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Olympic Recap: Canada vs. Sweden

by Ciara McCormack

Canada-Sweden had all the makings of an exciting affair as the two teams clashed in Canadian Head Coach John Herdman’s hometown in Newcastle, at historic St. James Park. With defenders Emily Zurrer and Robyn Gayle declared unfit for the duration of the tournament, alternates Melanie Booth and Marie-Eve Nault were inserted into the Canadian roster, with the latter stepping right into the starting line-up in her Olympic debut. Due to Gayle’s injury, Lauren Sesselmann, who has had an outstanding tournament so far at left back, was Herdman’s choice to place next to Carmelina Moscato at center back, as Nault reclaimed the left back spot that she held in two of Canada’s games at the 2011 World Cup.

Herdman made two other changes to his starting lineup from Canada’s last match against South Africa, as Erin McLeod went back into the net replacing Karina Leblanc who was not tested much against the African debutantes. In Herdman’s other change Kaylyn Kyle was pulled from midfield, in order to insert striker Jonelle Filigno, who looked dangerous as a substitute in her first Olympic appearance against South Africa. On the Swedish side, coach Thomas Dennerby went for a more offensive lineup for the Swede’s final group game, as Kosovare Asllani, who made an impact as a substitute against the Japanese, replaced Johanna Almgren as a starter, captain Nilla Fischer returned from injury to replace Lisa Dahlkvist in the midfield. In his final change, Dennerby replaced Annica Svensson with Lina Nilsson on the wing.

While Canada looked to have the better of the play in the opening minutes, including a big chance for forward Melissa Tancredi in the box in the seventh minute, it was Sweden who struck first. Nilsson made good of her start, sending in a great cross from the right that Marie Hammarstrom finished past McLeod, sending the Scandinavians into a 1-0 lead in the 14th minute of the match. Before the Canadians had a chance to regroup, Hammarstrom again made her presence in the match felt, as she made a great run down the left. McLeod showed her penchant for at times being too eager on crosses, and only getting her fingertips to the ball, Sofia Jakobsson had an easy finish into goal that sent the Swedes into a shock lead, based on the run of play.

The Canadians stayed collected, and for those observing the game, it seemed like it would only be a matter of time before they would be rewarded with a goal. And the goal came just minutes before the end of the half, as Rhian Wilkinson showed a delightful bit of skill, making a run down the right, combining with Christine Sinclair to send a beautiful swerving cross into the box. Tancredi would not let the opportunity by her, and through sheer will sent the ball off her body into the back of the net, cutting the score to 2-1 and revitalizing the Canadian side going into the half.

The Canadians came out in the second half doing a great job keeping their defensive shape, winning the ball high up the field, and not letting the Swedes create much danger. Sweden’s issues resembled those of the Canadian side in the first 2 games, where Lotta Schelin seemed to be isolated with little help, and a lack of cohesion between the Swedish midfield and attack left little to be desired in the way of many Swedish chances. The two biggest chances Sweden had in the second half came not surprisingly, via their top striker Schelin. One chance came off the foot of goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl who almost sent Schelin into the clear off of her punt in the 58th minute. Schelin was guarded closely by center back Carmelina Moscato, who did a wonderful job for the Canadians throughout the game, both in distribution and organization. Despite Schelin’s pleas for a foul just outside the box on the play, the referee waived play on. The Swedes had a chance to increase the scoreline as Schelin did a great job of freeing up space on the left side in the 80th minute, laying a ball into Almgren, who finished just wide. Her miss set up the heroics of Tancredi four minutes later, who scored her fourth of Canada’s six goals at the Olympics. Tancredi asserted her immense ability finishing crosses, as she dove to head a great cross from Sinclair, and in doing so, gave the Canadians a much deserved tie.

With Japan’s surprise scoreless draw against the South Africans, Sweden tops the group. The tie was enough to send Canada through to the quarterfinals as one of the top third place finishers.

Life After Soccer: Tiffany Roberts Sahaydak

Life after soccer comes calling to every player at some point. Some of us have the good fortune of leaving the game on our own terms and others of us are ripped away by injury or circumstance. In either case, there’s some serious soul searching that follows. I’m sure every athlete deals with the transition differently, but for me it took some time and a little help from some friends. I think my story is typical. The windy road of international and professional soccer led me to realize it’s all in the journey and not the destination.

