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Japan wins Woman's World Cup
July 18, 2011 9:26 AM   Subscribe

Congratulations to Japan!!! All that screaming practice paid off. Spirits are lifted.

Drama at the Women's World Cup. Japan won on penalty kicks after a dramatic match. But that wasn't the first game to have all sorts of interesting things going on.

Lots of people aren't too happy with the refs. Perhaps you'd like to hear it in their own words, though. Although I think everyone can agree that Bibiana Steinhaus (photo gallery here) had a better game than Howard Webb did in the men's WC final.

Ratings in the USA were up, but is it the sport or the flag that generates interest?
posted by josher71 (82 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
An unfortunate typo in the DW link: "[Bibiana Steinhaus will] be putting forward her case for a birth in the men's Bundesliga."
posted by jedicus at 9:29 AM on July 18, 2011 [4 favorites]


> but is it the sport or the flag that generates interest?

The former feeds the latter. If not for a dedicated base of fans the larger casual interest that kicks in when there is a title at stake wouldn't have a direction to plug into.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 9:34 AM on July 18, 2011


Abby Wambach is a hometown girl and I really wanted the US to take the cup but you can't deny how great this is for Japan right now.
posted by tommasz at 9:38 AM on July 18, 2011


Sickening stuff from Facebook: Racism and Jingoism among U.S. Soccer Fans. Those right there are Bad People.
posted by Plutor at 9:43 AM on July 18, 2011


Holy crap, Plutor. "Sickening" is exactly the right word.
posted by Vibrissa at 9:46 AM on July 18, 2011


Here be a lot of qualifiers:
- I am happy Japan won, they (the country) seriously needed a lift right now
- I am far and away not a jingoistic sort of person. Things being equal I will root for the most interesting/best players around no matter their flag of country.


but.. good grief, I think that it may be more accurate to say that the US lost the game rather than Japan won. I don't know if they where just over confident, or what, but cripes.

(and the US has been complaining about the officiating a lot recently)

All that being said, good on Japan for capitalizing on it and capturing the Cup
posted by edgeways at 9:49 AM on July 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


But I wonder how many of the "fans" Plutor links to actually care about the sport. I bet it's all flag for them.

As a fan of the sport, I've been on the fence about Japan winning and the US losing. I think it's pretty dismissive to assume that this was a choke of epic proportions. Japan looked good for most of the tournament (save for the match against England). They beat the reigning champions. That's nothing to sneeze at.

True, the US should have capitalized early on. Had they scored in the first 30 minutes, it would have been a different game but that didn't happen. They seemed a bit cocky, or maybe Japan was just more determined? Either way, it was a good game to watch and I was happy to see Japan cling on to the very end.
posted by kendrak at 9:53 AM on July 18, 2011


wow, plutor, the guy holding that save Darfur sign and saying japan should be hit by another tsunami...what
posted by Tarumba at 9:55 AM on July 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


The guy with the Save Durfur sign, wishing another tsunami on Japan. Cripes, only in the US!
posted by Danf at 9:57 AM on July 18, 2011



I was hoping the USA would win. But congrats to Japan especially after all the natural disasters they've had of late.
posted by Loki's Thunder at 9:57 AM on July 18, 2011


For either side to win in a shoot-out is a let-down. While there is a lot of skill involved one-on-one shots, there is more luck involved than in the rest of the game. But Japan played a great game, especially the second half. They weren't as aggressive in terms of shots attempted during the game, but in the end that didn't matter.


Plutor: Sickening stuff from Facebook: Racism and Jingoism among U.S. Soccer Fans. Those right there are Bad People.

Same as it ever was. Another simple test to find which people to de-friend.

kendrak: But I wonder how many of the "fans" Plutor links to actually care about the sport. I bet it's all flag for them.

A fine question. And can't the US come up with anything beyond chanting U-S-A! U-S-A!? Now is the time for a simple song to replace that idiotic chant.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:58 AM on July 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


It was a pretty solid game by both teams. The US could've put the game out of reach early on but failed to close several times. It seems like Morgan was the key to breaking open the game for the US. Once she came in at the half she really put a lot of pressure on the defense of Japan.

The first goal for Japan was largely the result of defensive miscues by the US defense. Basically you know you'll mess up a couple of times per game on defense and you hope that won't cost you a goal, in this case it did.

The Wambach goal was really intense but it seemed like the US kinda started going back into a defensive posture too soon. The late equalizer by Sawa was a superb goal by a very talented player on a set piece but it just seems like the US turtled when they should've been trying to stretch out a Japanese team that was really taking risks late.

The PKs were honestly pretty awful for the US. Wambach had a great shot but the rest were predictable, weak shots or that way overpowered boomer. It really let the Japanese shooters and the Goalkeeper of the hook and they seemed to gain confidence rapidly.
posted by vuron at 10:00 AM on July 18, 2011


I don't know, I think the fact that the United States has such a easily chantable name is pretty great.
posted by josher71 at 10:00 AM on July 18, 2011


One of the problems with being a US soccer fan is that the baggage of being patriotically American makes Americans feel bad about rooting for the US. The people who care about soccer tend to be liberal and more globally minded, and sometimes have trouble openly supporting the United States. The people in Plutor's link obviously aren't helping that.

In a perverse way, though, that also makes the kind of stuff in Plutor's link oddly refreshing; that's sports fans using the kind of absurdly offensive rhetoric that sports fans uses, only for a sport that struggles to get to attract that kind of fan in the US.

