MFST Sports Round Table: Women’s World Cup Edition
For this edition of MFST’s Sports Round Table we will be recapping the 2015 Women’s World Cup. We have asked five of our soccer experts four questions revolving around the Women’s World Cup. Also included in this edition are the standings for our soccer experts picks for the entire World Cup.
1. What team impressed you the most in the 2015 Women’s World Cup?
Brandon: The easy answer is the USA, but you have to be impressed by any team that won every game except the final and that is Japan. They were averaging 4 goals a game up until the final and went 6-0-0 before losing the final to the United States. They made their 2nd straight World Cup Final after winning Asia’s first ever World Cup in 2011. Japan has arrived in women’s soccer.
Cesar: I was most impressed by England. I’m not going to say they had no business making it to the semifinals but they sure weren’t a team I would’ve thought had that kind of deep run in them at the beginning of the World Cup. They punched above their weight the entire tournament until they proved how much they actually belonged by going toe-to-toe with runners-up Japan and then beating Germany for third place. They didn’t play the prettiest game but they knew how to bunker down with a strong defense and fought hard for every goal. They played smart, tactically sound soccer that made up for any deficiencies they had and managed to practically will themselves into the finish they earned. The only thing that kept them out of the final was a great cross that was going in no matter who scored it, and sadly, it was an own goal from a talented Laura Bassett (who played an amazing tournament and made a decision any defender would make). I’m not sure what’s in store for this team going forward but I’m sure going to keep an eye on them that I wouldn’t have a month ago.
Kevin: I was most impressed with the England. I’m not trying to take anything away from the Japanese Women, but a team that went into this tournament ranked 6th in the world according to FIFA and to play the way they did was outstanding. The Lionesses’ dominated their semifinal against Japan, from the moment they equalized right up until the unfortunate second that Laura Bassett’s deflection ended up as an own goal. They turned around and focused on anger and beat Germany.
Colby: The team that impressed me the most in the tournament was England. They impressed me by matching France’s point total in the group stage, and continued their great run all the way to the semifinals. Although the loss was devastating, they should be proud of their run, which should give them confidence going into the Olympics.
Dustin: For the sake of changing things up a bit, I’m going with Australia as most impressive. Yes, England was the surprise of the tournament, but Australia did enough to advance out of Group D, which was labeled the Group of Death. They drew first blood in their match with the United States, but ended up losing. They ended group play with a 1-1-1 record to advance, and then shocked the world by beating Brazil 1-0 in the opening round of the knockout stage. They then lost to Japan 1-0 after allowing the winning goal in the 87th minute.
2. What player impressed you the most?
Brandon: Carli Lloyd. I remember the Carli Lloyd from the last World Cup that couldn’t keep her shots down. But this year’s edition of Carli Lloyd was an all-time great. Not even close!
Cesar: Julie Johnston is the player that impressed me most this tournament. A few months ago, most U.S. soccer fans were questioning if she even belonged in the player pool. Then she gets called in for the World Cup and plays strong for every minute of the tournament. She had some shaky moments when she gave up a penalty against Germany, and with the own goal in the final, but other than those she was practically flawless from the start. She was one of the anchors for the central defense and was one of the main reasons the U.S. only let in three goals the entire tournament.
Kevin: Carli Lloyd is the player I was most impressed with. Not only did she manage a hat-trick, which is difficult enough in international play, but she did it in the first 17 minutes of the game! She’s also greatly improved over her last World Cup appearance in 2011. She’s able to keep her shots down, more of her shots are on target and she’s showing greater composure overall.
Colby: The player that impressed me the most was Carli Lloyd. Not only did she have an unbelievable start to the Final match, but she had three other goals in the tournament that really got her confidence high. The confidence she gained was obviously helpful to her game, as she exploded for three goals in the first 15 minutes.