As a kid, I spent my summer nights in the driveway getting peppered by my older brothers’ slap shots, or playing touch football in the street, or soccer in the yard. I was a tagalong to my three older brothers, and in a way it was an introduction to a life long love of sports. I tried everything, and tried my best, because I wanted to be good enough to be the first pick when the teams were divided up. I think that was the origin of my competitive spirit. It’s as simple as that.

The 1984 Olympics had one of the greatest impacts on me of any of the events in my life. It was the first time I saw strong females role models. They were amazing athletes competing to be the best in the world! At that moment, I knew I didn’t just want to be the best in the neighborhood anymore. I was nine years old, and my dream of being a world champion was born.

From that day on I focused every fiber, every part of my being, on achieving that goal. I focused my life around growing as a soccer player and as an athlete. I sought out the best guidance, the best training environments, and connected with countless people who helped keep me on my path and propelled me further along. Years passed. And in the end, it happened. The dream came true for me. The gold medal, the championships, the wins, that final PK! It is literally impossible to adequately describe the explosion of emotions I have experienced. But, that was years ago. Poof! That life is gone now. So what is left?

Leaving behind that life has been one of the toughest things I have ever done. I struggled with how much of my identity was tied up in my life as an athlete, and honestly I struggled to recognize that next big goal to chase. I’ve always been goal oriented and I always had those lofty soccer goals to chase. But for me, the uncertainty didn’t last long. I quickly discovered my new purpose.

A few years ago, I was serendipitously reunited with many of the most influential coaches I’ve had in my life. It took place one afternoon at a banquet event and the lunch conversation quickly turned to what I was going to do with my life. The people at that table knew me better than I knew myself at times. They had been such a part of my life for so long. They weren’t just my soccer coaches, they were my mentors and they have shaped much of who I am today. I will be forever grateful for the push they gave me that day. Their insights led me to a career in college coaching. Since that night I have dedicated myself to being the best coach, mentor, and leader I can be. I want the people in my life to experience what I had. Good people who always looked out for me and taught me the essential skills to becoming successful.

I have also started a family with my husband Tim. We have two young daughters who have fulfilled my life in some many ways. I always knew that I wanted to be a mom. I wanted to expose my kids to the world and to different people and experiences the same way Carla Overbeck and others on the national team did during my career.

Tim and I also work together. We are coaching a team. It’s fitting since we met on the training field years ago at The University of North Carolina. He’s a soccer guy too, a former MLS Pro, so we ‘re perfect compliments to one another. We are co-head coaches at Virginia Commonwealth University, where we’ve run the women’s soccer program for the past 5 years. I never thought anything could compare to my life as a player, but in many ways what I do now is much more fulfilling. I love the relationships I have with the players and would do anything to help them. Our program is truly a family. The wins and loses are still important to me too. I get just as nervous for the conference final as I did for the World Cup final. I want them to succeed, the soccer is the medium while they’re at VCU, but my hope is that what they take away carries over to all aspects of their life.

The mentoring part has become a real passion of mine and I’ve really be blessed with the opportunity to do some work with the US State Department of the past few years. The Sports Diplomacy Envoys have taken me all over the world and I’ve gotten the opportunity to teach life skills through sports, and grow personally from the influence of the amazing children I’ve met.

I can see that it has come full circle for me. I love teaching on and off the field. I want to be there for people that need my assistance. I want to lead by serving.

It has been some years since I last wore that US jersey. I know now that it all comes and goes so fast, but it’s the people that remain. Your coaches, your teammates -those bonds and friendships last forever. We’re a family. That’s what it’s all about. It’s about the positive impact that one person makes on another person’s life. That transcends the soccer and has been my mission. I feel I’ve gained a lot over my career as a player but the real value is in the lessons learned, and those would be squandered if I didn’t commit myself to teaching others.

Olympic Recap: Day Two

by  Tiffany Weimer

Luckily for the athletes, today’s games weren’t overshadowed by anything going on off the field, so here are some of the things that happened on the field:

U.S. vs. Colombia

Abby Wambach was on the receiving end of a sucker punch by Colombia’s Lady Andrade, which occurred away from the run of play.

While Twitter provided many jokes about how Lady wasn’t very lady-like, I look at it as a sign of things to come.

As Ireland’s Katie Taylor (5x World Champion boxer) has shown, soccer and boxing go together like … lamb and tuna fish… or perhaps you’d prefer spaghetti and meatballs?

Lady Andrade, you’re not fooling anyone. We know what’s next for you.

Anyway, the U.S. beat Colombia 3-0 with goals from Megan Rapinoe, Abby Wambach and Carli Lloyd. However, the Colombians were impressive. It is rare to see a team play confident, fearless soccer against the U.S. these days.