It's exactly like the "Finishing what Katrina started" signs that I remember seeing when the Bears played the Saints in the NFC title game, only since we already knew that people in Chicago loved the Bears, it was just offensive rather than interesting.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 10:00 AM on July 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hi Danf!

Also, no, don't say it's only in the USA. I have seen the same or worse elsewhere. People like to say it's the US, but really, it's just human nature. If you heard the things Peruvians, Ecuatorians and Chileans say about each other you would be disgusted, too.
posted by Tarumba at 10:07 AM on July 18, 2011 [7 favorites]


Yea, I still don't think that I could chant USA, USA. The "America, Love it or Leave it" folks have stolen all of the possible joy out of a national chant like that.
posted by octothorpe at 10:15 AM on July 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


Japan deserved to win. On the whole, USA played a better game but they lost a war of attrition. It happens that way in soccer, sometimes. If they had capitalized early - these women certainly know how to run an offense and they made a lot of opportunities they just didn't close on - it would have been a very different game.

As for the officiating: The Brazil game was absolutely horrible. We benefited from a missed hand ball, but almost everything else went against us. Yesterday's officiating was pretty good, though.

All in all, Team USA should be proud.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 10:18 AM on July 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's weird how "USA USA USA" has very primal feel when chanted by Americans that is lacking when others do it - like when the fans at Goodison chant USA for Tiim Howard. Seems almost lackadaisical by comparison.
posted by kendrak at 10:22 AM on July 18, 2011


Honestly, I'm happy to see this result. Logically, Team USA should have won that game, but sports aren't purely logical. The missed opportunities hurt, but that wasn't what sealed the game. Japan was hungry, they wanted it desperately. Now, I've seen more intense last second heroic drama (Landon Donovan's goal against Algeria in 2010. Seriously, I didn't know I could weep with joy over any sport until that moment) but there is no mistaking that passionate drive.

Team USA didn't lose the World Cup. Japan won it.
posted by Saydur at 10:30 AM on July 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


Ah, so that's what all that nonsense was about.

Today I learned:
1. There is a Women's World Cup
2. People (in the U.S.) actually pay attention to it
3. It is not held in the same year as the men's world cup (which is what threw me; I was like, wasn't that last year? And don't they only do it every 3 years?)

Thanks, MetaFilter!
posted by Eideteker at 10:33 AM on July 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


That was a thrilling finals match. And history making too! First asian nation to ever win a world cup. Congrats Japan!
posted by cazoo at 10:36 AM on July 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


(I'm somewhat of a soccer noob, so apologies in advance if this opinion is as annoying as hearing someone who just watched their first American football or baseball game tell you everything that is wrong about the sport)

I realize the US won the tournament in the same way in `99, so it isn't just sour grapes talking when I say that I find winning or losing the tournament via penalty kicks to be incredibly anti-climatic.

I know scoring tends to occur infrequently enough in soccer that simply adding additional overtimes isn't an ideal solution, but having your fate decided by penalty kicks following a lengthy match seems almost as arbitrary as having your fate on Survivor determined by purple rock (or perhaps a more appropriate analogy would be after a certain number of extra innings having a baseball game determined by an impromptu home run derby).
posted by The Gooch at 10:37 AM on July 18, 2011


I almost felt bad that, for all the storybook sympathy going to Japan over this win, the U.S. team wasn't really that easy to cast as a villain in this championship. I want to thank the people in plutor's link for helping out there.
posted by Navelgazer at 10:37 AM on July 18, 2011


Ah, so that's what all that nonsense was about.

Hooray for proudly flaunting ignorance?

I almost felt bad that, for all the storybook sympathy going to Japan over this win, the U.S. team wasn't really that easy to cast as a villain in this championship. I want to thank the people in plutor's link for helping out there.

Yes, because of course having bad fans means you're also a bad person.
posted by kmz at 10:40 AM on July 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


One of the problems with being a US soccer fan is that the baggage of being patriotically American makes Americans feel bad about rooting for the US. The people who care about soccer tend to be liberal and more globally minded, and sometimes have trouble openly supporting the United States. The people in Plutor's link obviously aren't helping that.

This socialist decided that I love the U.S. and want it to do well in everything that it can, regardless of the idiots who feel the same. Be the change you want to see, etc., etc..

A big difference is that having lost the game, I can congratulate the Japanese for winning. At the bar where I watched there was one Japanese-looking couple. At the end I asked them if they had been cheering for Japan, and congratulations (yeah, I was assuming a bit much, but what the hell). The woman smiled and said yes, while the guy said he had mixed feelings, and pulled out his U.S. passport. I rather liked that.

As for the play, I'm not a huge soccer fan, but I thought Alex Morgan's goal was a thing of beauty, the kind of thing I'd like to see more of.
posted by benito.strauss at 10:43 AM on July 18, 2011


the U.S. team wasn't really that easy to cast as a villain in this championship

I agree, though when one of the commentators yesterday mentioned offhand that someone's dad (I think Morgan's?) had offered to buy her a Lexus in return for scoring goals in high school, everyone I was watching with kind of winced at the contrast between "We are playing to give hope to our country in this tragic time" and "My dad's gonna buy me a car".
posted by Vibrissa at 10:44 AM on July 18, 2011


I remember being a soccer hooligan watching the Rochester Rhinos (A U.S. second-division team) in the late 1990s, including the 1999 season in which they won the U.S. Open Cup (beating multiple MLS teams to win it, and still the only non-MLS team to do so after the creation of MLS).

We didn't like the U-S-A chant then, because we were soccer fans and we had songs, and U-S-A was just uncreative. But we did use it to mock players on the USMNT when their MLS teams came to town, especially after the U.S. was the first to be eliminated from group play in the 1998 World Cup. "We could beat Iran" was another one of the chants we used to try to make the opponents upset. (We were assholes then.)

