It’s time, once again, for another installment of “Stream of Consciousness” – a portion of the blog in which I spew word vomit (Thanks for the saying, Philip DeFranco) regarding the goings-on of a particular sporting event.
Today, I find myself talking about the USWNT’s quarterfinal match against China in the 2015 Women’s World Cup. While the American women have been clipping along in their run to a possible World Cup title, they haven’t looked particularly impressive in doing it. Even with two key players suspended, they hoped to make a statement against the upstart Chinese women’s team, in an effort to reach the semifinals.
Let’s get started then, shall we?
4:17 PM: So, let’s set the stage. The USWNT is ranked No. 2 in the world. China, meanwhile, is ranked 16th. If the Americans were to lose here, it would be one of the great upsets of the tournament. A lot of pressure is on them.
4:19 PM: Not to mention that the United States is missing key players in Megan Rapinoe and Lauren Holliday. They account for a large majority of set-ups in the team’s offense – and that’s taking into consideration that they haven’t scored very much in the WWC, so far.
4:21 PM: While it seems like a no-brainer that the US will advance here, nothing is given and nothing is promised. The fact remains – all there needs to be is one break for the Chinese, and it’s bye-bye, USA.
4:22 PM: Furthermore, even if the Americans get past this stage, the road gets many times more difficult – No. 1-ranked Germany won a thrilling, heart-breaking quarterfinal against the French earlier today. Word of advice to the winner of this match: you better not get to the PK tiebreaker against the Germans.
4:24 PM: I would have expected a more of a capacity crowd here. I guess a top-ranked Women’s team is less important to the general public than a middling Men’s team. Way of the world, I suppose, when it comes to sports, amirite?
4:27 PM: The last time the USWNT was at this stage, four years ago, they were nearly eliminated – an advantage in PKs saved them. I mean, granted, that was to third-ranked Brazil, and this is 16th-ranked China, but, still … Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that today.
4:30 PM: And, here … we … go. USA starts with possession.
4:31 PM: USA had a great chance there in the second minute. I don’t know if that was a mis-kick, or what, but it certainly was awkward.
4:33 PM: USA seems to be controlling, thus far, as expected – even though it’s only 3:40 into the match.
4:34 PM: Good shot by the US, I suppose – though it was easily blocked by the Chinese keeper.
4:36 PM: China’s putting together their first good possession right now.
4:37 PM: Great shot by O’Hara – almost snuck into the top of the net. Reminds me of a particular shot almost netted by the French in their match against Germany.
4:39 PM: China hasn’t really threatened, yet. Good sign for the Americans, I suppose. Shows how much I know about the sport of futbol.
4:42 PM: Here comes a China corner kick, first of the game for either team … looks like they’ll play this methodically …
4:43 PM: China’s not really creating their own opportunities, thus far. Americans should take advantage of this, and step up their aggressiveness.
4:45 PM: Then again, there is such a thing as too much aggression – it almost feels like they’re forcing and rushing at times.
4:47 PM: Another opportunity for the Chinese to make something of a possession, and the kick sails high above Hope Solo.
4:49 PM: The Americans kind of squandered that chance at goal – the strike was slow enough to where I probably could’ve stopped it.
4:50 PM: Nice setup by the US – O’Hara just couldn’t get it into the net.
4:52 PM: USWNT is deep in Chinese territory – hopefully they don’t squander it.
4:54 PM: The Americans sure are creating chances for themselves – they just can’t seem to finish them, yet.
4:55 PM: On that same vein, give credit to China – it’s not necessarily “holding back a waterfall”, but it’s close enough, considering how good the Americans can be.
4:56 PM: That last sequence certainly felt like China holding back a waterfall, didn’t it – what was that, three legitimate shots at goal?
4:57 PM: Ouch. That collision certainly looked like it hurt.
4:58 PM: Alex Morgan almost had a header in that last goal sequence, as it looked from the replay. It’s a rough sport, this futbol – that could’ve easily been concussion-inducing.
4:59 PM: Another offensive sequence coming up empty for the Americans. China’s doing well, defensively. Give ’em credit.
5:00 PM: Great corner kick, and the ensuing header just sails over the top crossbar. The Americans HAVE to convert those.
5:01 PM: You know what this match reminds me of, so far? USA-Belgium in last year’s World Cup. So many chances for the Belgians, and they simply couldn’t convert. Now, this Chinese goalie is no Tim Howard, and hasn’t played like it … actually, maybe it’s nothing like that match, thus far.
5:06 PM: Carli Lloyd’s got a free kick here … nice save by the Chinese goalkeeper, there.
5:08 PM: If I recall correctly, the US has made no subs as of yet. Abby Wambach remains on the bench. No doubt they will employ her in the second half.
5:11 PM: China is having a hard time getting out of the pin of the US defense. Jeez, that sounds like a war proclamation.
5:12 PM: The Americans keep pressing and pressing on offense. You’d think China’s defense would’ve given way by now. Props to them – it hasn’t.
5:14 PM: China certainly had a chance there, on that possession. The shot was just wide.
5:15 PM: Into stoppage time. One minute.
