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Rivals make soccer more fun. My first year playing recreational soccer, our biggest rival was a team that we always tied, but could never beat. We looked forward to playing them the next year, but they went to the comp league, which was really disappointing. The good thing was that our coach arranged a special scrimmage with them and then we finally beat them. We were feeling really good about ourselves until he arranged a scrimmage with a class 1 team, who creamed us. Ouch! Read more

Bundesliga, Match Day 3: No surprises on the first full match day

by Olaf Goldbecker

1.FFC Frankfurt v Bayer Leverkusen 4:2 (2:1)
New coach and a win but still Frankfurt had more problems than expected. And this despite of a good start, Jessica Wich already scored after five minutes. Yet Leverkusen answered and tied the match 15 minutes later. Frankfurt recovered quickly as Dszenifer Marozsan scored the lead again. Right after the break, Kim Kulig added for the 3:1 scoreline and now everybody expected the game to be decided – but Leverkusen fought back and Ramona Petzelberger got her team closer on a penalty kick. With eight minutes left on the clock, Kerstin Garefrekes finally relieved the fans with the final goal of the day.

SC Freiburg v FSV Gütersloh 4:1 (1:1)
Fifteen minutes after the break killed the newly promoted team from Gütersloh and cared for the first setback. The visitors started well and scored the lead by Anja Barwinsky. Freiburg had an answer after nearly half an hour when Chioma Igwe tied for the home team. After changing sides Freiburg powered over Gütersloh and decided the game. Juliane Meier, Fiona O’Sullivan and Claire Savin turned the score into a 4-1 win.

VfL Wolfsburg v VfL Sindelfingen 6:0 (3:0)
One of the title candidates, Wolfsburg started into the season with an easy game. It was expected that Sindelfingen would suffer the third high loss of this campaign, and so it happened. Verena Faißt, Conny Pohlers and Nadine Keßler scored within 18 minutes and an even much higher result had to be feared. Wolsfburg showed mercy and only let three more goals follow in the second half, scored by Alexandra Popp in her Wolfsburg debut, Lena Goessling on a penalty kick, and Faißt closed the scoring.

FCR Duisburg v Turbine Potsdam 0:4 (0:2)
What used to be a top game in the past was a one sided matter this time. It was known that Duisburg lost way too many players to play for the top and Potsdam indeed had no problems getting easy three points on the road. Patricia Hanebeck and Yuki Ogimi scored at about the 15-minute mark before Natasa Andonova and Antonia Göransson increased the score.

Bayern München v FF USV Jena 4:0 (1:0)
Another game where the roles were pretty clear right from the start, but Jena was competitive for a long time – and this although Isabell Bachor already scored in minute 3 for her team. Similar to the Freiburg v Gütersloh game, also here the opening 15 minutes of the second half decided the game. First it was Sarah Hagen to score on a penalty kick, then Lena Lotzen, who came in at halftime, added a pair for the final result.

SC Bad Neuenahr v SG Essen-Schönebeck 1:0 (0:0)
Essen could not confirm the performance of the win over Frankfurt in the previous week. Bad Neuenahr and Essen, two teams with similar quality, delivered the only close one-goal-game of the matchday. It took long until something developed but in minute 65 Peggy Kuznik scored the lone goal of the day. Essen’s striker Charline Hartmann was sent off with two yellows shortly before the end of the game.

Situation: the standings have to be seen in the light of the different number of games which are played. Potsdam (2 games) and Frankfurt (3) sit on top with six points. They are chased by a bunch of teams with three points : Wolfsburg, München, Freiburg, Bad Neuenahr (all 1), Gütersloh and Essen (both 2). Consequently there are four teams without point, which are Leverkusen, Duisburg (both 1), Jena (2) and Sindelfingen (3). Next week will feature a key matchup between Potsdam and Frankfurt as highlight.

Damallsvenskan Round 16

by Rainer Fussgänger

Vittsjö GIK vs Umeå IK 2-3
Attendance: 628
Vittsjö: Emma Sjödahl 26′, Sandra Adolfsson 35′
Umeå: Maria Nordbrandt 14′, Rita Chikwelu 29′, Emma Berglund 57′

The fairy tale seems to slowly come to an end. Vittsjö lost their first home game in almost two years to Umeå. Three times the former champions from Northern Sweden took the lead and Vittsjö could equalize, but when Emma Berglund scored 3-2 to Umeå with a header after a corner off assist queen Tuija Hyyrynen Vittsjö could not rise up again. Vittsjö remains in third position – no one had expected them to be there after 16 games played.

