July 9, 2011
U.S., Brazil women face off yet again in knockout round
WOLFSBURG, Germany -- It just wouldn’t be a Women’s World Cup or an Olympics game without a United States-Brazil confrontation in the knockout rounds.
|The pressure will be on Christie Rampone and the rest of the U.S. defense to shut down Marta and the rest of the Brazil attack in Sunday’s Women’s World Cup semifinal in Dresden.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
The teams met in the 2004 and 2008 Olympic gold-medal matches and in the 2007 Women’s World Cup semifinals.
The U.S. prevailed in both Summer Games encounters, but were embarrassed at the WWC semifinals by the South Americans, 4-0, a result that was fueled by a goalkeeping controversy. Then coach Greg Ryan decided to bench regular goalkeeper Hope Solo for veteran Briana Scurry, citing the latter’s record vs. the South American side. The move backfired and cost Ryan his job as the U.S. finished third.
This time around, the two rivals will face off in Sunday's quarterfinals in Dresden at 11:30 a.m. ET (ESPN).
The Americans could have avoided playing the Brazilians this early, but they finished second in Group C after losing their first group match ever at a WWC to Sweden, 2-1 on Wednesday.
“We knew it could happen,” Solo said. “Brazil’s a great team with great individual players. Of course they have the best individual player [Marta] but there are holes. You can find holes in their defense and their midfield and there’s space to play. If we come to play and play as a team we can come out on top. If we play well we can really take it to Brazil.”
Striker Abby Wambach, who scored the lone goal against the Swedes, was optimistic the U.S. could overcome Brazi
“We wanted to go out first [place] in our group but we didn’t,” she said. “We want to go into this next game with a positive attitude and that’s kind of the theme we’ve had in the whole run up to this World Cup. There are going to be bumps in the road and in order for us to be standing on the top podium at the end of this tournament we have to turn something that could be perceived as a negative into a positive and that’s what we’re going to do.”
The U.S.’s top challenge is Marta, hands down the best women’s player in the world. They have managed to stop her in the last two Olympics, especially behind Solo’s superb goalkeeping in Beijing three years ago. But sooner or later Marta will break out.
“Brazil is definitely a great team to play against,” U.S. captain and defender Christie Rampone said. “We’ll have to get past them at some point to win the tournament, but now we may be going in a different path and playing them a little bit earlier. Marta is a great player, one of the best in the world, and there is nothing like playing them in the quarterfinals.”
The Americans have to put the Sweden loss behind them.
“I don’t think this is really going to affect us,” Rampone said. “The way that we ended the game and how positive the team felt about how we played in the second half, we need to take that momentum going forward.”