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Archive for May 13, 2007

May 13, 2007 — Pretty in pink

The U.S. women’s soccer team bested Canada last night 6-2 in what could very well be a foreshadowing of the power and flair of a team which could be playing at its highest level ever.

That’s right; despite the lack of Hamm, Foudy, Chastain, MacMillian, Overbeck, Fawcett, and all of those names of the past, this U.S. player pool is playing some absolutely wonderful football.

Last night’s dismantling was not of some backwater country which has made its women play in head coverings or has defunded its national team in favor of its men’s team. This was Canada, a team which has given the U.S. fits over the years, including extending the Stars and Stripes to double-overtime before falling on a 120th-minute penalty kick in the CONCACAF Gold Cup.

Canada has several physically-imposing players such as Kara Lang, Kristina Kiss, and Christie Sinclair. The country has several great goalkeepers such as Katrina LeBlanc, Taryn Swiatek, and Erin McLeod. The head coach, Even Pellerud, is one of the few coaches who knows how to beat the United States, having coached the Norwegian women to Olympic gold and the 1995 World Cup.

From the opening moments, Canada had no chance. Why? Right now, the American team has a raft of young, speedy, and gifted players who collectively have the potential to be as good or even better than the ’91ers ever were.

You might have heard of Heather O’Reilly, Lori Chalupny, and Lindsay Tarpley. But what about Natasha Kai, Carli Lloyd, Leslie Osborne, or Stephanie Lopez? If you haven’t heard of them yet, you will. Trust me.

These young people will be grafted into a lineup which includes veteran backs Cat Whitehill, Christie Rampone, and Kate Markgraf — not to be confused with Cat Reddick, Christie Pearce, and Kate Sobrero. Shannon Boxx and Angela Hucles are amongst the midfield anchors and have proved themselves the last five years.

And how about the rejuvenated attackers Abby Wambach and Kristine Lilly? Wambach, who was alternately praised and criticized for her physicality in the last Women’s World Cup, showed a creative flair in last night’s match that few knew she had. Taking a pass in the attacking third near the left touchline, she shook two Canadian defenders off the dribble and knocked a well-weighted diagonal that Lilly (playing in her 325th international) couldn’t quite track down.

Frankly, despite China’s home-field advantage and Germany’s status as defending champion, this fall’s World Cup is the United States’ to lose.