US Women Beat China By Whitey Kapsalis, author of To Chase a Dream (Meyer & Meyer Sport 2014) What has endeared the people of this country to the US Women's National Team over the past couple decades was on full display against China on Friday night. US women beat China: a game played by the US with passion, purpose, high-energy and as a complete unit made this game a no-contest from the very beginning. An early squandered scoring chance by Amy Rodriguez kept this from being a complete route. If she puts away that breakaway shot, I believe goals would have come all game. In the end, it took a great service and a world class finish from Carli Lloyd to secure the 1-0 win, but the US set the tone from the opening whistle. Ball movement and possession, mixed with some individual flair, coupled with constant defensive pressure made this the most enjoyable game of the tournament thus far to watch. The line-up change, due to accumulation of yellow cards by Rapinoe and Holiday, was embraced and the entire team stepped up to the challenge. Once again, the back 5 were stellar and are as composed and cohesive as any defensive unit in the world; a formula that bodes well for this team’s chances going forward....offense wins games, defense wins championships. If the US continues to play with this mix of ingredients, they will be World Cup Champions on July 5th, and the country will be reminded, once again, why we love them so much. US vs. China By Shane Stay, author of Why American Soccer Isn’t There Yet (Meyer & Meyer Sport 2014) “In three short weeks it has become the hottest story of the summer,” said Robin Roberts from a sold out Rose Bowl stadium, in 1999. Four fighter jets soared over the crowd as the national anthem summed up and the crowd went crazy. Scurry, Chastain, Kate Sobrero, Overbeck and Joy Fawcett, Kristine Lilly, Michelle Akers, Julie Foudy, Hamm, Tiffeny Milbrett and Cindy Parlow. Some team. Yesterday’s rematch of the US vs. China where the US women beat China saw the US take the game right to China, not letting them out of their half if only for a moment. The Chinese were befuddled, utter disarray at times. But other moments allowed them the luxury to connect elegant passes together, showing what they’re made of. Indeed, they’re a good team, but on this day the athleticism of the US players took over the game. At times, from a dead start, a US player – I think Press, among others – would take a four-stride lead on her opponent. The loose balls won in the midfield were due to constant US pressure and great anticipation, particularly from Lloyd, the eventual goal-scorer, showing off her all-around game. Absolutely, Lloyd is the leader on the field, setting the tone, winning tackles, setting up the offense, but of particular note is Heath, #17. It’s as though Robben and Denilson had a baby sister, raising her from the crib with dribbling skills to unleash onto the Women’s World Cup someday. Keep going to Heath. An announcer noted to the effect of “Heath should give the ball up quicker so that Morgan can display her magic.” Morgan wasn’t displaying much magic. Heath was. If anything, Morgan, Lloyd and all the rest need to get the ball to Heath so she can do her thing which will bring good results for Morgan, Lloyd and the rest. Aside from Lloyd taking care of offense and defense, Heath is flat out the best player on the field. If she’s out of the next match…oh boy. Just keep her in, coach. Better things will happen. Tuesday, a date with Germany, who defeated France in the other Quarterfinal, is set for the Semi-Finals. It should be good. Women’s World Cup Nutrition Tip By Gloria Averbuch and Nancy Clark, authors of Food Guide for Women’s Soccer (Meyer & Meyer Sport 2015) And then there were four….Germany v. USA and England v. Japan (defending champion) remain in the tournament. They will play each other on Tuesday. In the meantime, here is some useful advice on vegetables from Food Guide for Women’s Soccer. Even over-cooked vegetables are better than no vegetables. If your only option is over-cooked veggies from the cafeteria, eat them. While cooking does destroy some of the vegetable‘s nutrients, it does not destroy all of them. Any vegetable is better than no vegetable! While farm-fresh is always best, keep frozen vegetables stocked in your freezer, ready and waiting. They are quick and easy to prepare, won‘t spoil quickly, and have more nutrients than "fresh" vegetables that have been in the store and your refrigerator for a few days. Because cooking (more than freezing) reduces a vegetable‘s nutritional content. Stay tuned for more from the Women’s World Cup
