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Thorns Down Under: Matchday 2
Sophia Smith, Crystal Dunn, Christine Sinclair, Hina Sugita, and Rocky Rodriguez all just played in matches at the World Cup!
Raquel “Rocky” Rodríguez
After suffering an injury, Rocky has been rehabbing and working as hard as possible to come back at the World Cup. She did not appear in Costa Rica’s first match against Spain, but she made her return against Japan.
Although Costa Rica has not fared well against Spain or Japan, her return was much needed. As the heart and soul of the team, it’ll give the team a boost before their group stage finale against Zambia.
In the 64th minute, Rodríguez subbed in for her second World Cup. Rocky played with her trademark physicality and passion. Her team did not see the ball much. She had not played in a game in over 2 months so there was obvious rust and hesitation.
Could Costa Rica make history and win their first ever game at a World Cup in their final match?
Japan’s national team is very deep and has many options to rotate. In their first game against Zambia, they cruised to a 5-0 win without needing the services of Hina Sugita.
She would start and play the full game against Costa Rica at left midfielder. Japan was in full control of this game and that’s in large part to their team playing total football.
Sugita put her skills on display. She dribbled, passed, and did everything with her usual style and flair. The Japan international was dominant on the left and could do no wrong. It was a strong showing with their toughest challenge coming up against Spain.
Shoutout to our Melina Gaspar for capturing this incredible skill from Hina Sugita: Hina Hive Highlight
After going down early to the amazing olimpico from Ireland’s Katie McCabe, it was not looking good for Canada.
They’ve struggled to score consistently for a long stretch of games, especially in the run of play.
Right before the first half ended, Ireland’s Megan Connollly gifted Canada an own goal.
Christine Sinclair started their first game against Nigeria, but was on the bench to start off this one.
To start the second half, she was subbed on for Evelyne Viens.
Sincy brought her trademark calm presence and ball movement. Canada continued to play on the front foot throughout this game and Christine Sinclair helped keep Ireland on the back foot.
In the 52nd minute, former Portland Thorn, Adriana Leon received the perfect pass from Sophie Schmidt and calmly slotted it home to complete the comeback.
Canada faces off against Australia next with the entire world watching this huge match. They will need at least a tie to move to knockouts. The hosts Australia have struggled without superstar Sam Kerr who may be back for this game.
Vlatko Andonovski is the head coach of one of the most stacked teams in the world. He made no changes to the starting XI for this game against the Netherlands. and also, despite his team’s depth, he somehow only made one sub.
How is it possible to only make one change?
Lynn Williams, Ashley Sanchez, Kristie Mewis, Alana Cook, and Emily Sonnett have not seen a single minute yet.
The Gotham superstar Williams is one of the front-runners for Most Valuable Player in the NWSL, but can’t get into a single game.
The USWNT head coach has been getting negative media attention for his major gaffe. In the grandest stage of them all, it’s being argued that he continues to make too many mistakes. The team should be playing better, but continues to be maddeningly inconsistent.
Sophia Smith and Crystal Dunn have started both games, with the reigning NWSL MVP playing maximum minutes. She has become the focal point of the attack as we see the changing of the guard from Alex Morgan to her happen in real time.
The MVP was dangerous all match. The final product was missing though. Dunn did not play up to her standards in this particular game. There seemed to be a disconnect with her passes and communication with the backline. Adjusting from being an elite midfielder to left back has got to be a challenge more than ever in this system without much direction for Andonovski.
The fatigue was setting up for the entire team as the touches were a bit heavy, ball movement was sloppy, and the creativity was stifled. Franky, the USWNT has looked subpar in the group stage. This team’s talent is the thing still getting them results, however. The draw was the best result they could of hoped for after the lackadaisical start. Make no mistake, this team looks ‘mid’ at best.
The USWNT will need a draw or win in the group stage finale against Portugal to advance to the knockout rounds.