Yesterday was rainy, with a typhoon bearing down on the China coast. The U.S. and Nigeria faced off in Shanghai, while Korea and Sweden clashed in Tianjin. Both matches were rebroadcast today. Even on TV, you could see that the grass and the ball were slippery. There were slips and falls, trips and leg-tangles, glares and yellow cards. In the stands, screaming fans packed together under umbrellas.
The Korean-Swedish match was aired on Galavision, and the commentators went crazy in Spanish as Ri Un-Suk cannoned a 25-yard bombazo over the Swedish keeper's head into the net. The Koreans have developed a specialty in long-distance strikes that makes them dangerous. The Swedes love contact, so they responded with rough play. Final score: Sweden 2, Korea 1. But the Koreans are ahead on goals, overall. So they advance to the quarter-finals, where they will meet Germany.
Meanwhile, on ESPN, Lori Chalupny of the U.S. scored in the first 57 seconds with one of our own knock 'em dead strikes. Our women held off the Nigerians for the rest of the match, with their new style of direct play. No more of that fancy-footwork short-passing stuff all over the field. Just boot the ball a long way down the middle to Wambach, who hopefully takes care of the rest. In spite of a late rally by the African women, it worked. The U.S. squeaked through 1-0 with just enough goals to aim us at England on Sept. 22.
Will the U.S. face the dreaded Germans in the finals? Will the typhoon become a bigger factor? Stay tuned. Either way, it could be a perfect storm. -- Patricia Nell Warren