LdB FC Malmö vs Jitex BK 2-0
Attendance: 836
Malmö: Sofia Anker-Kofoed 29′, Ramona Bachmann 90+4′

The champions are still in 1st place in 2012. However, the 2-0 win against Jitex was everything but a convincing performance for LdB FC Malmö. Jitex plays a very physical game and Malmö had respect for that while missing midfielders Katrine Veje and Elin Rubensson. Only once Malmö showed their class – Al Riley reached a ball on the left side and her cross was met perfectly well by Sofia Anker-Kofoed and the 17-year-old who played for Katrine Veje scored a perfect goal. Jitex had opportunities to equalize, the best one by Leena Puranen who hit the cross bar. Malmö though could have scored a second goal during overtime when everybody had settled for a 1-0 win. Ramona Bachmann’s shot went through Minna Meriluoto’s gloves and the Finnish goalkeeper was pretty unhappy, but she had saved her side miraculously before when she put away a Lisa Ek header.

Piteå IF vs AIK 3-0
Attendance: 1015
June Pedersen 9′, Jennifer Nobis 80′, Hanna Pettersson 88′

Sunday was not a good day for the Stockholm teams. First out was AIK in Piteå and they didn’t have a g chance against Piteå which took three very important points in order to secure play in the Damallsvenskan in 2013. AIK had very few shots and Piteå was the better side.

Djurgården vs Kopparberg/Göteborgs FC 0-2
Attendance: 285
Göteborg: Christen Press 44′, Yael Averbuch 61′

Two American goals brought three more points for Göteborg which has no more but only 15 players left for the rest of the season since striker Linnéa Liljegärd left for Russian side Rossiyanka, a club that Yael Averbuch played for earlier this year.
Djurgården cannot score again with a sick Jessica Landström (fever) on the bench. Christen Press was very much invisible, but suddenly appeared scoring one minute before halftime. And that is surely what a forward is supposed to do. Averbuch who has convinced in every single match since she came to Swedenm scored her first goal and secured the victory for Göteborg and made Djurgårdens situation a little more hopeless as it was last week.

Linköpings FC vs Kristianstads DFF 1-1
Attendance: 542′
Linköping: Emma Lundh 79′
Kristianstad: Kosovare Asllani 40′

The first half was Kristianstad’s and they used only one of their opportunities to take the lead. But by high pressing, they were using a lot of energy and in the last 30 minutes it was all Linköping which could equalize through Lundh. Lisa DeVanna sat on the bench during the last two games, because she and Manon Melis do not harmonize too well on the pitch, but when the Australian came in in this game she had some very impressive action.

KIF Örebro vs Tyresö FF 0-5
Attendance: 2012
Tyresö: Caroline Seger 43′, Marta 47′, Madelaine Edlund 68′, Meghan Klingenberg 77′, Marta 81′

Another impressive win for Tyresö. The second half was marvellous and Marta gets better and better. The first half though was maybe the worst that Tyresö has played after the Olympic break. Örebro which lies ahead of only AIK and Djurgården created a couple of good chances and after 36 minutes everybody was shocked when Sarah Michael was taken down by Emilia Appelquist in a 1:1 situation on her way to the goal. The referee consulted her linesman and after a long discussion she showed yellow to Appelquist where dark red had been her only choice if she had followed the rules. That situation was decisive for the first half and Seger scored the first Tyresö goal after Marta’s assist. The second half was only Tyresö’s.

Bundesliga, Match Day 2: Essen stuns Frankfurt, Gütersloh celebrates opening win

by Olaf Goldbecker

Like last week, only two games were played due to the U20 World Cup. Nonetheless, these two games were interesting and delivered surprises. Both home teams played in new stadiums by the way:

SG Essen-Schönebeck v 1.FFC Frankfurt 3:1 (1:0)
As mentioned in OGM’s season preview: Essen is a real team without stars except for veteran Melanie Hoffmann as the engine for the game, while Frankfurt is the opposite – lots of individuals with quality but no real team and lacking striker quality. Exactly this was seen in the match yesterday. Frankfurt was superior but they had a high turnover rate and no scoring touch, while Essen had Hoffmann and a good team performance. Hoffmann scored the lead midway thru the first half, Frankfurt required a hand ball penalty kick to equalize by Melanie Behringer after about an hour. The assumption that Frankfurt would now turn it around was wrong, again Hoffmann cared for the lead for her team just minutes afterwards. In minute 72 Charline Hartmann scored the final goal of the game in Essen’s new stadium, which mainly is designed for the men’s team RW Essen and fits 20,640.