The U.S. stepped up their game when it mattered. With a different starting lineup from the game against France, Heather O’Reilly and Heather Mitts made their first starts of the tournament.

The luxury the U.S. team has over most others is the extreme depth of their bench. There aren’t many teams that can toy with their lineup and still come out with a win.

Megan Rapinoe scored the first goal of the match in the 33rd minute off a well-placed shot over goalkeeper Sandra Sepulveda who was a bit out of position.

Not allowing that goal in the 33rd minute definitely would have changed things for Colombia, especially because it was the result of a bad giveaway in the back.

The U.S. didn’t get on the board again until the 73rd minute when Wambach combined with substitute Tobin Heath to get the ball between two Colombia defenders. Armed with pure determination, she slid to get the ball far post before anyone else could touch it, giving the U.S. a 2-0 lead.

The final goal of the match, one of the best of the tournament, came off some great off the ball running by Lloyd. The U.S. was playing one and two touch soccer as Lloyd started the play and got on the receiving end of a perfectly timed through ball from Rapinoe to add her second goal of the tournament in the 77th minute.

With the win, the U.S. are now through to the quarterfinals and Colombia are unable to advance. The next game for Colombia will be purely for pride.

Canada vs. South Africa
Written by Ciara McCormack

Brazil vs. New Zealand

With Cristiane starting, most were probably expecting a ton of goals, regardless of what New Zealand brought to the table. The surprise was that New Zealand did everything in their power to not let Brazil cruise and it worked for most of the game.

There were times when New Zealand tried to attack with numbers but found them selves getting caught in transition by an extremely speedy Brazil side. Fabiana was as dangerous as I’ve seen her in recent years.

Aside from substitute Thais saving one of Marta’s shots and the announcer claiming that Bruna played for FC Gold Pride, I’d say it wasn’t as eventful as it should have been.

The lone goal of the game came in the 85th minute as Cristiane put away her second goal of the tournament (12 all-time in Olympic Games). The ball popped out to her and with a clean right-footed lob over the keeper, she secured the win for her side.

Interesting enough, the Brazilian side that have been known to be unorganized and lack focus for 90 minutes have only allowed 2 goals in the last 6 tournament matches they’ve played (2 goals to the U.S. in the 2011 WWC quarterfinals).

Sweden vs. Japan

One of the more entertaining games for soccer fans (zzzzs for most American sports fans) the Sweden/Japan game displayed some of the more enjoyable soccer on the day.

With very few balls over the top (I actually counted in the first 20 minutes there were only about 2-3 for each team) the ball stayed on the ground for the majority of the match. And unlike the U.S. vs. Colombia game, the players kept it clean and classy.

It wasn’t until the last 10 minutes of the match that Sweden resorted to a long ball over the top. Mostly because Japan did a good job of shutting down Lotta Schelin, who is the key to Sweden’s attack.

photo by Mirko Kappes

Although Japan are still one of the most dangerous teams in the tournament, they could possibly still be a little stiff from flying economy to London and that’s why there haven’t been as many goals. But one might never know.

I was impressed with Sweden’s captain Sara Thunebro and how much she got involved in the attack from her left back position.

Both teams will need to figure out a way to put the ball in the back of the net for their next matches. Sweden will have a tough challenge against Canada. The last time these two teams met was in a friendly in Sweden earlier this year and although Sweden dominated, Canada is a different team from then and Sweden have lost two starters to ACL injuries since that time.

Japan shouldn’t have a problem with South Africa.

France vs. Korea DPR

France found them selves in a must-win situation against Korea DPR today. Leaving Camile Abily on the bench, one wouldn’t think that would be the case.

The French came out slow and as though they were lacking confidence. Was the 4-2 loss to the U.S. a bit much to get over in just two days?

The very young DPR team held the ball well in spells, but counted on transitioning with a long ball over the top as their sole weapon in attack. Still, they looked to be giving France problems.

In the 44th minute France got the jolt they needed. A Louisa Necib corner kick found the head of an onrushing Laura Georges that the DPR goalkeeper could do nothing about except watch it zip past her to the back of the net.

If DPR could have prevented that last-minute goal in the first half, the second half might have looked different for them.

Once substitutes Thomis and Catala came on, the game went from a slow ballroom dance to a movie-like break dance competition.

In the last 20 minutes of the game, France scored four goals to bring the final score to 5-0. Thomis was instrumental in three of the four goals, setting up two and scoring one herself. Catala capped off the night by getting on the end of a great cross from Thomis.

