Dear US Women’s National Team Supporters,
I must say if there’s one thing you American’s love it’s a bit of drama. Trust me, I live above you, you’re a very dramatic people. That said, you do offer a wide variety of discounted gasoline and alcohol; so much like a house cat I tolerate your dramatics. Those dramatics were very prevalent this weekend when the groupings for next summers World Cup were announced and the hashtag #OMGUSWNTinGroupOfDeathBlameFIFA (note: not a legitimate hashtag, although please feel free to blame FIFA for actual issues like bribery and corruption!) started making the rounds on the twitterverse. So I wanted to take a brief respite from my usual ramblings about boots to address your furor from a
neutral Canadian standpoint, and to explain to you that contrary to what you’ve been told, or what you believe, you aren’t in the Group of Death for next summers tournament.
In the interest of full disclosure I should point out that there is no team on the planet, not Sheffield Wednesday, not Leeds United, not West Ham United (I’m a die hard Sheffield United supporter and these clubs are toxic to me), which causes me vexation in the way that the United States Women’s National Team does. There’s something about a team which is really really good, but seems to need to remind everyone ALL THE TIME just how good they are, which really rankles with me. Also I’m not a big fan of teams which beat up on vastly inferior teams and celebrate pretty much every goal as though it’s an extra-time winner in a World Cup Final! To quote the great Jackie McQuillan “You’ve got to be cool, scoring a goal should be as natural as having your breakfast”
So disclosure aside, back to the topic at hand which again is #OMGUSWNTinGroupofDeathBlameFIFA. Here’s why you aren’t in as much peril as you’ve been led to believe.
1. Your team is really good
You’re the current Olympic Champions, runners up at the most recent World Cup, and currently if not somewhat contentiously ranked as the world’s number one team according to FIFA. If you consider the game at the international level there are only two countries which can consistently run the US Women’s Team to the limit, those countries being Germany and Japan. You’ve avoided being grouped with either of them due to the fact that you’re ranked 1,2,3 respectively. You’re in a group which doesn’t contain your two biggest threats! It can’t be all that bad.
2. You have Christen Press and she plays OFF YOUR BENCH!
If I had to choose a favourite player on the US Team, it’d be Christen Press. She’s an extraordinarily talented player, but she’s also not cut of the same cloth as many of the US players, she seemingly doesn’t live and breathe the Ricky Bobby mantra of “If you ain’t first, you’re last” that the rest of the team do. Also unlike many of the current crop of US players, Press made her name in Europe playing in Sweden and also playing against the top clubs in Europe in the Champions League. She even kept a brilliant blog of her time playing overseas which I highly recommend reading. She took a road which would seem foreign to some teammates when it came gaining a spot on the national team. Instead of staying at home and having everyone and their dog rave about her talents, she quietly went out and played against some of the toughest opposition in the world and pretty much dominated. In 66 total matches split evenly between Göteborg FC and Tyresö Fotbollsförening she scored 68 goals and was a Champions League Finalist.
Playing for most any other country she would probably be the first name on the team sheet, meanwhile for the US team, she often is left coming off the bench when serial flopper Abby “I can count to six” Wambach has done her sixty minute gesturing exercises. In 32 appearances (17 starts) with the National Team, Press has scored 15 goals. I shudder to think what a US front trio of Press, Alex Morgan (possibly the best player in the world), and former Canadian Sydney LeRoux could accomplish on the world stage if they all played together.
3. The group you’re in
When you get to a World Cup it can be said often, that there are “no easy games”. However, you’re playing against 3 teams with a combined all time record of 6 wins, 4 draws, and 46 losses against you. That doesn’t exactly inspire thoughts of death defying peril in my head and it shouldn’t in yours! I mean have a look at how many of the teams in your group have actually beaten you, it’s only one of them, so don’t worry so much! A more accurate name for the group would be the “Group of we’re going to batter Australia and Nigeria, and we’ll probably beat Sewden 3-1”, but that’s a mouthful and doesn’t sound nearly as dramatic as “Group of Death”, and I like I said in the off, you folks really are a dramatic people.
While I’d love nothing more (okay I’d love Canada to win the whole tournament next year more) than witnessing your country’s national team having an epic collapse and leaving the tournament in the group stages, I don’t think there’s a chance of that happening on this or any planet. So please, please, calm down, have a cup of tea and look if you’re having visions of a Group of Death look at Group F!
Hope you’re doing okay, your pal
Do you think that the US has been drawn in the “Group of Death”? If so drop me a line below, you can also drop me a line if you don’t like the fact that I don’t like your team, should you so feel inclined!