Nowadays I don't seem to mind the U-S-A chant as much. It's not that much worse than "Nippon" clap-clap-clap "Nippon" clap-clap-clap. Or "Dae Han Min Guk" clap-clap clap-clap-clap.
posted by bugmuncher at 10:47 AM on July 18, 2011


Factor: Hope Solo getting hurt three minutes before the end of extra time, with the score tied. You could come up with a worse time for a injury to a player, but you can't come up with many.

Her performance in the PKs was pretty miserable, but it was obvious to me her knee was bothering her a lot more than she was willing to let on. She doesn't move very far when she's defending PKs, but yesterday, she was hardly moving at all. If I'd been the US Coach, I'd have subbed in another goalie for a midfielder in the last minute, just so if it was obvious that Solo was hurt too badly, I could put another GK into the net.

I don't blame Solo -- unless she insisted to the physios that she was fine, in which case, she does bear some of the blame.

Now, the rest of the US team in the PKs were just miserable -- thought the first miss should have been a retake. The goalie may not leave the line before the ball is kicked, and she jumped about two steps out.

It was a game the US could have won, and should have. The professional foul at the end by Japan was ugly, and I'm starting to think that a red card isn't enough when there's very little time left in a game "Hmm, they'll throw me out of the group stage of some tournament in the future, but I'll a chance at the WC...."

But full credit to Japan -- they simply did not quit trying, and their passing was lightyears ahead of the US ability to move the ball. Count all the times that a pass bounced off a US player's foot when they were trying to receive, and how Japan's passes had enough force to get to the receiver, and not much more -- making for a vastly more controllable ball. Rapinhoe was the worst -- when she's on, she's on, but when she isn't, she's firing cannonballs into the wrong palace.

In the end, the US tried to play Japan's "move it up, set it up, take the shot" style, rather than using their speed and size to just try to run the ball up and blast it through -- and when you play the other team's game, you've already lost.

So, Japan now gets a Star. I'm good with that -- but I did want the US team to win.

Bibiana Steinhaus (photo gallery here) had a better game than Howard Webb did in the men's WC final.

True, but that's because both teams were there to try to win the cup fair and square, as opposed to the nightmare Webb faced in the men's WC final. He was stuck with two choices -- throw people out early, and be called the ref who handed the WC to the other side, ignore everything, in which case, Spain is left bleeding on the field -- at least, until they decided to start taking revenge, then the whole game falls apart -- or try his best to control with words and cautions.

Remember: Of those 14 yellow cards, there are only two that most disagree on, and one of those two was almost unanimously condemned for *not* being a red. It was an ugly game, yes, but the Dutch came in and explicitly played ugly. I don't know if throwing reds faster would have changed that, we'd just be arguing about how Webb handed the cup to Spain with a couple of early ejections.

Having said that, I think Stienhaus and her crew managed this game with grace and skill, and it really showed -- you could actually see players apologizing to her for fours. But the biggest different is both the US and Japan played a very clean game until the end, and even the one big foul was a professional foul, not a foul born of spite.

It's not often we give nod to good performance by officials, but you're absolutely right that this was a great job by the refs.
posted by eriko at 10:48 AM on July 18, 2011 [5 favorites]


TheGooch, my friends and I agree with you - finishing on penalty kick sucks. I'm nooby too, so I don't know what else has been tried. I'd think that 'golden goal' (sudden death) overtime would go over better.

I dislike penalty kick finishes so much that I suggested we leave the bar once overtime ended still tied. I couldn't get anyone else to go along with me. *sigh*. It's tough being the only man of principle.
posted by benito.strauss at 10:48 AM on July 18, 2011


Statistically this game goes down as a draw. Penalty kicks basically are a crude means to determine a team that wins a tournament (or advances in a knock-out) measure when 120 minutes of play have shown that the two side are equally good (or sometimes equally bad). Both the US and Japan played a great game and a great World Cup and are in many senses equally deserving but I suppose having them share the Cup would be even more unsatisfying than deciding it on a shootout. Still, Japan's ability to come back from behind really makes me think that they deserved the win. It was a great game all around, a great World's Cup and a sign that women's soccer has really come of age globally.
posted by Rarebit Fiend at 10:48 AM on July 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


I was sorta half-rooting for Japan throughout the tournament because I remembered seeing this goal from a Japanese striker last year. Then last week I went back and found it again and realized that the goal scorer isn't even on Japan's World Cup's team because the video is of the U-17 team and that Kumi Yokoyama was only 16 when she did that.
posted by mcmile at 10:48 AM on July 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


New rules:

Basketball games will be decided with a free-throw competition
Baseball games will be decided by home run derby
etc, etc,

but seriously, what other sport decides the outcome of a match by removing the teams from the field and reduces hours of competition to a statistical coin-flip?

As far as I am concerned, play until there is a winner, I don't care how long it takes.
posted by limited slip at 10:56 AM on July 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Re: racism and jingoism on Facebook - The phrases "Pearl Harbor" and "Japs" were trending on Twitter before the game was over.

Shudder to think what happened AFTER.
posted by HostBryan at 10:58 AM on July 18, 2011


New rules:

Basketball games will be decided with a free-throw competition
Baseball games will be decided by home run derby
etc, etc,

but seriously, what other sport decides the outcome of a match by removing the teams from the field and reduces hours of competition to a statistical coin-flip?

As far as I am concerned, play until there is a winner, I don't care how long it takes.


