Must convert chances
After watching a plodding U.S. backline struggle to keep up with a faster Sweden in Wednesday's final group match, the short answer would be no, with the lone question being how much damage will Marta and Cristiane inflict. Containing one is hard enough.
The Americans will have to do a better job in the final third and convert their chances. Lauren Cheney in particular missed the target with a couple of gilt-edged opportunities in the first half Wednesday. This is not the caliber of U.S. team as in the past. It's a team that needed a playoff just to qualify.
Yet coach Pia Sundhage said after the loss Wednesday that she expects to play in the final. The heart might say one thing, but the eyes say another.
Americans will prevail
Grahame L. Jones
Los Angeles Times
For the long-term good of women's soccer, it would be better if Brazil were to win. This is the last opportunity for this generation of Brazilian players to leave a legacy that can carry the sport forward in South America.
That said, the U.S. has every chance of winning the quarterfinal match. The American team almost never has two poor games in a row, and the loss to Sweden will have fired up the players. Forward Amy Rodriguez will be furious at having been taken off at halftime.
If the U.S. defense can buckle down and if goalkeeper Hope Solo can come up big, the Americans can win. Marta will get her goal. Cristiane or Rosana might score too. But the U.S. will score one more than Brazil and reach the semis.
Brazil just too good
Gary R. Blockus
No one's ready to jump ship on coach Pia Sundhage's U.S. team just yet, but after the first opening-round loss in U.S. women's history, the prospect of a knockout-round match with Brazil is daunting.
Brazil looks invincible and the U.S., for the first time, looks ordinary. Chance to win? The U.S. has little chance to beat Brazil, which has its most talented, mature team ever.
But like former heavyweight champion Larry Holmes used to say, it's a knockout. The only thing the U.S. has going for it is the ability to score, but Brazil can do that better and has not given up a goal this tournament. This will be the worst World Cup performance in U.S. women's history.
If Rampone stops Marta
Of course the United States has a chance to upset Brazil on Sunday in a World Cup quarterfinal.
All it will take is an all-time performance by Christie Rampone, the world's best Marta stopper.
Marta — the five-time FIFA player of the year — had her way with the Americans in an epic 4-0 victory for Brazil at the 2007 World Cup in China.
And Brazil has flexed its muscles in rolling through group play at 3-0 without a goal allowed.
The Americans, meanwhile, are coming off a 2-1 loss to Sweden and have appeared less organized than hoped.
Still, this country basically invented big-time women's soccer.
U.S. over Brazil once more? Why not?