FSV Gütersloh v VfL Sindelfingen 4:0 (1:0)
The two newly promoted teams met in the brand new Tönnies Arena, a small but high quality stadium, which fits 4,250 and was just opened last week. Officially 1,315 watched the first ever Bundesliga match of the local team. For both teams it was a key game for the season as both are expected at the bottom of the standings. The start was nervous from both sides, but Gütersloh overcame this earlier and was rewarded. A good cross by former Virginia Beach Piranha Anja Barwinsky was converted by Maren Wallenhorst in the middle – it took Gütersloh 22 minutes to score their first Bundesliga goal in club history. Except for a distance shot hitting the crossbar right before halftime by Fabienne Dongus, Gütersloh now controlled the match. Marie Pollmann and Rebecca Granz added one in the opening third of the second half before Pollmann marked her second of the day short before the final whistle.

Damallsvenskan Round 15

by Rainer Fussgänger

The talk of the weekend in Sweden was not the ongoing struggle between Malmö and Tyresö, but the fact that US Soccer first released the news that Pia will not continue as coach for the USWNT and some hours later (midnight local time) the press release of the Swedish soccer federation that Pia Sundhage has agreed to sign a contract as the new head coach for the Swedish WNT until Dec, 31, 2016.
Pia Sundhage arrived in Stockholm on Monday and almost directly after landing she continued to Råsunda soccer stadium to meet media people. – A dream has come true, she said and referred to the fact that about 40 years ago she was not allowed to play soccer, just because she was a girl and that now many people would ask her for interviews and that she was actually standing on the green grass of the national soccer arena just outside Stockholm.
Pia Sundhage officially starts her engagement as head coach on Dec 1 this year and it is still open who will be her assistants.

Round 15 did not deliver bigger surprises. Anja Mittag scored goal #18 and is five goals ahead of Christen Press.

Jitex BK vs Djurgården 3-0
Attendance: 173
Jitex: Fridolina Rolfö 19′, Elin Karlsson 56′, Fridolina Rolfö 70′

Djurgården knew how important this match was, even Jitex knew it. It was Djurgårdens last chance to come closer to Jitex and Örebro in the overall standings and regarding the fact that Jitex had lost their goalgetter Annica Sjölund due to an ACL-injury a week ago, the Stockholm side surely had some great expectations.
How disappointing it then was that it was all about Jitex. 22:6 shots on goal showed that Jitex clearly was and is a much better team than Djurgården which remains last after this with Göteborg coming to Stockholm next Sunday and another last chance. Jitex has 16 points now, Djurgården 9.

AIK vs Vittsjö GIK 1-1
Attendance: 153
AIK: Maija Saari 36′
Vittsjö: Danesha Adams 5′

One point is not enough for AIK. It should have been three, the team had a very good period in the beginning of the second half, but they have no goal scorer. During the week they actually lost striker Susan Varli to Djurgården. Varli had scored five of AIK’s in total eleven goals. Rumour has it that she was suspended and the club did not want her anymore. Danesha Adams scored for Vittsjö after their third corner and Maija Saari equalized with a header.

Umeå IK vs KIF Örebro 0-1
Attendance: 425
Örebro: Linda Fransson 80′

With six points within a week Örebro has done a lot to avoid relegation this year. They were the sliglty better of two teams in Umeå and while Umeå had to play without their captain Emma Berglund (red card), Örebro went for a win and finally got it after a goal from last years top scorer in div 1, Linda Fransson.

Kristianstads DFF vs LdB FC Malmö 0-3
Attendance: 1026
Malmö: Ramona Bachmann 18′, 65′, Anja Mittag 70′

The Swiss and the German continue to take Malmö to victories. After they scored all five goals in Linköping last week they scored all three goals in Kristianstad in what was supposed to be a difficult away game. However, it turned out to be a demonstration of Malmö’s class.

Kopparberg/Göteborgs FC vs Piteå IF 2-1
Attendance: 312
Göteborg: Christen Press 36′, Linnéa Liljegärd 46′
Piteå: Jennifer Nobis 94′

Göteborg’s coach Torbjörn Nilsson had used all three subs after 75′ and Göteborg was leading 2:0. Five minutes later the trouble began. First goalkeeper Kristin Hammarström had to leave the pitch after a concussion. Midfielder Johanna Almgren has played handball as a girl and she was a goalkeeper in that sport before she decided to be a soccer player. Of course, Johanna had to change into a keeper jersey. Two minutes after that striker Sara Lindén had to leave due to a knee injury which unfortuntely on Wednesday turned out to be another ACL. Göteborg finished the match with only nine players.