Unlimited subs then?
posted by josher71 at 10:59 AM on July 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


In defense of the penalty shootout.
posted by josher71 at 11:01 AM on July 18, 2011


Penalty kicks by the numbers.
posted by josher71 at 11:03 AM on July 18, 2011


Much like curling, Women's soccer is much more enjoyable to watch than Men's, and I don't mean in a 'Easier on the eyes, huh-huh,' sort of way, though I can't articulate why.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:04 AM on July 18, 2011


Unlimited subs then?

Yes, how about one sub during each extra-time halftime? Of course, you would eventually run out of eligible players. I'm fine with that.
posted by limited slip at 11:05 AM on July 18, 2011


(hockey.. sometimes)

Well PKs are a different skill, it's not just a coin flip and in tourney play a never ending game is going to be a major liability to the winning team (if it is not the last game). Also increases chances of injury damaged players.

PKs are definitely not as satisfying as regular play, (and that is why they are not scored as a win in regular play) but realistically given a game that can result in exhaustion long before a golden goal is scored I think it would turn into a farce quickly favoring the goalkeepers.
posted by edgeways at 11:05 AM on July 18, 2011 [4 favorites]


Much like curling, Women's soccer is much more enjoyable to watch than Men's, and I don't mean in a 'Easier on the eyes, huh-huh,' sort of way, though I can't articulate why.

I can tell you why I like it more, if nothing else:

During last night's game, one player collided with another. She came running in from the back and miscalculated or whatever, and her face smashed into the back of the other player's head.

Here is what happened next: She grabbed the side of her face, and made an "Ouch, that sucked" kind of expression, walking with her team the whole time.

Here is what did not happen next: She collapsed to the ground as if hit by oncoming traffic, making a face of unbridled anguish and clutching her knee until such time as she was certain the ref wasn't going to call it, and/or then arguing with the ref complete with exaggerated "it wasn't me" hands when called out on it.

I watched an entire game last night during which there was not a single thing I would call diving. I don't think the men's World Cup managed that for more than ten minutes.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 11:11 AM on July 18, 2011 [18 favorites]


Alvy- I can tell you why for me. Diving, and laying down pretending to be injured, is nearly non-existant. The field seems larger so there's more space. Perhaps that's due to the overall pace of the players compared to men. Also, there's more team- focused play and less one on one attacks.
posted by thekorruptor at 11:13 AM on July 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


I might be cynical, but I think it's only a matter of time before diving becomes a common thing in women's soccer. Luckily during this tournament, nobody really succeeded through simulation.
posted by kendrak at 11:14 AM on July 18, 2011


Also, there's more team- focused play and less one on one attacks.

Not sure what you mean by this? Can you expand?
posted by josher71 at 11:18 AM on July 18, 2011


I left my house to go meet an online dating person after Japan tied the score in extra time, and was walking through the East Village 20 minutes later peeking fervently in the windows of sports bars trying to figure out who'd won. I met up with my date who promptly informed me he hates watching women's sports because "Sorry it's so boring, they move so slow." WTFFFF. The rest of the date did indeed move very slowly.
posted by sweetkid at 11:18 AM on July 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Basketball games will be decided with a free-throw competition

That would be so great. Back and forth free throws at either end of the court. Maybe throw in one overtime just for "these teams are really tied" measure, and then a free throw competition. That would be great, because free throws are an important part of the game. It would really round things out. I would love an overtime basketball game decided by back-and-forth free throws.
posted by cashman at 11:22 AM on July 18, 2011


I met up with my date who promptly informed me he hates watching women's sports because "Sorry it's so boring, they move so slow." WTFFFF. The rest of the date did indeed move very slowly.

Dude wouldn't even see it when Alex Morgan dashed up and kicked him in the face, she moves so fast.
posted by hydropsyche at 11:22 AM on July 18, 2011 [7 favorites]


josher71- In men's, there is a much higher probability of one player trying to break to 2-3 defenders on a break. For me, this causes a less exciting game to watch. I've the same opinion on the difference between Pro and College Basketball (this is caused by the zone defense rules in Pro hoops). It's just visually more pleasing to see a string of passes together.
posted by thekorruptor at 11:27 AM on July 18, 2011


edit- 'trying to break down 2-3 defenders'
posted by thekorruptor at 11:29 AM on July 18, 2011


Basketball games will be decided with a free-throw competition

It feels like this already happens in close games at the end of regulation time, with a little bit of wasted "find the player with the ball and foul him" cheese time between free throws.
posted by Uncle Ira at 11:32 AM on July 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


[No one] ...collapsed to the ground as if hit by oncoming traffic... Diving, and laying down pretending to be injured, is nearly non-existant.

Yeah, the cleaner play* and absence of flopping (Basketball term I know, but applicable, I reckon) makes a huge difference in my enjoyment of the game. I was struggling with something like 'Less ego on the field,' but wasn't comfortable with making a gendery generalization like that, but maybe those factors are related.

*Though the Yanks seemed awful grabby yesterday, at least to my non-soccer trained eyes, and that Japanese player's move at the end of regular time was pretty crappy.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:33 AM on July 18, 2011


I think hoofball happens in both the men's and women's game. Playing a precise ball control style game like the Spanish Men's team or the Japanese Women's team seems to be relatively unusual despite the recent success of ball control offenses.

Perhaps there is less of the just let the fast striker run onto a long pass and make a quick shot/ corner in the women's game than the men but it seems that plenty of teams make it their bread and butter.

