Peppers at 10, which seems low.
Better late than never, I hope. (If I were Data, it wouldn't take so long to watch the games and pick out some highlights, and then I'd have more time for a thoughtful post. Also, I wouldn't need to eat dinner and could replicate some new clothes rather than doing laundry.)
Japan 2, New Zealand 1
6' - Early goal by Japan. Lazy pass by NZ midfielder attempting to send it back to the LB was picked off at midfield by Shinobu Ohno, who was not that far away. so the pass should have been crisper. Ohno dribbles forward and chips it over the back line to Yuki Nagasato, zipping past the NZ defense. The goalie comes out, but just outside the box is too far to get to, and Nagasato hits it on the half volley over the goalie and into the far corner.
12' - NZ goal. Long ball from just over the center line sent deep into the right corner. Ria Percival gets to it before it goes out and sends a long cross to the far post. It's over the goalie, who's only 5'4", and Amber Hearn, 5'9" and unmarked, heads it in for the equalizer.
18' - So close! After the Nadeshiko string together 8 passes to work it up the field from their end (right to left and back to the right), Yuraki Kinga crosses it from the right side into the box, where an unmarked Mizuho Sakaguchi redirects it at the 6, but it hits the left post. Homare Sawa gets the rebound and takes a shot from 12 yds, but it's right at the goalie.
38' - Japan corner goes deep to the far side of the box, 12 yds out, headed back to the near post. Nagasato's header misses the frame and goes past the far post.
68' - Aya Miyama bends a free kick over the wall and into the top right corner from 19 yds. Super sub Mana Iwabuchi had taken the ball all the way from the center line to just outside the box, where she split two defenders and was taken down.
Japan was generally very precise in their passing. They had just over 60% possession for the game (which was down from almost 70% at one point in the first half, if the announcer was correct). But while their setup was good, the finish wasn't. They probably should have gotten another goal. But keep winning (or win and tie), and goal differential won't matter.
NZ was sending long balls that were mostly far too long. The Football Ferns wilted a bit in Bochum's mid-80's heat (it's winter back home). In the second half they had a number of players that were stretching due to impending cramps, and there was still 30' left. Their goal was the only shot on goal they had.
England 1, Mexico 1
21' - England drew first blood off a corner. Fara Williams heads an arching shot from 12 yds out into the upper net.
33' - Mexico's Monica Ocampo is at midfield, dribbles to her right a bit and cracks a shot from 36 yds (!) out. It drops and curves into the upper left corner, past the outstretched fingertips of the goalie, Karen Bardsley. You might say that she should have had it, as she shuffled to her right a bit slowly, but perhaps she was fooled by the late movement of the new Speedcell ball. At halftime Hope Solo said that long shots have more movement. In training she was diving to her left to make a save, and the ball curved back to her right.
49' - England hand ball outside the box. Maribel Dominguez shoots from 22 yds, just wide left.
59' - Long ball from Kelly Smith over the Mexican D. One leaps up, but the ball grazed her head and drops in for Eniola Aluko at the right side of the box. She shoots near post, but it's a fairly weak shot which Santiago dives and grabs without trouble.
66' - Kelly Smith is just inside the box on the right, centers a beautiful pass for Aluko, who can't get around the ball, and it goes wide left.
89' - Free kick 24 yds out, Ocampo bends one over the wall, just over the crossbar.
Neither team looked very organized at the beginning, with many errant passes going to the other team. Time of possession ended up 51 to 49% in favor of Mexico. Though England had more shots (15) and more on goal (5) than Mexico (10 and 2), I don't feel they really challenged 16-yr old G Cecilia Santiago. I was surprised England didn't sub for F Eniola Aluko, who was looking gassed. Wolfsburg temperature was in the low 90's.
Thoughts on Group B
I'm thinking Japan can win this group (and winning is huge to avoid Germany in the quarters). Mexico is up next and needs a result. I'd be surprised if they won, as Japan looked sharper. If we assume Japan will be first, the other team to make it through might need that goal differential (beat NZ badly and keep it close against Japan).
Thoughts on Group A
I expect Germany to win all 3 and figure them to pad their goal differential against Nigeria. Canada did well to only lose by a goal, but the next game against France is pivotal. France has the motivation to win now, as two wins puts them through, and the last game against Germany doesn't mean anything. Canada needs a result to have life. I don't know that they'll get two wins, but a win and a tie and a German blitzkrieg of France could put them through.
Group C Tuesday
Early game: Columbia vs Sweden. Then at 12:15 EDT it's USA (USA! USA!!) vs N Korea. Both on ESPN and ESPN3. Go Red White & Blue!
Anybody care to explain how players of Peralta and Avila's caliber are hitting 7th and 8th respectively? I like to think I know quite a bit about baseball, but I'd love to hear the argument as to why these two players aren't near the top of the lineup. Peralta should be hitting 2nd and Avila should be hitting 6th, no questions asked. Instead, on a nightly basis they are near the bottom of the lineup, left on base after another set of outs by our friends Inge, Raburn and Jackson.
Instead, we're left with guys like Dirks and Kelly at the top of our lineup every night. Same goes for Jackson....there's no reason he should be leading off with such a high strikeout rate, especially when Leyland fails to properly utilize his speed (yes, he stole a base tonight, but 13 steals don't outweigh 91 Ks and a .311 OBP).
I just can't figure this out. For a first place team, they could be so much better. It's frustrating to think that their inconsistency has kept Chicago and Minnesota (somehow) in the AL Central race when Detroit has easily the best all around team of the three.
Reported on ESPN. Deal is for 5 years/$23M. Sucks for any Wings fans on the board. Weber is probably staying as it is and now the second best option is off the board.
I just pulled the trigger on a Michigan #41 home MESKO jersey. I'm excited to wear this jersey as a Michigan fan, as a Patriots fan, and as a citizen of the space empire that Zoltan rules over so benevolently.
I thought I'd put this on the front page one more time.
We are winning pretty comfortably against Clemson 58 - 42 percent. 67,657 votes have been cast in our match up; more than any of the other Tradition Quarterfinals.
Someone in an earlier post suggested we might want to help Georgia out against ND. Notre Dame is a one seed and it's currently a dead heat between them and Georgia.
So after you go vote for Michigan, click on Georgia too.
Voting ends Tuesday!
Women's World Cup 2011 is about to begin. France and Nigeria are playing in the first game on ESPN2 (9 EDT). Germany and Canada will be on at noon on ESPN.