Soccer / sweden

WC France '19: USA Win Group F with +18 Goal Differential
USA vs Sweden – USA breeze through Group F without conceding, leaving Sweden in second place after 2-0 defeat USA haters and skeptics continued to fill social media with comments claiming the fun and games for the Americans would come to an end when they played Sweden. With Sweden’s recent performances in the Olympics, some even favorited Sweden to top the group before the WC started. Fans at least expected them to do some damage to the US even if they didn’t win the group. But with an 18-0 goal differential for the group stages, the USWNT showed they are the real deal once again--not conceding a single goal in group stages. Sure a 13 goal win against Thailand did little to change naysayers’ minds. The confident win against Chile was wrote off as well. But now that every team has played all 3 of their group stage matches, half of them being sent home, it should be abundantly clear what the USWNT are all about. They want to lift that trophy more than any team in France at the moment. That could change, but this is where we stand right now. First Half Ironic USA’s fastest goal this WC came against our strongest competition. The US bombed forward at kickoff, signaling they would be ruthless in attack this match once again. By the 2’ the US earned their first corner: an in-swinging bouncing ball puting Sweden into a frenetic mess to clear it. Out of nowhere, Horan pushed her way through the crowed box and found herself poking the ball in for an easy opening goal in the first minutes. For Sweden, it was the quickest goal ever conceded in their World Cup history. As the half went on, Sweden’s nerves settled, becoming more confident, although they were starved for possession the majority of the half. Midway through, Sweden had tallied 3 shots to the US’s 7 attempts. Sweden spent most of the time with their backs against the goal hanging on for dear life. Going forward it was Route One work by Sweden, hoping long balls would result in something successful, but they never did. As the half neared an end, Sweden continued to improve in their attacking half. Possessing the ball better, more effective in transition, and they did well to disrupt the USA in the middle-third. They were successful in that: holding the US to a single goal lead in the first half. Going by the stats, 65% - 35% possession, a solo goal deficit isn’t bad for the Swedish. The USA should have been kicking themselves in the locker room for not getting 2 or 3 more goals that half. Second Half Like the 1st half, the opening goal came to the US early. This time it was none other than Carli Lloyd who found the net once again only minutes after coming into the match. The goal was all a product of Lloyd’s individual effort on the flank. She was quick to create space off the defender in a one-on-one situation. Then the tight angle finish beat both the defender and the keeper, giving the US a well-deserved two goal lead. The second goal changed the tempo for both teams. Sweden saw their hopes of winning the group slip through their fingers. For the US, all that had to be done was to see things through, and they did exactly that. In the last 20’ the air had been let out of the match. Sweden’s legs tired. USA played keep-away for stints of time and assaulted the goal whenever possible, but the Swedish keeper did well to stop the US running up the score. It was a hard fought match for both teams. My Group Stage Reflections Two predominant things stood out to me during this year’s group stage matches. The first is how exciting and fun this World Cup has been. I’m not saying that because USA is doing well. I’m saying that because the level of play has clearly improved for a lot of nations, creating a more competitive and exciting World Cup so far. Some of these matches have been an absolute joy to watch. For a pure entertainment value, this Women’s World Cup has not disappointed one bit. The second thing is I have to rant about VAR…well…specifically VAR for penalty kicks. What an utter complete joke it’s been so far this tournament. If I’m not mistaken, every blocked PK in the group stages was called back and retaken due to the keeper “coming off” her line. All of them resulting in goals from the second attempt. Do you think this is coming off the line? This is wrong. In none of the 3 cases that I saw did I feel like it was warranted to retake the penalty. If anything, give the keeper a yellow card if they came of the line, but we can’t just keep having every blocked PK retaken. It’s not fair nor enjoyable to watch. Only in the most EXTREME cases should a PK ever be retaken. But it’s not just the World Cup that is off the mark in how to enforce this rule. In the wake of all these VAR penalty retakes, the Premier League announced yesterday, saying VAR would not be used to review keepers coming off their lines next season. On one hand, I’m happy about this. The crap of retaking PKs is insufferable. But on the other hand, the league needs to be clear with the rule. You can’t just selectively enforce or not enforce rules that are complicated. So I ask: can keepers come off their lines in the Premier League or not? And if so, how far? No one really knows. Same thing with handballs. Fans, players and coaches alike deserve clarity and transparency with these rules /endrant. Well that's it. The final match for the group stage. Now onto the Sweet 16. See you there. _______________________________________________________________________________________