Bachmann Turns It into Overdrive, but Teammates Fail to Take Care of Business, Hence CANADA Wins Probably the most exciting player to watch in the Women’s World Cup so far has been Switzerland’s Ramona Bachmann. Her half field runs with the ball, dribbles past opponents, speed, goals, and creation of chances make her exciting to watch. Unfortunately, her efforts did not resulted in enough victories. Her teammates let her down after she provided them with some great scoring chances. Against Canada, in the round of 16 knock out match, Bachmann whizzed past a couple of defenders to set up a teammate with a sure goal scoring opportunity. In one attempt, Lara Dickenmann made a horrible error that could have caused the hosts a heap of trouble had she scored. In another chance also created by Bachmann, Canada’s goalkeeper, Erin McLeod bailed her teammates out by making an incredible hair-raising save that preserved their 1-0 victory. Just one goal, one chance, one second, can change the whole complexion of a game. Now, I can take this article a number of different directions, but I will stay with a similar theme to a previous Abby Wambach article about missing seemingly easy scoring chances. But in a future article, I will look at some important concepts regarding player development that coaches should know about so that we develop more exciting players like Bachmann. Similar to Wambach’s miss against Australia, Dickenmann made a similar key mental error in the chance set up by Bachmann. Often, when it comes to goal scoring, the reason players do not score is not because of lack of technique or skill but something completely different. I would say that psychology plays a bigger part of missed scoring opportunities than most coaches give credit for. Lara Dickenmann probably scored hundreds of goals like the chance she had in the Canada game at practices but in the pressure of a knock out game against the hosts, she could not take care of business. You can only attribute her missed opportunity, in the first half of their game against Canada, to a psychological breakdown for that instant. And that is exactly what it was. It’s clear on all the replays. It took only a split second for her to lose her deep concentration needed to score in that situation. It was a common mistake that players make all the time I have come up with three key concepts to focus on in such situations to help a player avoid missing these types of scoring chances. These 3 “secrets” have helped students in my Golden Goal Scoring Course break goal scoring records. They can be found in my book, The Last 9 Seconds. In it I explain how and why players miss chances and offer coaches some tools to help their players eliminate psychological errors as much as possible. It’s not often that a player these days tries to dibble around the whole team to try and score or set up a chance but Bachmann provided this type of entertainment. She put it all on the line and into over-drive. It’s too bad her tournament has ended because I enjoyed watching her play. Similar to watching Neymar, Messi and Giovinco of Toronto FC, these exciting players, who can take on opponents and create chances for themselves and their opponents are what fans pay for to see. So let me end this article by taking you back to the 70’s and to a completely unexpected place. Link here to see where that takes you and you’ll know why I titled the story what I did. Hope you enjoy! Link here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1dSzaScsWh4 Once again, Thank you for reading, John DeBenedictis www.thelast9seconds.com Cover photo by Les Jones, Covershots, Inc. Women’s World Cup Nutrition Tip By Gloria Averbuch and Nancy Clark, authors of Food Guide for Women's Soccer (Meyer & Meyer Sport 2015) What’s true for World Cup players is true for all players: You need to find time to fuel up and refuel with an eating schedule that enhances your energy and improves your performance. Eating with a purpose, and also with enjoyment—that’s what nutrition for soccer is all about! Eating the right foods at the right times can help you train at your best so you can then compete at your best. It will also improve your health and future well-being. Unfortunately, eating well on a daily basis doesn’t just happen magically. You need to understand good nutrition, and find time to food shop, so you’ll have wholesome sports foods available. This is the message of Food Guide for Women’s Soccer. Stay tuned for more from the Women’s World Cup. Watch for today’s quarterfinal matches, Germany v. France; China v. USA.
