Hope Solo goes up against Brazil today
In a short while, team USA plays what will be one of its most important matches – important because the trope of the USA being a dominant force in women’s soccer rides on how they perform in this World Cup. The competition has seen Norway and Germany crash out, two traditional rivals of the US and in their place France and Japan have been installed as rising powers. Sweden is the only country that have matched their on paper credentials.
The US have done well considering Abby Wambach managed her first goal only in the third and final group match in the 1-2 loss against Sweden. They’ve been infected by remarkable inefficiency like the men’s team in converting scoring opportunities. Much has to do with a sort of inbuilt shot clock which does not allow the play to develop leading to low percentage shots. Against Sweden, they created far more opportunities but their finishing let them down. Against Brazil they will need to maximize all the scoring chances they get.
They have an overwhelming record against the Selecao but their more recent encounters have been quite close. One of the key match ups will be how the US centrebacks deal with Cristina and Rosana. Marta loves to play down the wings cutting in and trying to find Cristina playing closer to goal with Rosana roaming upfield to try her hand at those long range sizzlers. Does Pia Sundehage go with Amy LePielbet shadowing Marta everywhere she goes like Bruna did for Equatorial Guinea? There are pros as Marta was rendered ineffective in the first half but Brazil went to its myriad attacking options running out easy victors by match end.
The USA should start Heather O’ Reilly with her attacking instincts and drive proving to be a more attractive option than Shannon Boxx. Against Sweden there was too much time spent in midfield and O’Reilly should bring a more direct style.
A note on Solo. She has shown little after effects of the right shoulder surgery so far but there have been reports of having difficulties with full extension.The Brazilians will test her from distance to see if this is indeed true.
Update: Pia Sundaghe has included both O’Reilly and Boxx. The inclusion of Boxx brings a more defensive mindset with her shadowing Marta in her free role.