And honestly it works well at the lower levels of the game, because it seems like you can put your best player/runner at striker and you can beat defenders at least a couple of times per game. This type of ball seems to even have it's proponents at the club level but it seems at the World Cup of Champions League level the defenses are just too tough for hoofball to consistently work. That's where precise passing and the ability to maneuver the defense out of position seem to shine.
posted by vuron at 11:39 AM on July 18, 2011


Alvy, Iwashimizu's red card was pretty strategic. She had to go for it more or less. It's not my favourite strategy, but it's the sort of thing the laws of the game creates. She had to take the chance on the foul out of the box to shut down that goal scoring opportunity. Luckily for Japan, it paid off.
posted by kendrak at 11:42 AM on July 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh yeah, I got the strategy and the context, I just didn't like it. Those shoes are spikey, someone could've been hurt!
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:46 AM on July 18, 2011


I don't know, I think the fact that the United States has such a easily chantable name is pretty great.

For the fervently jingoistic, such as those on display in those comments, USA is probably the only thing they can spell with any confidence. Which, undoubtedly, is a source of much pride amongst their peers. The bombastically patriotic often seem too much like squidbillies for my comfort.
posted by umberto at 11:46 AM on July 18, 2011


As far as I am concerned, play until there is a winner, I don't care how long it takes.

The problem is that the game as currently run -- very limited substitution and almost no breaks -- means that play until you score just means that whomever falls down first from exhaustion or cramps loses. Hockey manages it, but hockey does Sudden Death (which I'm not a fan of) and has unlimited subs.

There's no good answer. Golden Goal was ugly, and actually led to more PKs, because nobody was willing to risk giving up the goal. You could add subs and keep playing extra periods, but even with one extra per period, soon, you're either out of good players, or your best players are still out there, but collapsing from exhaustion.

The closest I could see to a workable system -- and I'm not sure if it is workable -- would be after the first ET, you have your 11 players on the field available. If you have subs left, you can, at this time and this time only, use them (basically, they sub in at 120min.)

You then start playing 15 minute periods, 7 on 7, with the other 4 resting. After the 15 minutes, teams could swap in the four resting, but only at 15 minutes. Swap ends every period. After every third period, take a 15 minute break (basically, it's halftime again.)

Play until the score is uneven. If you needed an absolute stop, then maybe PKs after three or four shorthanded periods (so the total game would be 90+30+15+15+15+(15?), but with players able to rest in the last periods.

Total time, if four short periods, becomes the same as two total games. Indeed, looking at that, the obvious time for the "halftime" break is after the first 15 minute period (which, with the 30 minute ET, would be 45 minutes into extra time.)
posted by eriko at 11:56 AM on July 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Here is what did not happen next: She collapsed to the ground as if hit by oncoming traffic, making a face of unbridled anguish and clutching her knee until such time as she was certain the ref wasn't going to call it, and/or then arguing with the ref complete with exaggerated "it wasn't me" hands when called out on it.

You didn't see the USA-BRA game, did you? Quite possibly the worst dive in the history of the sport -- and in the end, it did Brazil no good and netted Erika a yellow.
posted by eriko at 11:59 AM on July 18, 2011


I hate penalty kicks. Why not have a sudden death after a certain point in extra time?
posted by zzazazz at 12:00 PM on July 18, 2011


Golden goals suck. PKs suck even more. Why no silver goal?
posted by Benny Andajetz at 12:09 PM on July 18, 2011


PKs are certainly not ideal, but with the nature of the game and especially a game between two high-level, evenly-matched opponents, golden goal is even more of a coin flip. The PKs are certainly not random either. Just look at this one. Japan had already seen the US shoot penalties recently. In fact I'd bet money the keeper drilled identical shots. So what did the US do? They either came out and took the same shot they did last time or tried to drill it in. Only Wambach and the Japanese players did what they needed to do, which is hit the goal. Even if the keeper guesses right, they usually won't be able to stop a well struck shot to the post. Japan didn't just happen to win, they beat the US badly at the shootout game.

I'm usually a fan of Rapinoe's, but she fucked up continually. How many times did she dribble into defenders' knees or send long balls to no one? I counted about a dozen blind clears, and didn't try to count how many times she handed the ball to her defender. Yeah, she had that beautiful assist, but she ruined the US midfield game. On top of that, as near as I can tell when she and Rampone got tangled up at the beginning of the second half in front of the US goal, Rapinoe was confused and trying to shoot on her own goal.

Which brings up the other major problem. No communication between defenders. Or, as I suspect, not enough direction from Solo. She needs to be screaming at her defenders constantly. They had no one to direct the action, and the confusion showed. Japanese players going unmarked, dribbling between two players who both assume the other will challenge for the ball. Whatever the specific failing, they were totally disorganized, which is a shame considering the physical talent they've got back there.

Wambach is amazing, though. I've been struggling to come up with another player, male or female, so consistently good in the air.
posted by cmoj at 12:19 PM on July 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


You then start playing 15 minute periods, 7 on 7, with the other 4 resting. After the 15 minutes, teams could swap in the four resting, but only at 15 minutes. Swap ends every period. After every third period, take a 15 minute break (basically, it's halftime again.)

Interesting idea, but 7 on 7 is a different game tactically. It'd be like Running a sprint to decide a tied marathon. Also, you'd do it that way in order to have fresh players, but having fewer players on that giant pitch would mean lots more running for the players on the field who have already been running for two hours.
posted by cmoj at 12:25 PM on July 18, 2011


If the Stanley Cup was ever decided by a shootout I don't think Gary Bettman would live to see another day.

I see some of the sides to the argument eriko is presenting but I still think sudden death extra time would be an effective solution. It much more closely resembles the game of soccer than a carnival mini-game to decide the outcome too.

