Tuesday, June 28, 2011

2011 FIFA Women's World Cup Team USA Watch- Playing North Korea Today

The FIFA world Number one ranked Team USA women kick off FIFA Women's World Cup play with their Group C deja vu match in Dresden against North Korea.    Just in case you're wondering, it will be broadcast like all of the FIFA Women's World Cup action on ESPN.

The 2008 Olympic champions are facing questions as to whether this Pia Sundhage coached edition of Team USA has the right stuff to win their first FIFA world title since 1999.   In addition to goalkeeper Hope Solo's recovery from reconstructive shoulder surgery last September, they are adjusting to a European styled possession based attack that's less reliant on long balls.  That change in style may be a factor in why a team that has lost only four matches from 2005-2009 has dropped three matches since November and lost a closed scrimmage to Norway 3-1 just last week. 

Coach Sundhage isn't concerned, but nervous Team USA fans (myself included) are.  Recent history will guarantee the Team USA players or their fans will take the FIFA No. 8 ranked North Koreans lightly.  

In the 2007 FIFA Women's World Cup that was held in China, Team USA opened up group play against the North Koreans and found themselves trailing 2-1 after the North Koreans scored two goals in the 58th and 60th minutes.   Heather O'Reilly saved Team USA from a shocking loss with her goal in the 69th minute that helped Team USA salvage a 2-2 draw.

That game later turned out to be critical to both teams qualifying out of Group B into the knockout round.

The 2011 edition of Team USA can help quell those queasy stomachs of their fans by playing a solid game today and getting a win to get off to a good start in this FIFA World Cup Tournament.  They are also aware that how they play in this match against the mystery team from North Korea will go a long way toward determining whether this team is perceived as a pretender or contender.

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