With Thomis, Delie, Necib and others, this French team is capable of more than what they showed against the U.S. Thomis is extremely dangerous on the right side and in their next game against Colombia, this is weapon that must be utilized.

The only negative to take away from today is a poor decision to yellow card Sonia Bompastor for what was said to be a dive, but after watching several replays, definitely was not.

Glad she was able to laugh it off… as most of us did.

Great Britain vs. Cameroon

I was only able to watch bits and pieces of this game but what I saw was impressive from Great Britain and promising from Cameroon.

Goals from Casey Stoney, Jill Scott and Stephanie Houghton paved the way for their 3-0 victory over the African side.

For Houghton to track down a ball that was heading out of bounds in the dying minutes of the match, while already up 2-0, shows that this team might be more than we thought.

Alex Scott continues to impress as one of the best defenders in the tournament. And her pony tail looks nice.

Olympic Recap: Canada vs. South Africa

Canada 3 for 3
by Ciara McCormack

photo by Mirko Kappes

Canada walked away from their clash with South Africa with 3 goals and the necessary 3 points to keep their hopes of advancing alive. With the injury to center back Candace Chapman against Japan and Emily Zurrer still nursing a hamstring tear suffered July 12, all eyes were on who would start in the backline for Canada. Herdman went for partnering Robyn Gayle with Carmelina Moscato, while he opted for Karina Leblanc in goal, which marked the second change in the Canadian lineup from their opening tilt against Japan.

The Canadians started strongly as Diana Matheson asserted herself well in the midfield, and laid a nice ball into Melissa Tancredi that she finished to score Canada’s opening goal for the second game in a row. Tancredi’s score in the 7th minute allowed the Canadians to settle comfortably into the match.

The Canadians continued to press well with Matheson leading the charge, ringing a cross/shot off the crossbar in the 11th minute while both Wilkinson and Lauren Sesselmann were doing a great job of getting up their respective lines from their right and left back positions. South Africa, while they didn’t look too dangerous offensively, settled into the match halfway into the first half. At times the South African side looked the better one in possession, surprising for a team that at 61st in the world, is ranked 4 spots lower in the FIFA world rankings than Haiti, a team that the Canadians demolished 6-0 in Olympic qualifying play in January.

In the 33rd minute, the Canadians had a scare as a lack of communication between Gayle and Leblanc gifted South Africa a chance, which Andisiwe Mgcoyi Mgcoyi got her foot to, and hit just over the bar. With a 1-0 lead and the knowledge that goal differential could possibly come into play should they be the third place finisher in the group, Herdman no doubt demanded more goals from his team at the half.

Yet it was the South African side that were the better one at the start of the second half until Sinclair finished a cross from Sesselmann that put the Canadians firmly in the driver seat of the match just before the 60th minute. For the rest of the match the Canadians drove forward trying to pad their lead, first with Matheson ringing a swirving shot off the crossbar, before Sinclair, showed her lethal ability to finish with her second of the game in the closing minutes to finish the game 3-0 for the Canadians, and send them into their match with Sweden, brimming with confidence.

Moving forward, the Canadians will be concerned once again with who will start in the backline, as for the second game in a row, late in the match, a center back needed to be replaced, this time with Gayle going down to injury. It seems unlikely that Chapman or Zurrer will be ready for duty in a crucial match up with Sweden, a team that will place a far stiffer test to the makeshift Canadian backline.

Sesselmann put in a solid performance at center back after replacing Gayle, but should she start at center back against the Swedes, the Canadians will lose her runs down the left flank which have been an important part of the Canadians attack thus far. South Africa will look to limit the damage in their next match against the Japanese, as they face a tough challenge against the world champions who will be looking to rebound from a scoreless tie with Sweden.

Introduction Blog

My name is Eva and I play soccer on a competitive u11 team in Santa Clara, California. My team is called the Sparks, and I first started playing for my team in the spring. Before I played on the Sparks, I played on a great recreational team. Unfortunately, after the 2011 fall season was over, some of the other girls had to leave the team for other activities, such as swimming, ballet, and other competition teams.

Since our old team was breaking up, some of the girls were going to try out for competitive spring soccer and my coach encouraged me to try out too. I was really nervous and afraid I was going to make a mistake. I was so freaked out, I sat on the sideline and didn’t go onto the field until the very end, but then I realized that I really wanted to be on the team.