If they're tired, so what? Win or lose the game faster. All of the athletes are in great shape and there is a lot of time to "rest" while they are on the field anyway.
Opening the teams up to make unlimited substitutions after one or two extra times sounds like a good idea though.
posted by zephyr_words at 12:32 PM on July 18, 2011


It is fantastic how far the women's game has improved since the first world cup in 1991. The quality of the teams is much, much more even. (The early tournaments were dominated by China, Norway, and the USA. Norway and China didn't even qualify this year.) Japan had to beat very strong German and Swedish teams in order to get to the finals; the USA had to beat a very strong Brazilian team and a surprisingly strong French team.

As someone on an NHK Japan site said, this was a game where you wanted both teams to win. They were both sentimental favorites for different reasons. It was a fine game.

Overall in the tournament, refereeing was extremely uneven. It's clear that the female Western European and North American referees are far ahead of the rest of the world in experience, especially at this top level. The Hungarian referee missed a blatant, blatant handball in the Australia/Equitorial Guinea match. Many other matches were poorly called, due to inexperience.

Unfortunately, there is no substitute for experience. We just have to try to ensure that women referees get the same chances at major matches as the men currently do. There are women referees in third and four division men's leagues, which doesn't really prepare them for the pressure of the world cup.

Still in all, a great tournament of generally very entertaining football. Congratulations to Japan.
posted by blob at 1:04 PM on July 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


And can't the US come up with anything beyond chanting U-S-A! U-S-A!? Now is the time for a simple song to replace that idiotic chant.

I'd like to take this moment to nominate "America - Fuck Yeah!" as that simple song.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:05 PM on July 18, 2011


I love penalty kicks. After 90 minutes of game play and 30 in overtime, I'm wiped out as a viewer and want the sudden finish. The gameplay seems to tire out in overtime, losing its thrill. But when they move into the shootout it raises the level again and puts the focus on another skill set. That's exciting!
posted by cazoo at 1:46 PM on July 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


International ice hockey uses a shootout after overtime to decided tied games, even in the medal rounds. I very much agreed with someone who said that winning one of those has all the excitement of pulling on a wet bathing suit.

The NHL uses shootouts after a brief overtime in the regular season, and then sudden death overtime exclusively during the playoffs. I remember seeing games go 3 or 4 overtimes before being settled, and then it was usually on some horrible goal that was the result of exhausted players, rotten ice conditions, and a strange bounce or two...but I'd still take that over a shootout for a game of importance. I'd be interested to see them try a fixed length of time in overtime, to avoid the sudden death aspect, but I think it has become part of the game now, for good or ill.

I'm not sure there's any good (read: something that would satisfy everyone) way to settle games like soccer and hockey that remain tied past their set length. What we have provides us fans with lots to argue about, and maybe that's the point.
posted by never used baby shoes at 1:56 PM on July 18, 2011


I quite enjoyed the World Cup, and am very happy to see Japan win (if it couldn't be the U.S.). I found the women's matches so good because it seemed there were many more scoring opportunities than one sees in comparable men's matches. But I generally don't watch a lot of soccer beyond the World Cup...
posted by AJaffe at 2:11 PM on July 18, 2011


I was disappointed in the USA team's loss, of course, but I didn't think the officiating was bad at all, and Japan beat us fair and square. Their penalty kicks were just better, period. My husband (former soccer player and coach) said that if it came down to pk's, they were going to beat us, because the Japanese drill like crazy on those things. But I held out hope (heh) for Solo stopping them from getting through.

The suspense was amazing in that game--my son's on the high school soccer team, plays FIFA with his teammates and was texting them throughout. One of them threw his phone at the wall when Japan tied us in overtime, and by the time the penalty kicks ended his texts had become unintelligible.

We'd pull ahead, they'd tie, we pulled ahead again and thought we had it and then they tied it up once more. Then they're ahead in penalty kicks (our players honestly do need to drill a LOT more, those kicks were disgraceful!). But wait, we might have a chance to tie it up ourselves!

Denied. Sad face.

I'm happy for Japan, though. I do like an underdog. And they played well. Our women were aggressive and tenacious, but out passing is often sloppy and our ball handling needs work.

And I feel bad for Hope Solo, who I think is the best goalkeeper in women's soccer right now. She's been through a lot just because she speaks her mind, and for women sports are not exactly lucrative in this country. I searched and failed to find what her salary is, but it's common knowledge* that the USA women make nowhere near as much as the male soccer players (who also make nowhere near as much as our American football players, except for Beckham).

Winning the game would have meant sponsorships for Solo, and possibly young Morgan and Abby Wambach as well, and their increased visibility might have helped interest more Americans in the sport.

BTW, anyone see the LA Galaxy play that exhibition match against Real Madrid? Christian Ronaldo is a joy to watch. Just amazing. He ran that ball around LA's defenders like they were standing still. And old man Beckham is SO overpaid it's disgusting.

*It is known.

Now all I have to watch is the Tour de France, and it's a rest day.

Back to reading A Dance with Dragons!

posted by misha at 2:21 PM on July 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


It was a game the US could have won, and should have. The professional foul at the end by Japan was ugly, and I'm starting to think that a red card isn't enough when there's very little time left in a game "Hmm, they'll throw me out of the group stage of some tournament in the future, but I'll a chance at the WC...."