Tyresö FF vs Linköpings FC 3-0
Attendance: 2063
Tyresö: Line Röddik Hansen 25′, Marta 31′, Caroline Seger 40′

Tyresö gave another performance of extra class. Loads of chances in the first half, the second half was a bit boring, because Linköping tried to give a better impression while Tyresö only did what was necessary to come out as the winning side – and that was not much. Linköping disappointed another time and when I spoke to Linköping’s coach Martin Sjögren after the game he seemed to be quite frustrated. “We played a disastrous first half. Malmö and Tyresö seem to play in their own division right now.”

Bundesliga, Match Day 1: Potsdam wins with ease, Frankfurt with trouble

by Olaf Goldbecker

Only two of six games took place on matchday 1, reason is the U20 World Cup in Japan. Four of the games were delayed to later points of time. Two of the powerhouses started into the season though. Both could have delayed their games due to U20 national team players but they felt strong enough without them – also Frankfurt’s opponent Jena has one player at the tournament but naturally they rather saw Frankfurt’s missing players as opportunity.

FFC Frankfurt v FF USV Jena 2:1 (0:1)
Nearly the first big surprise of the season happened in Frankfurt. Susanne Utes scored the lead for the visitors midway thru the first half, and a few minutes before halftime Frankfurt’s NT player Saskia Bartusiak was ejected for fouling as last player. One player short, Frankfurt turned it around in period two. An own goal off Carolin Schiewe tied the game with 20 minutes left on the clock, and new acquisition Simone Lauder rescued the three points in minute 87. Viewers of the match reported about a barely convincing performance of the powerhouse.

VfL Sindelfingen v Turbine Potsdam 1:9 (0:2)
It always is a difficult question for a newly promoted team whether it’s good to play a top team right at the season start, or if it’s better to start gently against easier opponents. For one half Sindelfingen did a solid job today and only allowed two goals, one each of Keelin Winters and Patricia Hanebeck. When Scottish player Lisa Evans increased after the break, Natalie Mann had an answer and got her team on the scoreboard but this just raised Potsdam’s motivation. Stefanie Mirlach and Yuki Ogimi, who until last season were still known as Yuki Nagasato, quickly increased the score. The result got extremely bitter when Potsdam added four goals within five minutes – Genoveva Anomna scored twice, Ogimi added her second, and Natasa Andonova marked one as well.

Bundesliga Preview, Part 6 of 6

by Olaf Goldbecker

Turbine Potsdam
The champion of the past four seasons has to undergo another major change. The financially stronger competitors from Frankfurt and Wolfsburg picked up several players and cared for Potsdam not being the favorite for the upcoming campaign. “I don’t understand soccer anymore if we are becoming champions again”, said coaching veteran Bernd Schröder who just turned 70. As reaction on the constantly leaving German NT players he relies on a strong base of internationals. Peter, Schmidt, Isabel Kerschowski and Odebrecht are key losses for the team, while Vidarsdottir never fulfilled the expectations. New addition Elsig is already out with a long term injury. Hopes rely on Keelin Winters and Stefanie Mirlach.

Additions: Heleen Jaques (VV St Truiden/Belgium), Keelin Winters (Seattle Sounders), Lisa Evans (Glasgow City), Johanna Elsig (Bayer Leverkusen), Sara Doorsoun-Khajeh (SC Bad Neuenahr), Stefanie Mirlach (Bayern München)

Losses: Babett Peter, Bianca Schmidt (1.FFC Frankfurt), Isabel Kerschowski (Bayer Leverkusen), Monique Kerschowski (retired), Margret Lara Vidarsdottir (Kristianstads DFF), Viola Odebrecht (VfL Wolfsburg), Daniela Löwenberg (unknown)

Predicted Finish: The losses are too big to finish on top again, the team has to click together very soon to make it happen. On paper, both Wolfsburg and Frankfurt have a stronger roster, but if someone can turn this into a successful season it definitely is Coach Schröder.

VfL Wolfsburg
Wolfsburg made big investments in the past, which resulted in the first ever Champions League participation. This is not the end of the road for the team, which is pumped with Volkswagen money. Major new acquisitions followed for this season, head coach and sporting director Ralf Kellermann wisely invested and the first ever title should not be far away in the future for the Wolves. The club sees no important players leaving, while mainly Popp and Odebrecht are key additions. The other new players are some of Germany’s biggest talents, which cares for a bright future.

Additions: Alexandra Popp, Luisa Wensing (FCR Duisburg), Viola Odebrecht (Turbine Potsdam), Carolin Simon (Hamburger SV), Annabel Jäger, Lina Magull (FSV Gütersloh), Lyn Meyer (Lok Leipzig)

Losses: Leni Larsen Kaurin (Stabaek/Norway), Nathalie Bock (BV Cloppenburg), Martina Moser (TSG Hoffenheim)

Predicted Finish: Wolfsburg and Frankfurt are the teams that invested the most but Wolfsburg did it wiser. The team is more balanced and offensively stronger. It would not be a big surprise to see the Wolves raise the trophy at the end of the season.

