Ajax America Women Coach Brian Boswell returns to provide 100 Percent Soccer with a match analysis of the U.S.-Brazil semifinal:
The U.S. have been preparing for this game since the end of the 2003 World Cup, whereas the Brazilian team disbanded that year and did not come together until early 2007 for the Pan American Games.
The U.S. is fresh off of a 3-0 victory over a good English side, despite starting slowly and allowing England to play at a comfortable pace, ceding most of the possession.
Upping the tempo of the game in the second half, the U.S. put the English on the back foot and scored three goals in 15 minutes. They played better possession soccer and looked like a team capable of winning the World Cup, with good goals from key players Abby Wambach, Shannon Boxx and Kristine Lilly.
Brazil beat a plucky, hard-working Australian team 3-2. Although out-shooting Australia 20-4 and leading 2-0, they found it very difficult to put the Aussies away.
The U.S. is getting better with every game.
It played the England game with Shannon Boxx and Leslie Osborne as the central midfielders. Although both have been used primarily as holding midfield players, they played well together. Boxxy was able to go forward more often and this resulted in a great left-footed goal. The U.S. played the ball wider than they have in previous games and cut out a lot of the Route 1 long balls, which allowed the midfield to support Abby Wambach and Kristine Lilly up front. This put a lot more pressure on the England defense.
Expect to see this on Thursday.
The U.S. will try to dictate the pace against Brazil, speed it up and put the Brazilians on their heels. Look for the U.S. to be dangerous on set pieces; the U.S. is the best womens team in the air and Brazil does not mark well from set pieces.
The U.S. will play more down the lines to try to get around the back of Brazil and use Abbys prowess in the air with Lilly, Lori Chalupny and Heather OReilly picking up the knock downs and Boxxy coming through.
When defending the U.S. must pressure the ball quickly as Brazil has great individual talent and loves to shoot from outside the penalty area.
The Brazilians are the most entertaining of the womens teams.
Good team work and great individual skill make them fun to watch, plus they have in Marta the No. 1 player in the world.
They play like their mens team.
They beat Australia 3-2 after dominating the first 30 minutes and leading 2-0. Australia didnt quit, were able to narrow the field and congest the midfield and claw two goals back, which shows the Brazilian defense is not at the same standard as its attack.
When Brazil are allowed to play they attack quickly, push their outside backs up and into your penalty area. They will then shoot from anywhere looking for goals, deflections, balls knocked down, anything that gives them a chance of scoring. They play well as a team, but rely on individual skill to win games.
Brazil play a 4-4-2 with forwards Marta and Christiane and attacking midfielders Formiga and Daniella interchanging positions, making them very difficult to mark. Marta is very dangerous from free kicks in scoring positions.
They are not as well organized when defending, which comes from lack of preparation time as a team. Defending is more about organization than individual ability and they’ve missed some of the finer points. Vulnerable at set pieces, Brazil has had the easier games to the semifinal, so the defense has not been tested in the way it will be against the U.S.
Expect the U.S. to start quickly and prevent Brazil from developing a rhythm.
To do this they will need to pressure quickly when Brazil have possession and then attack quickly on the flanks, getting midfield support to the forwards. Even though they need to attack quickly they will need to show patience and avoid the long ball that has stretched the U.S. team in previous games.
I think this will be a fun game to watch, a game of goals, Brazil loves to attack and with their individual talent they should score. The U.S., with talent, strength and organization, should score more.
Prediction: U.S. 3 Brazil 1.
Updated: Ryan has taken the unusual step of dropping goalkeeper Hope Solo for the game in favor of veteran backup Brianna Scurry.
Solo has looked shaky on a couple of occasions in group play, but the torrential rain obviously played a huge factor.
Still, it’s another sign from a coach who has been with most of this squad for two years, that no one is sure of their place.
Even Shannon Boxx sat out the opening 45 minutes of the second group game against Sweden.
Was this a bold move on Ryan’s part, a harsh one or simply indicative of indecision?
We’ll find out within hours.
If the U.S. wins, it faces Germany in the final. Germany have yet to concede a goal in the tournament and beat Norway 3-0 earlier today.
Updated: The star of the Brazilian team, Marta, is a widely considered the best female soccer player in the world. What’s the U.S. up against? Check out her skills.