It was brilliantly strategic, given the way red cards work, but it certainly sucked for us. I would like to see red cards, in a final championship game like this, count against the team that made them somehow if the game keeps going. Like that counts as a missed penalty kick or something (but that won't happen).
posted by misha at 2:27 PM on July 18, 2011


I still think sudden death extra time would be an effective solution.
I think it's cute the way all the newfangled football fans think they've found the holy grail. We tried golden goal and silver goal in the nineties and it led to more penalty kick decisions, not fewer. Predictably, when you lose the match by giving up a goal, both teams tend to go on the defensive and just pass the ball around on their own half.

(Much like Spain does still, except they then score a goal once in a while. Booooooring!)
posted by brokkr at 2:33 PM on July 18, 2011 [5 favorites]


Interesting idea, but 7 on 7 is a different game tactically

Yeah. Ideally, it would be 7 on 7 on a smaller pitch -- but that's harder to implement, because you need to relay the lines and move the goals. It *might* be practical to move the sidelines in -- either have them premarked in a different color, or I suspect, with the right gear, they could chalk new sidelines in quickly. The question, then, is do you shrink the penalty area?

Not that anything like this is going to happen. PKs after ET are much like The Chicago Cabal's (TINCC) choice of meetup locations. Everyone thinks it's much less than ideal, but any other answer is worse for some, so we stick with it.

I think it's cute the way all the newfangled football fans think they've found the holy grail.

Indeed. This isn't as if FIFA had never tried it, it was used from 1992 to 2002, and a variant (Silver Goal) until 2004. It simply didn't work the way everyone thought it would -- teams simply didn't risk an attack, because that would open up their defense, and all it took was one mistake to lose the game. So, *less* games were decided by play, not more. That's why they dropped it.

I would like to see red cards, in a final championship game like this, count against the team that made them

I've always advocated that a red card in the last 10 minutes of an elimination game should award a PK to the other team if no foul or a foul out of the box, and an awarded goal if a red card foul occurs in the box.

Hand of God? Thank you for the goal. Takedown just outside the box? Thank you for the scoring opportunity.

The best way to eliminate professional fouls is to make sure they do not in any way reward the team that commits them. Generally, a red card does fix that, except when you're late in the eliminations rounds. By the rules, the exact correct thing for that Japanese midfielder to do was to take the US striker down -- a red card was cheap compared to a cup-losing goal.

In season play, where that red card affects the team in later games, it's more effective to control professional fouls, but in elimination stages, where the question becomes "foul or go home...", they'll foul if they're thinking.

American Football has a rule that if "grossly unfair play" occurs, the play is considered to have ended in a score (thus, 6 points + PAT for most plays, but 3 points if the foul occurred on a field goal attempt.) This came about from an incident where a player came off the bench and tackled a runner who was clear of everyone else and sure to score. Nobody does that now, because not only will you be ejected, and fined, and probably suspended (all of which would be worth it if you win a Super Bowl ring because of it) but you also turn the play into an automatic score, which means you are ejected, fined, probably suspended, and lose anyway.

Football sort of has it with DOGSO, but DOGSO trades an obvious goal for a PK and an ejected defender. In the last 10 minutes of a cup final, that's the obvious trade to make.
posted by eriko at 3:10 PM on July 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Why did they quit doing the run-up shootouts? Those were a lot more fun.
posted by cmoj at 4:08 PM on July 18, 2011


I first became really aware that soccer could be fun while living here in Japan, so I figure they're my hometown team, in a way, and I usually cheer for Japan in WC events, so I guess I'm kind of happy for them.

On the other hand, just like when Japan won the softball gold medal, I can already see that this will not go away for at least 6 months. It will be on the news for weeks. Players will be on tv for months. Any chance there is to bring it up, it'll be trotted out, again, and again, and again. Had they lost, there would be no mention of them past this week. Instead, I would honestly not be surprised if in the 'year in review' shows around New Year's end up spending more time on this than on the earthquake...
posted by Ghidorah at 6:45 PM on July 18, 2011


Watching the game, I felt like Japan was able to keep the US on their toes and rushed whenever they were going to take a shot at goal. They kept them from having that extra heartbeat to settle themselves and get focused on the shot. A time that was more polished wouldn't have been as phased but the Japan defense and ball handling skills, but considering they took down Sweden and Germany, Japan beating the US was not that much of an upset (they weren't even expected to get past the quarterfinals).

In a way, the US team felt like it was just constant brute force that let them get through, that, and Abby Wambach's forehead (which needs it's own golden headband). I hope she stays for another world cup, and I hope that in four years, they have more polish to their raw endurance. I'd love to see what they can do again. I know I am going to be watching.
posted by mrzarquon at 9:05 PM on July 18, 2011


> You didn't see the USA-BRA game, did you? Quite possibly the worst dive in the history of the sport -- and in the end, it did Brazil no good and netted Erika a yellow.

Not only a yellow, but easily the extra minute or two of ET as a result, in which Wambach scored the tieing goal.

Also complaints against the ref in the USA-BRA game were entirely justified in my mind. Major calls against the US, almost none against Brazil, including the offsides goal that gave them the 2-1 lead in ET (it would not have been as bit a problem unless the US wasn't called for the exact same offsides a few seconds earlier at the other end of the field).
posted by mrzarquon at 9:15 PM on July 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


To back up something that Famous Monster said upthread, there was a boingboing post about a study in Research in Sports Medicine that showed that women soccer player fake injury about half as much as men do. I would have guessed the disparity was even greater than that, based on the games I've seen. Hopefully, women's soccer stays honest, because it's much cooler to watch, if this World Cup match was any indication.