The next day was the last day of tryouts and I still felt scared, but my mom said, “I’m not making you try out. If you want to do this, get out there and do it. Otherwise, let’s go home and get warm!”

I ended up making the team, which was super awesome because I really like playing soccer. More about my team later…

Somebody who has really influenced me is Bianca Henninger, the goalie for Santa Clara University. The first time I saw her play I was amazed because I had never seen anybody play like that before. Since I was a goal keeper I really wanted to watch her play the whole time. In my opinion Bianca Henninger is the best goal keeper I have ever seen!

The Santa Clara Broncos are my favorite team, but I also love the US national women’s team, especially Alex Morgan and Hope Solo. Santa Clara is a great place for people who love soccer because of the great college teams but also because of the Earthquakes. I saw the Earthquakes play LA Galaxy this summer and it was cool because I got to see David Beckham score. Luckily the Earthquakes still won!

Some things I’m looking forward to this summer are the Olympics – the soccer, of course. I’m also looking forward to my team soccer camp and tournament in August, and the start of the Broncos fall season.

Next time: What it’s like to play competitive soccer…

Olympic Recap: Day One

by Tiffany Weimer

When you think of England what usually comes to mind is the changing of the guards, and not necessarily the changing of the flags. Right?

Maybe not now?

Dear Future Organizers of the major world events: Google is a very helpful tool. Furthermore if you are going to mess up a flag, perhaps choose two countries that have not been embittered towards each other for the last 60 years. In addition, did ya think they wouldn’t notice?

Despite the exciting football that was on display in day one of the Olympics, day one will be remembered most, not for fantastic goals or almost-upsets, but for a screw up of epic proportions when Olympic event organizers displayed the South Korean flag next to a North Korean player. North Korea promptly did not take the field in protest, causing their game versus Colombia to be delayed by over an hour.

Notes for 2016: Get correct flags.

So what else happened yesterday? 

Here is our game recap for New Zealand vs. Great Britain
And video highlights

Recap of Japan vs. Canada

Moving on to the U.S. vs. France…

With what likely shocked everyone but no one, France went up early on the U.S. after scoring two goals in the first ten minutes. The first a rocket from about 20 yards out by Gaetane Thiney and the second a strike from inside the 18-yard-box by Marie-Laure Delie.

It was hard to tell if the French were surprised by their own two goals or if they were just nervous about what was to come.

Scoring two early goals against the U.S. is like waking a bear.

After losing Shannon Boxx to injury (seems to be a hamstring injury) a more offensive Carli Lloyd stepped on and the game changed. The bear was awoken. In the 16th minute Abby Wambach got on the end of a Megan Rapinoe corner kick and without a solid man mark, headed the U.S a goal back.

France then realized they had woken the bear and it would be an uphill battle from there.

In the 30th minute, a punted ball from Hope Solo just barely missed the head of Wambach as she tried to flick it on to Alex Morgan who was streaking through the French defense. The ball got through untouched allowing Morgan to stay onside and side foot it over goalkeeper Sarah Bouhaddi’s head to tie the game at two.

The second half started in similar fashion as the U.S. kept attacking with numbers, this time getting their flanks more involved, including lots more touches for players like Rapinoe and Tobin Heath.

A Rapinoe square ball set up one of Lloyd’s famous long-range shots that hit the back of the net from outside the 18-yard-box. The goal put the U.S. up 3-2 in the 55th minute.

Lazy defending by the French allowed Heath in behind on the left side from a mint through ball by Rapinoe. Heath took the ball end line and with a little toe poke, sent the ball across the goal where a sliding Wambach made a near post run that dragged her defender, allowing Morgan an easy tap-in goal at the back post in the 65th minute. That was a mouthful. But such an eventful goal.

Morgan’s second goal of the game would be the last of the match as the final whistle blew. The final score stood at 4-2 and although France had a dream start, they couldn’t be happier for that whistle to blow at the end.

Highlights

Brazil vs. Cameroon

Francielle started the game off with a brilliant free kick, followed by a corner kick that found the head of Renata Costa to give Brazil an early 2-0 lead on Cameroon.

Giving up two set piece goals in the first 10 minutes and going into the half with a 2-0 deficit to Brazil was pretty darn good for Cameroon.

That would be good for most teams against Brazil.

The second half would tell a different story and that would be where Marta and Cristiane would come in. After a Marta penalty kick, the rest would be downhill for Cameroon. I do think they were more impressive than most thought, especially with this being their first major event and playing against one of the best teams in the world. I wouldn’t count Cameroon out of getting points this tournament.