Thursday's Nutrition Tip Carbohydrates are not just pasta and rice. You should know that according to Food Guide for Women’s Soccer, fruits and vegetables are also excellent sources of carbohydrates. But some players have trouble figuring out how to consume the recommended daily 2 cups (500 g) of fruits and 21⁄2 cups (600 g) of vegetables. The trick is to eat large portions. Most soccer players can easily enjoy a banana (counts as one cup fruit) and 8 ounces (one cup) of orange juice in the morning. That’s already the minimal 2 cups of fruit for the day! A big bowl of salad filled with colorful spinach, tomato, carrot, and pepper can account for the minimal recommended 21⁄2 cups of vegetables. We hope Thursday's nutrition tip helps you. Stay tuned to more from the Women’s World Cup. USA v. China Friday!
Here is today's nutrition tip from Gloria Averbuch and Nancy Clark, authors of Food Guide for Women's Soccer. And now there are 8.....teams left in the Women's World Cup, that is. The quarterfinals are set, and in terms of taking care of themselves off the field, the teams must go the 'extra mile' for the optimum preparation. As it states in Food Guide for Women's Soccer, just as each teammate depends on the others to be fit, focused and ready to play, so too with being well-nourished. When you eat right, you do so for yourself and for the team effort, since what, when and how you fuel has a direct impact on your performance. Parents, coaches, team captains and/or managers: take a poll before games. Ask players what and when they ate before arriving. If it isn’t up to speed (often that means not enough), pass the pre-game snacks. Eventually, players will learn to eat well on their own. Stay tuned for more from the Women’s World Cup
"It's a Battle of the Mind" “When you miss a chance in open play, people don’t remember. When you miss a chance on a penalty, people remember,” said Alan Shearer, all-time leading goal scorer for Newcastle United of the EPL. Years later people talk about a missed penalty shot. People still talk about Baggio’s missed penalty kick at the 1994 Men’s World Cup Final in the USA. Certainly people remember most when a missed penalty shot costs you the game. Yesterday, Alex Morgan bailed out Abby Wambach after her missed penalty shot against Columbia at the FIFA Women’s World Cup by scoring shortly after the miss to erase some people’s memory. Later in the contest, the USA was awarded another penalty and everyone was wondering whether or not Wambach would be given another chance. She couldn’t miss two in a row could she? Instead Lloyd stepped up to the spot and scored. The USA won the game 2-0 to get to the quarter finals. It’s not often that a player gets a chance to take two penalty shots in one game but when it happens, the coach has a big decision to make. In one way, you would assume that your best shot taker will regain their composure to do what they have done for you many times. In another case, you figure that their confidence may be a bit shattered and you cannot put them under that kind of pressure. Penalty shot taking is all in the mind isn’t it. Even for the coach! In Sunday’s MLS match with the Vancouver Whitecaps the New York Red Bulls’ coach gave striker Bradley Wright-Phillips a second chance at taking a penalty shot in the game after missing his first. Consequently, Wright-Phillips became the first player in MLS history to miss two penalty shots in the same game. The Red Bulls lost 2-1 and ultimately, Wright-Phillips’ two missed scoring chances cost his team the game. In my book, The Last 9 Seconds, I spend a full chapter on the psychological aspects of the penalty shot. Taken right out of the book, Shearer said, “It’s a battle of the mind. When I missed in one game, it was my responsibility that everyone went home miserable that evening. It took a while to get over that. Penalty shots don’t get any easier just because you have taken lots.” In the 1999 Women’s World Cup Final, Brandi Chastain scored that memorable penalty shot goal that got her so excited that she took her shirt off after the ball went in the net to give the USA the World Cup. But fortunately for her, she had taken a shot on the Chinese goalkeeper before. She said, “She (Gao Hong) had psyched me out earlier. I looked up and caught her eye. Her gaze rattled me and my shot dinged off the crossbar.” In her book It’s Not About the Bra, Chastain said, “There is no way I’d look into her eyes again. A penalty kick is as much a mental challenge as it is a physical one. No one really expects a keeper to save a PK, so she has nothing to lose. All the mental pressure weighs on the shooter.” And how ironic is it that the USA’s quarter final match is against China. Should it go into penalty shots again, Wambach will certainly be asked to step up to the spot. Wow, what pressure. Thanks for Reading, John DeBenedictis http://www.thelast9seconds.com/