5:16 PM: It looked like Morgan had a legitimate chance, there, to score. Just couldn’t get through China’s defense. And, that’s HT.
5:17 PM: Wow – this place certainly got packed while I was paying attention to the match. Now, this is more like it.
5:20 PM: In all the hubbub, I didn’t even realize Sydney Leroux isn’t in the match. I guess she’ll see the pitch at some point in the second half. That has to be a HT adjustment, right?
5:28 PM: I just watched the highlight of the Germany-France match. You kind of have to feel bad for the French – giving up the equalizer on a PK in the 83rd minute, then having a point-blank chance to win in Extra Time go inexplicably wide, only to lose on the fifth shootout PK? Jeez, dude.
5:32 PM: Second half underway, and the US has control. Again. Story of the match, thus far. If only they could convert a possession.
5:33 PM: Rodriguez had a good bead on goal, but the ball went wide left. Again – story of the match, thus far.
5:34 PM: Here comes another USA corner kick … and, nothing. Let’s try that again.
5:36 PM: It’s either the Americans can’t take advantage of any possession, or the Chinese defense is simply being effective enough to shut down the attack. In any case, I’m not certain why the US hasn’t scored by now.
5:37 PM: GOAL, USA!! Wow, and it progressed so simply. A header by Lloyd that the goalkeeper simply couldn’t get to in time. 9 times out of 10, she probably gets there. Not then.
5:39 PM: I would expect the Chinese to pick up their aggressiveness for the rest of the match. They’re staring at the 8-ball, now – can they crack the American defense?
5:41 PM: Another corner kick for the US (jeez, I’m sounding like a broken record). The Americans, man – give them enough chances, and one of them HAS to go through, right? Well, it did once, at least.
5:43 PM: Now, I would suggest the US just play a 33-minute game of “keepaway” from the Chinese, but something tells me that’s not gonna work at this stage of the match. Aaaand, O’Hara’s nose got bloodied. That’s great to see. #Sarcasm
5:46 PM: O’Hara’s back in the match, with a bloodied nose. Seriously – they have three subs left. Why not employ one of them?
5:47 PM: Well, speak of the Devil … they’re taking out O’Hara, inserting Christen Press.
5:48 PM: Jeez. Rapinoe and Holliday can only sit by and watch. Gotdanged Yellow Card accumulation.
5:52 PM: We’ve entered the 63rd minute. USA’s still pressing – but that might be inadvertently giving the Chinese more chances. They gotta play this smart for the next 27 minutes, here.
5:54 PM: Possession chart says 55% to the USA, thus far – seems like a lot more than that, if you were watching the match.
5:55 PM: Looks like a corner kick for China. Here comes a real threat to equalize.
5:56 PM: Hope Solo’s got this. First a punch-out, then a scoop-up to neutralize the scoring threat. Ooh – considering Solo’s current legal situation, I just realized how wrong that last sentence sounded. #Whoops
5:57 PM: Nice tackle by Press to neutralize another scoring threat by the Chinese. Too bad they couldn’t capitalize on the other end.
5:59 PM: Two scoring chances squandered by the US – one on a brilliant shot that just hit the crossbar, another that sailed over goal. Ugh.
6:00 PM: If I’m not mistaken, that’s China’s last substitution. Forgive me for not knowing any of the Chinese players, but let’s see if the strategy works.
6:03 PM: Morgan’s not getting to all those balls. Not sure why she hasn’t been taken out yet – not to rag on her or anything, but if you can replace her with LeRoux or Wambach, I think you should do it – only if Morgan’s tired.
6:05 PM: China’s entering scramble mode – you don’t want to gift them any possessions if you don’t have to.
6:06 PM: Perfect kick by China … right into the arms of Solo. Crisis averted, for now.
6:07 PM: And here comes Heather O Reilly. There goes Alex Morgan. That was not unexpected. (Seriously, Alex – no offense intended.)
6:10 PM: Another much-needed grab by Solo averts another scoring opportunity for China. Now, if they can only keep it away for another six-plus minutes …
6:11 PM: The Americans are dominating the stat sheet. Only a 1-0 lead to show for it, as of now. I mean, 15 shots to 5?
6:11 PM: And Here … Comes … Wambach. There goes Rodriguez. 86th minute. Close it out, Abby.
6:14 PM: We’re in crunch time, now. China will surely press as much as possible, here. US just has to play “keepaway”.
6:15 PM: Nice effort by Press to try closing out the match, but it sailed just left.
6:17 PM: This could be China’s last push …
6:18 PM: Less than 90 seconds left – can the US hold on?
6:19 PM: One last save by Solo. I believe this should do it – if they can keep it on the Chinese side.
6:20 PM: And that does it – the United States moves on to the Semifinals against Germany. Boy, will THAT be an interesting match.
And, there you have it, folks. If you can, see if you can follow at home, while reading my less-than-professional “sort-of-live-blog” telling of the match. I’m sure that would be fun.
In any case, the United States will have to show their mettle against what many (including current FIFA Rankings) consider the best national team in the world. They have not looked particularly impressive thus far, but they’ve gotten the job done – which is all you can really ask for. This USA-Germany semifinal (Tuesday, June 30) might be the most anticipated of the entire World Cup.