The positives for Brazil? They didn’t let up a goal. In the past there have been defensive lapses in their games, so a clean sheet to start the tournament could be a sign of things to come.

North Korea vs. Colombia

Despite the delay, which was quite a big deal, the North Koreans went on to beat Colombia 2-0 from goals by Kim Song Hui.

After going off with an injury though, it’s in North Korea’s best interests to do everything they can to get her ready for the next match.

Fitness seemed to be a concern for both teams throughout and it just makes me wonder what teams do when they go into their preparation camps. If they were to watch any game film on the U.S. or Japan they would see how fitness is such a major factor, especially in a short tournament like the Olympics.

Colombia need a change if they’re to claim any points in this tournament. And North Korea will be hopeful that their correct flag appears in their next showing.

Sweden vs. South Africa

This was the one game I was unable to watch. Disappointing to say the least as one of my favorite players was on the pitch for Sweden in Lotta Schelin. Here is a link to the game report provided by Ray Curren at All White Kit.  And the one from The Equalizer.

Photo by Mirko Kappes
Photo by Mirko Kappes

Olympic Recap: Canada vs. Japan

by Ciara McCormack

Canada-Japan was an opening match that some felt had the makings for an upset. With Canada’s much heralded new coach John Herdman, the return of one of Canada’s best players Diana Matheson to a midfield that has struggled going forward and Canada’s advantage physically, some thought that the Japanese could be surprised. Yet it was a game of eery deja-vu both to their clash with the U.S. in June in Salt Lake, as well as bearing similarities to the first game of the 2011 Women’s World Cup where they faced a world power in Germany.

As in the game against the U.S., the score was 2-1 in favor of Canada’s opponents, Melissa Tancredi finished solidly in the mid 50th minute (55′ v Japan, 57′ v US), there was a miscommunication between goalkeeper Erin McLeod and defender Carmelina Moscato that resulted in a goal, and Lauren Sesselmann again played goalkeeper, making a wonderful stop off the line against the Japanese, as she did against the U.S., that may prove crucial in goal differential moving forward.

Like the 2011 World Cup in Germany, Canada was facing a worthy opponent who at times outmatched them, but who they managed to keep the scoreline close with. As Christine Sinclair left the field with a broken nose against Germany in the opening game of the World Cup, Canadian fans similarly held their breath, as Candace Chapman, a stalwart in Canada’s backline, limped off the field in obvious pain, and out of the stadium on crutches, leaving her participation for at least the rest of the opening round in doubt. When Chapman was injured in the 84th minute, Herdman had used up all of his subs, including two curious simultaneous substitutions of his outside backs in the 70th minute, that left the Canadians short a man for the duration of the match.

Photo by Mirko Kappes

The Japanese showed their comfort and skill on the ball, effortlessly switching the ball from side to side, displaying short passes, as well as spraying the ball long, causing the Canadians to spend good portions of the match chasing. In the 33rd minute they stamped their authority on the match, as FIFA World Player of the Year, Homare Sawa sent a perfect outside of the foot chip into Shinobu Ohno. Ohno then showed her skill, back heeling the ball into the path of Nahomi Kawasumi and her shot beat McLeod. Just over 10 minutes later was the collision between McLeod and Moscato who was positioned to clear the cross. Miyama headed the ball easily in to take the game into half time. After Sesselmann’s goal saving heroics in the 51st minute, Tancredi again showed her ability to finish, as she timed her run well, and finished a fantastic cross from right back Rhian Wilkinson who had gotten up the line. The Canadians fought for a tying goal as balls were aimed forward towards Sinclair, but the Japanese paid the top Canadian attacker due attention, thus negating her to ability to influence the match. The Canadians finished the match admirably with ten men on the field but a great concern moving forward will be who will replace Chapman as she crumpled to the ground in obvious pain with no contact. Emily Zurrer, another center back with Olympic experience was sidelined for the opening match due to a hamstring tear, so all eyes will be on the Canadian defense as they face South Africa who lost to Sweden 4-1. South Africa’s lone goal came from a fantastic shot by striker Portia Modise in the 60th minute.

Olympic Recap: Great Britain vs. New Zealand

by Eleri Earnshaw

First half

Team Great Britain manager Hope Powell has largely stuck with the familiar in selecting her Team GB squad. Only two of the 18-strong squad are non-English: defender Ifeoma Dieke and midfielder Kim Little, both starting today, the Scottish representation for Team GB.

