THIS WEEK’S BEST BET:
FIFA WOMEN’S WORLD CUP SEMIFINALS:
UNITED STATES vs. GERMANY
Details/TV: At Olympic Stadium in Montreal, Tuesday at 4 p.m., Channel 11
JAPAN vs. ENGLAND
Details/TV: At Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton, Wednesday at 4 p.m., Fox Sports 1
Details/TV: At BC Place Stadium in Vancouver, Sunday at 4 p.m., Channel 11:
We circle back and see how some tried to get their heads around this global event, predicting its outcome before artificial turf burns or burning-hot red cards came into play. For instance, there’s Julie Foudy, the Stanford-educated, two-time World Cup winner who captained the American squad for 13 years before retiring in 2004. She wrote in a piece for ESPNW.com that “the U.S. women will overcome finishing second in Group D to hoist the Cup in Vancouver on July 5.” Even if the U.S. really wound up winning that first-round foursome, Foudy tabbed Team American’s opponent in the grand finale as France. That won’t happen.
In Grant Wahl’s Sports Illustrated preview back in early June, France also went down to the U.S., but it was in the semifinals. He had the Americans triumphing over Brazil. A country, like France, didn’t actually make it that far.
Then there’s the predictability of thoughtful slicing and dicing from the website fivethirtyeight.com, which uses its Women’s Soccer Power Index (WSPI) to combine game-based offensive and defensive ratings to estimate a team’s overall skill level. Going in, Germany (95.6) and the U.S. (95.4) went in as almost equal favorites. But as time went on, the site predicted: “The U.S.’s slight advantage over Germany — despite Germany’s stronger power rating in our model — is because Germany is more likely to face a very strong French side in the quarterfinals.” As Die Nationalelf did in a 1-1 tie determined by penalty kicks before a pro-French crowd in Montreal. At last glance, the site gives Germany, led by Celia Sasic’s six goals, a 43 percent chance of winning the whole tournament, with U.S. second with a 30 percent chance, perhaps weighted down based on its meager 1-0 win over China in the semis where it didn’t have Lauren Holiday or Megan Rapinoe available. Neither Japan (18 percent) nor England (9 percent) stand much of a chance against the U.S.-Germany winner to claim the overall title.
Whatever happens, the Americans have at least one more game after Tuesday’s semifinal. It could be the third-place game Saturday in Edmonton (1 p.m., FS1). Or, it’s the bigger deal on Sunday, perhaps a rematch against Japan to possible avenge their penalty kick loss in the 2011 tournament final played in Germany.
ALSO THIS WEEK:
The Dodgers hit the halfway part of the season — Game No. 81 — with Friday’s first game of a homestand against the New York Mets … More New York invasion into Southern California with the Yankees’ visit to Angel Stadium on Monday-Wednesday … Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams go into the first week of Wimbledon as the men’s and women’s favorite … The 102nd Tour de France starts Saturday in, where else, but the Netherlands … More to see at this link.