By Matthew Hamill
Abbey Wambach, Megan Rapinoe, and Hope Solo have all guided the U.S. to the top of Group D, and into the World Cup Finals.
Granted 16 of the 24 teams that make it to the group stage qualify for the knockout round, making a group victory all the more valuable.
This first place finish means the United States will play Columbia, a third place team from Group F, on Monday June 22nd.
Most group winners drew third place teams, however the seeding isn’t perfect. From an objective standpoint, Brazil deserves the better seeding based on goal differential and winning record. Yet, however, it is hard to argue the strength of Group D, which was dubbed the Women’s World Cup group of death.
It will be interesting to see how Sweden fares against mighty Germany. The Germans have had no problems scoring goals on the artificial turf, netting 15 goals in three group games. Germany could be the country that stands between the United States and back-to-back World Cup Finals appearances.
Meanwhile, the United States has only managed to find the net four times in three games.
Abbey Wambach is the team’s primary scoring threat, however the striker looks tired. So much so that Alex Morgan made her first start of the group stage against Nigeria. Morgan added excitement and pace to the United States attack. Her speed threatened slow defenders, and provided openings for her teammates to attack the wings.
The U.S. Women’s team looks most threatening when Megan Rapinoe is attacking the wing with Abbey Wambach and Alex Morgan threatening the middle.
The United State’s only conceded one goal during the group stage. However, against Nigeria, they allowed access into the U.S. box far too easily. Unfortunately Nigeria just could not get a shot off, whereas the Germans will.
With the group stage over, the World Cup shifts to the exciting knockout round. If the U.S. can take care of Columbia they will face the winner of China vs. Cameroon. If the U.S. reaches the Semi-finals they will face Sweden, France, South Korea, or Germany.
Winning the group stage has gotten the United States off to a great start. While the scheduling gods have favored them with a path to the Semi’s.
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