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USA women's soccer team faces critical match

By Steve Goff

The U.S. women's national team will play Costa Rica at 6 p.m. ET today in the third-place match of the CONCACAF World Cup qualifying tournament in Cancun (ESPN2, concacaf.com, ESPN3.com). Yes, the third-place game, an unusual spot for the most successful program in women's soccer history.

At stake is not just a trophy. Without victory against the Ticas, the Americans would fail to qualify for a major tournament for the first time ever. It would undoubtedly mark the end of Coach Pia Sundhage's three-year reign, undermine ESPN's coverage of next summer's tournament in Germany, and inflict another setback to women's soccer amid WPS's woes.

Although the semifinal loss to Mexico was a reminder that developing programs are catching up to traditional powers, it would take another loss tonight or failure against Italy, Europe's fifth-place team, in a subsequent two-leg playoff to prompt a full evaluation of the program. For the moment, the Mexico match must be viewed as an anomaly. After all, the Americans have shown few signs of distress since 2002, building a 157-8-24 record before Friday's upset. And all eight losses were to established opponents:

For more.....

2008: 2-0 to Norway in Olympic opener
2007: 4-0 to Brazil in World Cup semifinals
2004: 3-1 to Denmark in a home friendly
2004: 3-1 to Sweden in Algarve Cup
2003: 3-0 to Germany in World Cup semifinals
2003: 2-0 to China in China tournament
2002: 3-2 to Norway in Algarve Cup
2002: 1-0 to Norway in China tournament

In group play last week, the Americans defeated Costa Rica, 4-0, for their sixth all-time victory without a loss or draw against the Ticas. However, it was a one-goal margin until the USA scored three times in the last 22 minutes. The scoring difference in the series is 31-0. So unless the Mexico match badly rattled the U.S. players, the outcome tonight should be typical of previous encounters. With a victory, the Americans would face Italy on Nov. 20 in Padova and Nov. 27 at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Ill. The 16-team World Cup draw will take place Nov. 29 in Frankfurt.

By Steve Goff  | November 8, 2010; 1:20 PM ET
Categories:  CONCACAF, Women  | Tags:  U.S. women's national soccer team  
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Next: Bob Bradley close to finalizing U.S. roster for Nov. 17 friendly vs. South Africa in Cape Town

Comments

I guess the Algarve Cup losses in 2006 and 2009 are officially draws because the matches went to PKs. I don't understand why this convention remains when one team is declared the winner and takes the trophy home.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | November 8, 2010 1:32 PM | Report abuse

I am thrilled that we finally have a USA WNT game on TV. I will be watching GO USA!!

Posted by: 10bestfan | November 8, 2010 1:54 PM | Report abuse

Well, I-270, I can see you don't know much about soccer.

(That one may be past its shelf life)

Posted by: fallschurch1 | November 8, 2010 1:54 PM | Report abuse

Pretty well pumped for this one.

Come on You Lady Yanks!

Posted by: JacobfromAtlanta-ish | November 8, 2010 1:54 PM | Report abuse

@10bestfan: Did I miss an inside joke? Don't we usually have a lot of the WNT games on tv?

(not trying to be snarky, seriously--sometimes I am a day late, dollar short on the inside jokes around here).

Posted by: yankiboy | November 8, 2010 2:05 PM | Report abuse

The Natettes had better come out and light the Ticas up. They had better come out bitter, disgusted with the last match and ready to show no mercy with Costa Rica.

Props to Mexico Leonardo Cuellar and his team for making some history. Good luck to them when they face the Canucks. That is a game that I would love to see.

There is no reason that Cuellar shouldn't have had more professional coaching doors open for him after building that program.

Posted by: yankiboy | November 8, 2010 2:13 PM | Report abuse

We win trophies.

We need more.

Posted by: OWNTF | November 8, 2010 2:27 PM | Report abuse

Props to Mexico Leonardo Cuellar and his team for making some history. Good luck to them when they face the Canucks. That is a game that I would love to see.

Posted by: yankiboy | November 8, 2010 2:13 PM
_________________________________________

You can see Mexico-Canada at the CONCACAF site, following the USA-CR match.

Posted by: universityandpark | November 8, 2010 2:38 PM | Report abuse

Hi yankiboy- No offense taken. The most recent WNT series has not been televised. Carly Loyd posted a funny tweet about no that the USWNT lost to Mexico the game tonight will be televised. Just trying to let ESPN know that lots of us want to be able to see the WPS and USA WNT on TV!

Posted by: 10bestfan | November 8, 2010 2:54 PM | Report abuse

Will this be on ESPN Deportes as well?

Posted by: wjones2 | November 8, 2010 3:20 PM | Report abuse

Will this be on ESPN Deportes as well?
__________________________________________

If not, the CONCACAF feed will probably have a Spanish-language audio.

Posted by: universityandpark | November 8, 2010 3:45 PM | Report abuse

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