US vs. Columbia By Shane Stay, author of Why American Soccer Isn’t There Yet (Meyer & Meyer Sport 2014) In last night's WWC, US vs. Columbia, the US wins 2-0, getting past Columbia as expected but as the team prepares for a strong China side, there are still questions. Julie Foudy speaking on the ESPN Freddie Coleman Show said. “Get stuck in,” with a laugh, responding to his question on how the US can defeat China on Friday in the Quarterfinal match. The echo chamber is more or less: “There needs to be more cohesive play; there needs to be more aggressive tackling; better chemistry; more offense.” All this is true as the squad is not playing the best soccer, but they’re moving on. In similar fashion to the men’s Brazilian team last summer in 2014, they’re getting by, however it’s not very eye pleasing. The problem is, on paper, they have great talent. There are moments when the talent is clearly on display. The players have the skill and commitment, but there’s a quality lacking that’s holding them back from really getting things into high gear. There’s a lot of pressure on the team, particularly in the showdown with China: the rematch of 1999, when the best team in US women’s history, led by Akers and Hamm, were full throttle. The US should win, but enthusiastic fans are hoping for a thrilling show, which the team is more than capable of. http://www.shanestay.com/ US Maintains Composure, Ousts Columbia By Whitey Kapsalis, author of To Chase a Dream (Meyer & Meyer Sport 2014) The intent of the Columbian Soccer team leading up to their game vs the US was to try to turn it into an emotional battle. They wanted to test the US Team’s mental toughness with pre-game rumors and innuendo’s, but it did not work. The US maintained its composure, even after ending the first half at 0-0 and even after missing a potential go-ahead penalty kick in the 2nd half. Those situations did not demoralize the US effort; instead they inspired the US effort. This US Team is savvy, this US Team is poised and this US Team accomplished the task at hand with relentless offensive pursuit in beating emotionally charged Columbia 2-0, and advancing to the next round of the World Cup. Megan Rapinoe was outstanding on both ends of the field and a healthy Alex Morgan is a handful for opponents to deal with. This veteran, focused US squad simply took care of business and let their actions do the talking. http://www.tochaseadream.com/ Women’s World Cup Nutrition Tip By Gloria Averbuch and Nancy Clark, authors of Food Guide for Women's Soccer (Meyer & Meyer Sport 2015) Particularly in the summer heat of the Women’s World Cup, both players and fans likely turn to salad for a meal. Food Guide for Women’s Soccer offers the following advice for athletes or anyone filling their salad bowls. Choose a variety of colorful vegetables—dark green lettuces, red tomatoes, yellow peppers, orange carrots—for a variety of vitamins and minerals. If the vegetables you buy for salads tend to wilt in your refrigerator, consider frequent trips to the salad bar at the grocery store and deli as an alternative to tossing veggies that spoil before you find the chance to eat them. And here’s a tip: dig from the bottom, to make sure to get the coldest (and therefore best preserved) part of the salad bar. Also, watch the dressing. If you choose to use regular dressings, try to select ones made with olive oil for both a nice flavor and health-protective monounsaturated fats, or dilute them with vinegar or other liquid for a lighter touch. Stay tuned to more from the Women’s World Cup http://www.pointsgroupllc.com/author/gaverbuch/ http://www.nancyclarkrd.com/
Women's World Cup Nutrition Tip By Gloria Averbuch and Nancy Clark, authors of Food Guide for Women's Soccer As the remaining teams in the tournament contest the round of 16, the players spend their off days training, resting and refueling. Many soccer players and their parents misunderstand the role of protein in a sports diet. According to Food Guide for Women's Soccer, many wrongly believe protein should be the foundation of their sports diets. While you do need adequate protein, it should be a accompaniment to the carb-based meals that fuel your muscles. Smaller amounts of protein—about 10% to 15% of your calories—can adequately build and repair muscles, make red blood cells, enzymes and hormones, and allow hair and fingernails to grow. This translates into a small-to-medium portion (20 to 30 grams of protein) at each meal. Stay tuned for more from the Women's World Cup http://www.pointsgroupllc.com/author/gaverbuch/ http://www.nancyclarkrd.com/