The significance of this match for Powell and her squad is obvious and her pre-game thoughts were mirrored in her team’s performance. “It’s our first time as Team Great Britain and you will be nervous, but I’m sure they will rise to the occasion.”

Team GB certainly had a nervy start to the game, not having a quality spell of possession until 15-20 minutes in. Ali Riley made an immediate impression for New Zealand and looked dangerous from the get-go on the left flank, getting forward at every opportunity and delivering some tempting balls into the box.

GB climbed into this contest by simplifying their game and making quicker, more intelligent decisions on the ball. They dominated the last 30 minutes of the first half as they made a commitment to get numbers forward. Alex Scott in particular looked dangerous from her familiar right back position as she so often does.

The best chances of the half fell to Anita Asante who after being booked in the 3rd minute, got on the end of three consecutive deliveries into the New Zealand penalty area but could not capitalize on any of the three free headers. Her intent and willingness to get forward, served as inspiration for her teammates and that set the tone for the remainder of the game.

Kelly Smith, returning to form from injury, not having much impact in the first half. She found herself having to drop very deep to find the ball. Not very effective paying as a lone striker, but Eniola Aluko to her left provided some attacking threat every time she got the ball.

NZ looked very reactive as the halftime break neared.

GB was the dominant side as they entered halftime. Ever wiling to work both ways, working hard defensively and getting involved in the attack.

Second half

Great Britain re-established their authority after another 10-minute spell of nervy soccer.

A great chance wasted by Team GB as substitute Ellen White took too long to get her shot off. Alex Scott still getting high and pinning Riley, NZ only real danger thus far, back deep in her own half.

The breakthrough for GB came in 64th minute as Amber Hearn’s wreckless challenge on Alex Scott awarded a free kick at the top of the box for GB.

Stephanie Houghton stepped up to the ball and put away a well-placed free kick that went in between the wall and the runner, into the lower right hand corner of the goal.

After the goal, there was a new sense of urgency from NZ as they approached the last 15 minutes of play.

Sarah Gregorius had the chance of the match as a collision between two GB defenders set her on a breakaway which was handled easily by GB goalkeeper Karen Bardsley.

Both halves started with NZ on top before Team GB took control and asserted itself on the game. Fortunately for the home team, they were able to finish one of many chances in the second half.

Perhaps not the most consistent 90 minutes of soccer from Team GB, but a win is a win. If they continue to build form today’s performance, establish a confidence and rhythm earlier in the next game, they may peak at just the right time.

Player of the Match: Anita Asante
Highlights

Eleri Earnshaw is a former Welsh National Team player who went through the system from U-14 to the Full team. She played college soccer at Long Island University from 2008-2010 where she earned a degree in Biology and masters in Exercise Physiology. She is currently the head coach of the U14 and U18 SoccerPlus ECNL teams as well as an assistant at Central Connecticut State University and a Sports Performance Coach at ASTC.

Life After Soccer: Danielle Fotopoulos

“Life After Soccer” Wow! I do have life after soccer, however, it still involves the game that has helped me along my path of life I am now a wife of a soccer coach, a mom of three, almost four, soccer players, and for my career path, I have become a head coach at Eckerd College!

So, I have continued my life, however, it is far from soccer. I am into soccer because it is not what I choose to do; it is part of the culture of my family. We love soccer and breath it every day, because it is part of our family!

We love Christ first, and our family is United in Him! However, we are also members of the Tampa Bay United soccer club, too. So, in short, I have “Life After Soccer”, but soccer and life are not two different things for me, because soccer is not just what we do as a family, it is how we share Christ with others and we see soccer as an opportunity for unity and hope for all people!

Thank you for the opporutnity to share my life with others!

Peace and Blessings,
Danielle Fotopoulos
PS Go Coaches!

Danielle Fotopoulos (Formerly Danielle Garrett) was a forward for the U.S. Women’s National Team from 1996-2005. The Pennsylvania native was a member for the historic U.S. team that won the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup. In college at the University of Florida, she led the Gators to national championship in 1998. Fotopoulos played with the Carolina Courage in the WUSA and won the Founder’s Cup with the Courage in 2002.

Damallsvenskan Round 12: Tyresö enter summer break on top of the table

The Swedish Damallsvenskan recently wrapped up Round 12, and now the league takes a break until Aug. 15, as several players from various teams are heading to the Olympics with their respective countries. Here is a full recap of Round 12′s matches.