Damallsvenskan Round 14

by Rainer Fussgänger

Round 14 of the Damallsvenskan saw four games that had more than 1,000 spectators which makes Sweden a little more optimistic less than a year before the EURO 2013. Malmö and Tyresö continue to win and not it’s unexpected the championship will be decided between those two sides.

Vittsjö GIK vs Kristianstad 2-1
Attendance: 1572
Vittsjö: own goal 59′, Danesha Adams 84′ (PK)
Kristianstad: Susanne Moberg 34′

Kristianstad dominated the game, but Vittsjö scored the goals. That’s the summary Vittsjö’s Coach Thomas Mårtensson gave after the match. However, it is strong of Vittsjö to come back with a victory in this derby of Skåne after they lost 1-5 to Tyresö just a few days earlier. It demonstrates that Vittsjö is determined to fight for a top position behind Malmö and Tyresö.

Kopparberg/Göteborgs FC vs Umeå IK 5-0
Attendance: 463
Göteborg: Sara Lindén 35′, Christen Press 62′, Christen Press 64′, Anita Asante 76′, Amanda Edgren 90′

Göteborg jumps up and down this season, wanted to compete with Malmö and Tyresö, but lies far too much behind after 14 matches. However, they had a meeting and swore themselves now that they want to try to win every match to come despite the fact that the qualification for Champions League is out of reach. Christen Press scored her goals # 11 and # 12 this season and came closer to leading Anja Mittag of Malmö. Yael Averbuch gets a lot of good reviews for being the best player on the pitch in this match. Umeås team captain Emma Berglund was sent off in the last minute because of saying things to the referee.

AIK vs Djurgården 0-1
Attendance: 567
Djurgården: Jessica Landström 53′

Both Stockholm teams look like they will go down to Division 1 next year. While AIK could have come closer to Örebro and moved away from Djurgården, it was really Djurgården’s last chance. And Jessica Landström decided the match with her header in the 2nd half. The young team of AIK seems to have problems in matches they are supposed to win while they can play free and easy against the top teams. After this, all in all not very attractive match both AIK and Djurgården are four points behind Örebro and Jitex.

KIF Örebro vs Jitex 1-0
Attendance: 1027
Örebro: Sanna Talonen 57′

Örebro was close to bankruptcy four days before the game. The club desperately needed 400,000 Swedish crowns (approx $55,000) to carry on. The city of Örebro guaranteed that money on the same day and finally the people of Örebro showed their solidarity with KIF. More than 1,000 came to see the game against Jitex and many of them never attended a women’s soccer game before. Örebro won a close game thanks to a goal by Finnish striker Sanna Talonen and now they and Jitex have both 13 points. Jitex lost their Finnish international Annica Sjölund after 12′. Later, it turned out that Annica suffered an ACL and will be away for many months to come.

Piteå IF vs Tyresö FF 1-5
Attendance: 2203
Piteå: Jennifer Nobis 22′
Tyresö: Kirsten van de Ven 15′, Kirsten van de Ven 30′, Madelaine Edlund 31′, Caroline Seger 59′, Caroline Seger 78′

Tyresö seems unstoppable right now. Both Marta and Vero are close to their 100% and that makes Tyresö very strong. Piteå players were disappointed losing 1-5, they thought that the game was a little closer than the result seems to say, but it is evidence that there is a huge difference in the league.

Linköpings FC vs LdB FC Malmö 3-5
Attendance: 1863
Linköping: Manon Melis 35′, Jonna Andersson 54′,own goal 70′
Malmö: Ramona Bachmann 7′, Anja Mittag 63′, Anja Mittag 73′, Anja Mittag 83′, Ramona Bachmann 85′

Linköping was good. They equalized Malmö’s leading goal and they took the lead twice. But Malmö always came back. Anja Mittag was pretty much invisible in the first half and Göteborg’s Christen Press had scored two goals earlier and seemed to close in the gap to the top scorer. Mittag though showed why she is the most dangerous forward of Damallsvenskan this year. She was served by Bachmann and most of all big talent Elin Rubensson and scored her goals # 15-17 and turned the game in Malmö’s favor before Bachmann sent the ball into the net from about 25 meters to make it 5-3 for the defending champions. Bachmann and Mittag are Malmös equivalent to Marta and Vero. Many things point to that we’ll get a very important game in the last round of Damallsvenskan in November when those four ladies will meet in Malmö.