Friday, July 17, 2015

2015 Women's World Cup Review

Its been over a week now since the end of the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup, and we've seen the 3-Time Champion USA get a ticker tape parade in New York City down the "Canyon of Heroes" and an ESPY Award for Best Team. The parade was a fun celebration that I was glad to have attended, and a moment I won't forget. I'm also now 3-0 in World Cup predictions, picking Japan over USA in the 2011 Women's World Cup, Germany in the 2014 Men's World Cup (wrongly over Belgium though) and USA over Japan in the 2015 Women's World Cup.

Turf controversy aside, the 2015 Women's World Cup in Canada will be regarded as another turning point in the development of Women's Soccer/Football. The expansion to 24 teams came at the perfect time. I'd even argue you could have 32 teams if done correctly - I could name some who can easily compete. Europe has a bunch that would be worthy such as Italy, Iceland, Denmark, Scotland, Belgium, & Finland. The UEFA Euro is being expanded which should help further. Asia has North Korea back from a ban, and Vietnam could possibly grow with competition. Ghana, South Africa & Equatorial Guinea have talent in Africa. Trinidad & Tobago had a solid qualifying for CONCACAF, barely missing out and showing vast improvement. Jamaica have been working hard as well. CONMEBOL/South America is the Confederation that needs the most improvement, though Chile & Argentina could use a boost of appearing in a World Cup.

Cameroon and Colombia surprised by appearing in the knockout stage for the first time and showing they belong. China made it back to the Quarterfinals with a stingy defense, and will look to improve in their attack ahead of 2019. Australia and England both proved they were ready to take the leap and be considered as contenders. Especially England, who finished 3rd as the highest ranking European team, beat Germany for the first time, and captured the hearts of fans both in England and around the world with their determination and fight.

One thing we always remember are some of the outstanding goals of the tournament, such as James Rodriguez' wonder strike for Colombia at the 2014 World Cup. These were my five favorite of the 2015 Women's World Cup:

1. Carli Lloyd, USA vs. Japan. Well, she scored a hat trick. The best though was of course her blast from almost midfield. She juked her opponent, saw the goalie was up off her line, and blasted the sky high shot. Goalie Kaihori just could not get back in time, trying to track the ball and then getting it with the tip of her fingers, but it was too late.

2. Mizuho Sakaguchi, Japan vs. Netherlands. This goal was just a thing of beauty, showcasing why Japan is one of the most technical teams in the world, with multiple players getting involved before Sakaguchi buried it. The dummy by Iwabuchi fooled plenty. It was without a doubt the most creative goal.

3. Lucy Bronze, England vs. Norway. After tying the game, England kept pressing. They got the ball into the box drawing Norwegian defenders, but instead passed back out to a charging Bronze who blasted it up into the corner of the net.

4. Daniela Montoya, Colombia vs. Mexico. Montoya was outside the box but she sensed an opening, even pointing to the spot in front of her. When her teammate passed back to her she geared up, and blasted a ball that just seemed to keep gaining steam as it went to the back of the net.

5. Lisa De Vanna, Australia vs. USA. The US defense was stout all tournament, but Australia were able to break through with a wonderful team goal. Passing through multiple defenders to Michelle Heyman, she then taps the ball to an open De Vanna who expertly nails it right into the corner with her left foot.

The 2019 Women's World Cup will be held in France and will surely continue to build on the success. You can currently follow the NWSL (National Women's Soccer League) for your fix until the Rio 2016 Olympics. Do yourself a favor and watch a Portland Thorns FC home game to see what an energized and raucous crowd looks like.
France 2019 Women's World Cup bid logo. Will not be the final design.

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