Dustin: I think that the most impressive player was a toss-up between Carli Lloyd and Julie Johnston. Lloyd was a goal-scoring machine in this tournament, but there were questions as to whether or not Johnston should even be on the roster. The defense looked horrid at times in the matches leading up to the World Cup, but Johnston became a defensive anchor for the U.S., and without her they most likely would not have been playing in the final. Honorable mention here goes to Hope Solo as well. She made save after save and posted five straight shutouts in the World Cup; falling six seconds short of the all-time record for consecutive goalless minutes in a Women’s World Cup.
3. What team/player was the biggest disappointment?
Brandon: I would have to say Brazil. After sweeping group play they fell to Australia 1-0 in the Round of 16. While Australia is a very good team that I like a lot and even picked to beat Brazil, it’s Brazil. They are expected to put up a better fight than that in knockout play.
Cesar: The most disappointing player this tournament for me was Louisa Necib. She’s been the best French player for the past few years, but she was virtually quiet the entire tournament until France’s penalty kick quarterfinal loss to Germany. I expected much more from one of the best midfielders in the world in her prime. There may have been some other issues or injuries she was dealing with but this wasn’t the type of tournament she is used to playing. The most disappointing team for me was Germany–I know that’s strange, considering they were a game from the final, but they were ranked number one going into the tournament and finished a disappointing fourth. They barely made it to the semifinal by winning on penalties against a French team that ran them ragged. They then convincingly lost the semifinal and were grounded down in the consolation game. For a team that had 10-0 and 4-0 wins, they only had one good game against a quality team when they beat Sweden. They should have looked a lot more convincing than they did.
Kevin: Germany is my biggest disappointment. They were hyped as this awesome powerhouse, which they were in a weak group, but they managed to squeeze by to get to a semifinal against a far superior USA team, and it showed.
Colby: The most disappointing team for me has to be Brazil. They dominated their group stage by winning every game and allowing zero goals. Brazil losing in any round outside of the final four would have been a disappointment to me, but losing in the round of 16 is why they are the most disappointing team in my opinion.
Dustin: I think that it has to be Brazil, and more specifically, Marta. The Brazilians were considered a top contender in this World Cup, but they were knocked out in the first round of the knockout stage, 1-0, by Australia. Yes, they went 3-0-0 in group play, but their wins weren’t all that impressive to me. Marta is supposed to be one of the best women’s players in the world, but she didn’t play like it. She only scored one goal in the 2015 Women’s World Cup, and that came off of a penalty kick.
4. Who is the early favorite going into the Olympics?
Brandon: It has to be the USA. While Germany was the No. 1 ranked team in the world, I have to believe the U.S. will take over that No. 1 spot, and as of this morning they have. Coming off of a World Cup championship and beating Germany along the way, the U.S. should be favored in all of women’s soccer action for the next couple of years.
Cesar: The United States just convincingly won the World Cup, while only letting in three goals. If they can sort out their forwards situation, while replacing any of their retiring stars, then they’ll be unstoppable.
Kevin: I’m torn between the USA and England as my favorites for winning it all in the Olympics. If both teams play the way that they did in the World Cup in next summer’s Olympic tournament, then we might see an England vs. USA gold medal match.
Colby: My favorite going into the Olympics has to be the USA given how they finished this tournament. England would probably be my runner-up, given their impressive run to the semifinals. In the end though, I believe that the USA will continue to play extremely well and put themselves in a great position to win their second straight Olympics.
Dustin: I think that it has to be the USA at this point. A lot can change between now and then, but you have to go with the winners of the Women’s World Cup. We quite possibly could see a fourth straight finals match between the U.S. and Japan in the upcoming Olympics, as the two have faced each other in the last two World Cup Finals, and the 2012 Olympic final. England and Germany might be able to force the issue, as could Australia, but the USA and Japan know what it takes to win on a consistent basis.
Having wrapped up the 2015 Women’s World Cup, here is how our soccer experts did with their picks.
Women's World Cup Final Standings
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