on this one. Our youth soccer circles spend too much practice time on running and not enough on skill development. We tend to develop these mechanized players with little or no flair or creativity.

This approach has reduced our men's national team to the role of CONCACAF supriority and internation medicority. Our women have fared better largely due to the lack of interest from other soccer nations. As the rest of the world catches up in interest level, they'll soon surpass us, unless we add skill to our cultural "mental toughness".

Posted by: Jensen | September 25, 2007 10:50 AM | Report abuse

No, I got it, and I agree up to a point. I just disagreed with JP that the Aussies were so outclassed. I thought their attempts to feed De Vanna usually came after they had worked it into the midfield, not just pounding it over the top from the back line. AUS dominated time of possession, although they didn't get shots as a result. And they were amazingly composed and organized against a fearsome attack especially considering their leader and center back was off after 15 minutes. So I didn't agree that a win for them would have been bad for our kids here.

I think the Germans and the Brazilians are both stronger on the ball than the US -- in different ways -- there's lots of ranting on youth coaching boards about why and how it can be addressed. (E.g., let little kids play and stop screaming at them, stop punishing them for doing right things badly, and rewarding them for doing wrong things "successfully".)

I totally agree US need to add skill but as far as mental toughness, you can't have too much. In last Olympic finals, US beat a more skillful team on mental toughness. So yes we need to be stronger and more creative on the ball, but we should never lose that mental edge. If I had to choose, I'd rather advance on a mentally tough win, doing the very best we can with the weapons we brought, and let Brazil Joga effing Bonita home with a bronze or naught because they broke down mentally and squandered their amazing talent.

I will spare you my rant on why the US MNT and the US WNT should not be mentioned in the same sentence.

Posted by: WNT fan | September 25, 2007 12:41 PM | Report abuse

Fear the Wombat! That means you, limeys!

Posted by: The Crusaders | September 25, 2007 2:23 PM | Report abuse

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