Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Pia, Pia, Piapiapia!

The Pia Sundhage hire provided a glimmer of hope in the long, sad denouement of the US women's national team's World Cup. Reports from the current mini-camp in Carson are encouraging.
Sundhage preaches a European-style "total football" approach, where Greg Ryan, her predecessor as U.S. coach, emphasized defense first... Finesse and tactical awareness will replace brute strength and strategic naivete.

I have seen soccer dads with more tactical awareness than Ryan showed in the Cup. And having the defenders, midfielders, and forwards practice separately from each other? Wow. Very America, circa 1976. Had he survived as coach, I'm certain the vintage 3-3-4 would have made an appearance. If you played as a kid in the late '70s anywhere east of the Mississippi, you have a frame of reference for the regrettable "left inside forward." C'mon, you can cop to it--that was a long time ago, and it really wasn't your fault. Try explaining it to your kids, though, and watch them fall down laughing. Anyway, where were we? Oh yeah.

"The World Cup exploited our weaknesses," said Kate Markgraf, who played for Sundhage in Boston. "Brazil tore us apart."

"We were just trying to do the best we could, but we didn't know how to solve defenses and formations other teams were throwing at us," Wambach said.

Ya think? Well, if the first step is recognizing the problems that exist, I'd say they're on their way. Now that the College Cup is over on the women's side, I'm very interested to see what collegiate players might show up to be evaluated prior to the Algarve Cup in March.

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