By Rainer Fussgänger

Tyresö FF vs Kopparberg/Göteborgs FC 3-1
Attendance: 1,713
Tyresö: Marta (Annica Svensson) 58′, Elaine Moura (Vero Boquete) 62′,Marta (Vero Boquete) 77′
Göteborg: Sara Lindén (Johanna Almgren) 42′

Caroline Seger goes in for the challenge in Tyresö’s win over Kopparberg/Göteborgs FC (Photo by Rainer Fussgänger)

Last year, Tyresö lost everything in their home match against Göteborg, falling behind 3-0 after only 20 minutes. This year is different. Although Tyresö wins convincingly and is the far better side, it seems that Tyresö is still a group of extremely gifted individuals more than a perfect team. In most of the cases though that is enough to beat the opponents. Göteborg played a good first half where Tyresö had the chances, but Göteborg scored the goal. The second half was Marta’s, and in my eyes she played her best match on Swedish soil since she left Umeå more than three years ago. Her two goals are the difference between the sides in this match and Göteborg is now only 6th and 11 points behind Tyresö. That seems to be impossible to manage in the last 10 games.

Elaine Moura scored once for Tyresö in the 3-1 win (Photo by Rainer Fussgänger)

Djurgården vs Linköpings FC 1-4
Attendance: 423
Djurgården: Jessica Landström (Mia Jalkerud) 89′
Linköping: Nora Holstad Berge 12′, Manon Melis (Emma Lundh) 30′, Emma Lundh 62′, Emma Lundh 85′

Linköping celebrates one of its four goals vs. Djurgården (Photo by Rainer Fussgänger)

Linköping has turned the page, and they have learned to score. With Dutch Manon Melis in good form again, and with Emma Lundh scoring two goals against her former team mates of Djurgården, Linköping continues its rise to the top of the table. Djurgården had no chance to stop the quick forwards and offensive midfielders Melis, Emma Lundh, and Lisa DeVanna. The Stockholm team goes into the break with only a few hopes left to be able to avoid relegation. Without a bunch of new players to give them a new injection, I see Djurgården in the 2nd division next year.

Linköpings Louise Fors (Photo by Rainer Fussgänger)

LdB FC Malmö vs KIF Örebro 2-1
Attendance: 840
Malmö: Emma Wilhelmsson (Ramona Bachmann) 3′, Anja Mittag (PK) 78′
Örebro: Elin Magnusson 66′

Champions Malmö needed a penalty to take the three points against KIF, which has played their worst season in years yet. But play has improved during the last month for Örebro. Swedish WNT centre back Sara Larsson is back, but she will miss the Olympic Games because of her lack in match experience this year. Malmö’s coach Peter Moberg criticized the Swedish Soccer Federation for letting Damallsvenskan play while the U19 European Championships are being hold in Turkey. Malmö had to play without centre back Amansa Ilestedt and midfielder/forward Elin Rubensson who are essential players in Swedens U19 NT.

Vittsjö GIK vs Jitex BK 1-0
Attendance: 1,009
Vittsjö: Danesha Adams (Kendall Fletcher) 69′

Vittsjö finishes the first half of this season as 3rd behind Malmö and Tyresö. Whoever put money on that in March has probably earned a fortune. Even when Vittsjö does not play at their best, they are able to win matches. That positive conclusion gave their coach Thomas Mårtensson. Jitex has a losing streak of four matches now. The only goal was an American combination of centre back Kendall Fletcher and midfielder Danesha Adams who scored her seventh goal.

Kristianstads DFF vs Piteå IF 3-2
Attendance: 684
Kristianstad: Johanna Rasmussen 40′, Becky Edwards (Johanna Rasmussen) 74′, Kosovare Asllani (PK) 93′
Piteå: Sofie Persson 3′, June Pedersen (Ann Mari Dovland) 65′

It is quite unusual to criticize referees in Sweden. It happened after the game between KDFF and Piteå. Twice in the lead, Piteå was beaten by a penalty three minutes into stoppage time. Both coaches and several players had no good words for referee Sara Persson. Kristianstads coach Elisabet Gunnarsdottir could not understand her opponents bad temper: “Before I came to the press conference, I saw a video of the situation, and to me it was a clear penalty for us.”

Rainer Fussgänger, of Germany, lives in Sweden and speed Followed the Damallsvenskan for eight years now.Living in Stockholm with three clubs (Djurgården, Hammarby, and Tyresö) around the corner, he is lucky to see a lot of games. You-can follow Rainer on Twitter  @ ffschweden  and check out his website at http://ffschweden.wordpress.com .