Just like I predicted in my blog last week, after Wambach missed a great scoring opportunity against Australia, she’d bounce back better than ever. Folks, “Wambach is back”. Her goal against Nigeria put the USA through to the next round in the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup and was the only goal of the match. When the pressure is on to score key goals, the best find their way back to putting the ball in the net. It’s just the way it is. For the best to stay the best, that’s the way it has to be. Sometimes you wonder why the top goal scorer’s continue to be the top scorer’s year after year, even though often other players seem to have similar or more technical skills than they do. They just fail to register as many goals as them. The answer is that the best goals scorer’s in the World have that special mental make-up that others don’t. I like to call it their “inner game” is better. And of course, I talk about that extensively in my Golden Goal Scoring Courses and in my book, The Last 9 Seconds. I believe it’s the 9 seconds before a goal is scored that counts the most. What is the player thinking, doing, and where are they going? What’s going through their mind so they get to the right spot at the right time and what are they doing with their final touch? Seems simple but it’s the hardest thing to do. That’s why consistent goal scorers are highly sought after and make the most money. When a striker fails to score for 5 straight games, everyone wonders what’s wrong with them even if they are getting absolutely no decent balls that anyone can possibly score with. If a striker doesn’t score often, they will disappear into obscurity, sometimes without ever getting another chance at the big leagues. If a striker goes into a slump, especially once they approach 30 years of age, they are often labeled as being finished and ready for retirement. How unfair. I recall consulting Jeff Cunningham of the MLS. He was one of the all-time leading goal scorers in the MLS before getting to Toronto. After a terrible season with Toronto FC, where he could not find the back of the net much, I had the pleasure of meeting him and started consulting him. Players can be very fragile when the pressure is on them. Jeff was a true gentleman and very receptive to my advice. He wanted to improve and listen to my comments even though he was an experienced goal scorer. The following season he got back on track and won the MLS scoring title with FC Dallas at the ripe old age of 33. That’s’ practically unheard of in soccer. But if you can clear the mind and get your “inner game” back in form, great goal scorers will put away their past misses and poor performances and get right back on track. Strikers have to have that special makeup to be able to score goals year after year especially after getting hacked, butchered, and fouled all the time. If they don’t, they’re gone. The striker position is so unforgiving. That’s why I knew Abby would bounce back. Her goal against Nigeria required deep concentration and focus. She was there and did her thing. Way to go Abby! Best of luck the rest of the way. Thanks for Reading, John DeBenedictis www.thelast9seconds.com Women's World Cup Nutrition Tip By Gloria Averbuch and Nancy Clark, authors of Food Guide for Women's Soccer (Meyer & Meyer Sport 2015) As the tournament moves on, the question becomes: how do players stay energized? Do vitamin supplements help players? As Food Guide for Women's Soccer tells players, your best bet for fighting fatigue is to be responsible with your choices and nourish your body with the right balance of wholesome foods. Make the effort to eat a variety of foods and fluids from the different food groups every day to consume not only the amount of vitamins and minerals you need, but also the calories your body needs to prevent fatigue. If you are tempted to take supplements for health insurance, do so only if you simultaneously choose to eat responsibly. Remember, no amount of supplements will compensate for an inadequate diet--but you will always win with good nutrition. Eat wisely, eat well! Stay tuned for more from the Women's World Cup
