2015 WWC: US Wins the Group 1-0 vs. Nigeria

20 Jun

Group D’s final group match showed a stronger looking American side meeting a proud Nigerian team in a good match in Vancouver.

The Americans were already in to the knock out rouds but this game would decide whether they would win the group and help decide whom they would meet in the next round. Preferring not to meet Brazil this early in the tournament or have the long travel to Moncton, the ladies in white got the job done with a nice goal from Abby Wambach, which ties her with German Birgit Prinz and trailing Brazil’s Marta in World Cup goals.

It was good to see Abby back in the starting line up and she made her presence known by setting up an immediate goal scoring chance for Julie Johnston. Sadly she was just offside.

This game showed a marked improvement from the match against Sweden. Energy levels were higher. The tempo of the match was stronger. Tobin Heath showed some patience in her runs along the flanks and Klingenberg had some good runs as well. However, there is still a lot of work to do with the accuracy of passing. This needs to get better as they move into the knockout rounds.

Megan Rapinoe had more room to do her thing throughout the midfield and while the Nigerians had speed, they just didn’t have the organization to mark her out of the game like the Swedes were able to do.

Of course my favorite part of Rapinoe’s match came at the end of the half with her lovely corner to Abby Wambach for the goal in the 45th minute.

I particularly liked that Abby scored using her feet. Her headers are legendary but this goal showed that her feet are as deadly as her head. JMHO.

The second half had more action from Alex Morgan. Morgan had some good play in the first half, most notably in a good clearance from the back in the early minutes but I prefer her in the front of the attack, rather than the back!  She showed just that with a nice attack on goal in the 48th minute and it was great to see that speed coming back.

Alex+Morgan+cz51CGlvccpmThe Nigerians lost a lot of their patience and organization in this match. They could no longer rely so heavily on their speed and unfortunately they let their frustration out in rough fouls throughout the second half. There was a rough foul on Wambach by Chukwunonye and  Nnodim got caught a few times with clumsy tackles and in one case a two footed tackle. She ended up seeing yellow twice and was ejected from the match.

With that said, the Nigerians have a lot of good things to take away from this tournament. The team has made some huge improvements in the last few years alone. They have great talent. They have massive speed. They have potential for good organization. They just need to work on discipline and an emphasis more on teamwork rather than just individual flair.

There’s been a lot written about the struggles the Super Falcons and I highly recommend reading up on them. (Check out Grant Wahl’s twitter feed to get some links to articles about the burdens these women carry. Some of these are the crushing rules against homosexuality, which has ongoing effects on women’s sports as well as the fears regarding Boko Haram. These are only two of many issues the Super Falcons face every day.) I salute their bravery and I look forward to seeing them again in the tournaments to come.

I wish I could say the same about their coach. We started the tournament with strange press conferences with Coach Okon and ended with him refusing to shake hands with Coach Ellis. There have been plenty of rumors on why he refused but it all comes down to the same thing – no class. Not sorry to see him go.

But let’s not end on a sour note. I, for one, have to share just how happy I was to see veterans Shannon Boxx and Christie Rampone on the pitch — Such fierce women showing their leadership. At ages 37 and 39 (Rampone turns 40 on the 24th) respectively, these woman rock my world.

Here are some highlights for you:

Line Ups

US

Solo, Krieger, Johnston, Sauerbrunn, Klingenberg, Rapinoe (Boxx), Holiday, Lloyd, Heath (Rampone), Morgan (Leroux), Wambach (captain)

Nigeria

Dede, Nnodim, Chukwunonye, Ebi, Ebere, Oshoala, Nwabuoku (captain), Okobi, Ordege (Nku), Dike (Oparanozie), Sunday (Ayinde)

Attendance: 52, 193

– ForzaSusan

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