I saw Ronaldo embarrassing the LA Galaxy's defenders on Sports Center as Misha mentioned, and I wouldn't mind seeing that in a game from time to time, but there's no way I'm sitting through a bunch of dudes flopping around on the ground repeatedly to witness it--it's undignified and embarrassing. Even being born and raised in a soccer-obsessed country like Italy isn't enough to make me suffer through that nonsense more than once every four years.

But I've got some time to watch athletes like Abby Wambach do her thing. Seeing her play is just cool as hell, and her not coming out of the World Cup a champion is the one real disappointment of the match for me.
posted by millions at 10:21 PM on July 18, 2011


Not only a yellow, but easily the extra minute or two of ET as a result, in which Wambach scored the tieing goal.

Yes! It's rare that justice prevails, but in this cases, Erika's fakery -- and it was *good* acting, I thought she'd caught a concussion judging by the stagger-and-fall -- quite literally cost Brazil the game by giving the US the 90 seconds of injury time they needed to score the tying goal.

Otherwise, the ref was insane. There is no way that hit was a red card. I'm willing to forgive close offsides calls, because you need to spot the ball as it's played *and* the player at the same time, and just the time it takes to move your eyes is enough to miss that. But some of those weren't close calls.

The assistant in the final gave offsides to Japan when they weren't -- when the ball was played forward, she was onside, but by the time the assistant saw the ball played and turned to check the player, she'd broken clear of the defenders and the flag went up.

I don't see a way to fix this with technology, unless you can have a realtime line that tracks the most-forward player, track the ball, and have a system of lights or something to alert the field that the play was offsides, but if we're going to fix referring with tech, first we need goal cameras.
posted by eriko at 2:15 AM on July 19, 2011


but there's no way I'm sitting through a bunch of dudes flopping around on the ground repeatedly to witness it
Perhaps Italian soccer has more diving? I mostly watch the Premiership and I don't see nearly that much.

Also, the way that people often talk about dives gives the impression that this is happening every few minutes or so. That's not the case.
posted by josher71 at 7:11 AM on July 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


I saw Ronaldo embarrassing the LA Galaxy's defenders on Sports Center as Misha mentioned, and I wouldn't mind seeing that in a game from time to time, but there's no way I'm sitting through a bunch of dudes flopping around on the ground repeatedly to witness it--it's undignified and embarrassing.

Funny thing is, Cristiano Ronaldo is one of the most notorious divers out there.
posted by kmz at 9:19 AM on July 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


I hate blaming the middle referee for bad offside decisions. They're almost always given by the linespeople, and the linespeople are virtually never overruled.

Also, eriko, what hit are you referring to that shouldn't have been a red card? Both of the red cards in the US matches were DOGSO, not violent conduct.
posted by Errant at 10:34 AM on July 19, 2011


They werent DOGSO - one wasn't a foul, it was a fair challenge, and DOGSO requires a foul, and the other was in no way an obvious goal scoring opportunity - it was a break, but the goalkeeper was still in play and position.

DOGSO requires a foul that, if the foul did not occur, would have "obviously" resulted in a goal, but no goal was scored. If the play is fair, no. If there is any other defender who could stop the play, no. If a goal is scored, no.

The last comes up here. Shot on goal, the GK out of position, and a defender handballs a shot away. Seeing this, and realizing what they did, the defender then kicks the ball into the goal?

Result? *Not* DOGSO, no red card -- yellow for the intentional handball, but a goal scored, thus, no red for DOGSO.
posted by eriko at 5:33 PM on July 19, 2011


Being through with the keeper to beat is still considered an obvious goal-scoring opportunity; if an open net were required it would never come up. If there's a covering non-goalkeeper defender who has a clear line of attack on the ball, that may mitigate it. So does direction and motion of the attacker and whether the attacker has the ball firmly under control, but there's no "last man" rule and the presence of a defender who may intercept does not, by itself, alter the offense, although it's something referees are advised by FIFA to consider when making a decision.

In fact, whether or not a goal is scored is not always a defense. Last year during the Sounders-Celtic friendly in Seattle, Samaras broke through on goal with only Sounders keeper Boss to beat. Boss took him down in the area as defender Parke was rushing back to cover the line. Samaras managed to recover from the challenge, find the loose ball, and poke it past Parke, but the referee whistled for a foul, penalty, and sent Boss off. His view was apparently that Samaras' recovery constituted a different phase of play and he was not inclined to give advantage. I don't think that's great refereeing, but by the letter of the law he wasn't technically incorrect.

I don't think Buehler's challenge on Marta was a foul at all, but once it got called, she had to go. The same is more obviously true for the Japanese defender at the end of extra time, except that that was a clear tactical foul with Morgan breaking through the line. But yeah, rightly or wrongly, they were both sendings-off for DOGSO.
posted by Errant at 6:18 PM on July 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


I know I'm a little late to the party, but I thought this last Women's World Cup was fantastic. The soccer was top-notch, the drama was intense, and the diving and theatrics were kept to a minimum (except for when Brazil is involved).
Here's a good article with some data that shows that female players truly do dive a lot less than the men:
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/12/sports/soccer/at-the-womens-world-cup-drama-without-all-the-dramatics.html?_r=2&scp=1&sq=diving+soccer&st=cse

Even though I'm American and a soccer player, I was happy for Japan and they deserved to win. It's also nice that soccer is becoming more of a global sport. Outside the USA, it is a traditionally a men's only game, so it's great to see other countries starting to field strong teams- hopefully it will mean an increase for youth programs for girls around the world. I've played soccer on women's teams in Nicaragua and Australia and the opportunities for girls to learn the sport are paltry compared with in the US.
posted by emd3737 at 2:56 PM on July 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


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