As I sit and watch the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup I sense that there seems to be something different about the women’s game than I’m used to seeing with the men’s. There is a refreshing quality about the spirit that the games are played in that’s noticeable. But at first, I could not figure out what that was. The women play the game as tough as men. There are some tough bone- crunching challenges in the game that make you want to look away. At the same time, we see some great finesse and strategic play that did not exist 20 years ago. The women’s game has come a long way. I find it very enjoyable to watch. But what I noticed most is that they play the game fairly most of the time. I do not see cases where players are deliberately attempting to injure an opponent. Also, and this is the part that took me a while to figure out, I don’t see feather-like contact turn into academy award, “I just got shot”, performances. The women play tough but fair. You know that when someone is down, they are probably injured in some way and not faking it. And I’m not the only one to have noticed this. When I’ve brought this up with avid soccer fans, they have all agreed. In the event of tough challenges, it often results in a badly timed tackle and not any intention to cheat or disobey the rules. Of course there are some exceptions but generally this quality is refreshing. I wish that more men players played in this spirit. Thanks for Reading, John DeBenedictis, author of The Last 9 Seconds: Follow on twitter @JohnD_Soccer Like on Facebook
US Women Beat Nigeria, Win Group By Whitey Kapsalis, author of To Chase a Dream (Meyer & Meyer Sport 2014) The US Women beat Nigeria in an important final game of the first round, winning the group and advancing on to the next round. A late 1st half goal by Abby Wambach was the difference in a game dominated by the US. A few counter-attack opportunities by Nigeria kept the game interesting, but the US was in control throughout. The highlight of the game was Lauren Holiday’s presence and composure in the midfield. She orchestrated the offense by being around the ball a lot and by playing balls that kept the Nigerian defense off-balance. Once again, the back five of the US defenders were stingy and disciplined throughout the game, breaking down most of Nigeria’s attack in the defensive third. http://www.tochaseadream.com/ US vs. Nigeria By Shane Stay, author of Why American Soccer Isn’t There Yet (Meyer & Meyer Sport 2014) Columbia vs. England will likely determine who the US plays next in Edmonton, Canada. The Women’s World Cup is getting more exciting! Wambach’s goal, a volley with her foot – not her head – put the US past Nigeria, as predicted, to win Group D. The midfield was better, with room for improvement. This win avoids a second round game against a strong Brazilian side. As Wambach and Morgan got more playing time, maybe that was the key as Abby’s goad in the first half finished the score against Nigeria, 1-0. Coming off a tie against Sweden this was a great confidence builder for the team in the next few days. Furthermore, Morgan’s start was the first in two months, due to an injury comeback. US fans are hoping to see more from her. Combined with Lloyd, and other midfield talent, things are coming together for the US, gaining momentum heading into the knock out rounds. Some keys to look for will be the US remaining composed in possession and not getting rattled when they don’t score right away, with a solid and relaxed defense, who, up to this point, has played well, keeping the US in games, but has also looked jittery at times. http://www.shanestay.com/blog Women's World Cup Tip--Get Your Sleep! By Gloria Averbuch and Nancy Clark, authors of Food Guide for Women’s Soccer (Meyer & Meyer Sport 2015) As the tournament moves on to the crucial knock-out rounds, every aspect of players caring for themselves both on and off the field becomes more crucial. In addition to good nutrition, other lifestyle aspects come into consideration. According to Food Guide for Women's Soccer, in addition to fatigue, lack of sleep directly affects athletic performance. According to research quoted in the book, cumulative sleep deprivation has been shown to reduce cardiovascular performance by 11%. It also affects other measures of performance, such as focus, perceived exertion, and alters the supply of energy to the muscles. Stay tuned to more from the Women's World Cup http://www.pointsgroupllc.com/author/gaverbuch/ http://www.nancyclarkrd.com/