By Shane Stay, author of Why American Soccer Isn't There Yet For years, soccer fans have noted how the women’s side is the powerhouse in the world and men’s side is only recently becoming the head of state within CONCACAF. Traditionally, the women’s side didn’t have much competition as the rest of the world did not culturally embrace “girls playing soccer” as much as the US did. Certain countries like Romania and Russia thrived in gymnastics – a very athletic sport – but not soccer. Gradually it came to be, following this trend of the post-90s boom in soccer’s popularity with the girl’s youth club levels. The US has been a big “exporter” of women’s rights around the world, and this has transcended to the inclusion of girls playing more organized team sports such as soccer. Honestly, women’s soccer has been an afterthought around the world up until the 99’ World Cup, with all its excitement and a sold out 90,000 plus Rose Bowl Stadium that erupted on one shot that won the cup. Photo courtesy of Les Jones Covershots, Inc. According to Anson Dorrance, former US national coach, a lot of his top talent got so good because they grew up playing against their brothers and on co-ed teams. Many other countries did not encourage co-ed soccer leagues, which led to early success for the women’s side. The women’s game has also benefited from a long line of collegiate sports, which much of the world lacked. Our men’s team has improved greatly since the inception of the MLS in 1995. From that time on, soccer has grown wildly in popularity at the youth levels. However, traditionally speaking, one major factor concerning the slow progress of the men’s side has been the lack of a secure competitive professional “outdoor” league. The NASL came and went. Other lesser known leagues had ephemeral moments. The indoor league was established in the late 70s and has remained intact all these years. In the 80s and early 90s, largely speaking, the men’s side only had the indoor league to compete in. Indoor is essential in making outdoor players better, but, if you “only have an indoor league” then this will be detrimental for an outdoor team. Up until recently, the men’s game has just plain not been embraced by American society. And frankly, there are huge portions of the population that will never embrace it – in fact, they dismiss it with out-right contempt. That’s a problem. The rest of the world has a hundred-year head start. Soccer tradition is entrenched within their psyche like baseball is to ours. Yet, with boy’s club soccer at its highest point in popularity, it might be just a matter of diligent patience for a new generation to join the women’s side and take home the other World Cup.
Textbook Finishing by Carli Lloyd to Win World Cup. Did She Read my book? Carli Lloyd practically won the US Women’s World Cup on her own with her three goal performance and she did it in textbook fashion. There it is in plain English on page 217 and 229 of my book on how to score a goal from a cross. Carli Lloyd followed my instructions step by step. Did she read my book? Her hat-trick performance was one of perfection. Her actually finish is no different than any player can and should be able to do provided they know how to kick and pass a ball. But for some reason few seem to be able to score consistently. The actually physical skills needed to score are simple. And practically every player good enough to play on a State, College, or National Team has them. Why then, do not more of them score when they should? A shocking 16 of 24 teams in the tournament scored 5 or fewer goals in the whole tournament. The US team scored 5 in the finals with clinical finishes. Canadian coach, John Herdman was asked before the final what Canada needed to do to get to a final. His answer, “develop goal scorers”. The question is how? In my opinion, there are plenty of players that have the needed physical skills to score. The question then becomes, do they have the mental skills? That’s the issue and that’s what I tackle in my book, The Last 9 Seconds. The second goal displayed even more textbook finishing by Carli Lloyd than the first. Her run into the box to score followed the step by step path I lay out on page 219 of the book. And her third goal is right there on page 188. After her third goal the color commentator in the game said that Carli Lloyd was in “the zone”. Wait a second, that’s chapter 23 and 24. Lloyd was definitively in “the zone” as her split second decisions were the difference between scoring by being at the right spot at the right time and not scoring by being a bit too early or too late. Her third goal is what I talk about in my classroom sessions to my goal scoring students. I discuss the mental aspects of the game including knowing the opposing goalkeeper and what he or she may be doing at any given time. These super advanced skills are all mental skills that separate the top players from the average because in reality, the skill of kicking a ball in the net, or passing a ball in a 8 yard by 8 foot target should not be that difficult. Being focused and in the zone to make the right decisions at the right time is the main skill that strikers need to develop but it’s not an easy task. In her post game press conference Lloyd said she had visualized scoring goals the night before and said that scoring is a mental thing. My gosh, that’s chapter 25. Ok now, if you’re a coach, surf right over to www.thelast9seconds.com to order your copy of my book. Be warned it’s got a lot of information (400+ pages) but as Dr Jay Martin said in a review in the NSCAA’s Soccer Journal, “It’s an entertaining read. It’s an easy read. The book just works on so many levels. This book is highly recommended.” And if you’re a member of the National Soccer Coaches Association of America, check out the latest issue of Soccer Journal for a special discount. If you’re not, you better become one because this association is open to bringing in different ideas and opinions from coaches around the world to make everyone a better coach. It’s probably why the USA is on top of the world right now in soccer. www.nscaa.com Thanks for reading. John DeBenedictis
By Whitey Kapsalis, author of To Chase a Dream The US Women's National Team was on a mission to win the 2015 World Cup and they ended their historic run with a 5-2 victory over Japan in the final game. As the tournament unfolded and the US got closer to their goal, they became more focused, more intent and more together as a unit, playing their best soccer on the last day of the tournament. Carli Lloyd put on a show that we may never see again in our lifetime. Her desire, leadership and talent set the tone for this US Team four games ago and she completed the task with 3 spectacular goals in the first half, putting the game away before Japan could even get settled in. While it took an incredible individual effort to secure the victory and title as World Champions, this US Team epitomized the "team concept" necessary to obtain success at any level. Each player embraced their role, focused on the greater good and selflessly put their egos on the shelf to secure the ultimate prize. It took 23 women and a great coaching staff to accomplish what they did and each one of the players deserves credit in their own right for what the team accomplished. Being part of history, being part of something special and being part of a World Championship Team takes extraordinary leadership, chemistry and an understanding, and embracing, of individual roles along the way. Every player did what they needed to do to help this team become World Cup Champions, a true testament to the heart and soul of the American spirit and something we can all be very proud of. Congrats to the US Women's National Team, thanks for inspiring a Nation and reminding us of the great gift that togetherness can bring!!
US vs. Japan The 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup Championship By Shane Stay, author of Why American Soccer Isn't There Yet The rematch was set to commence. Four short years ago, in 2011, which may seem like an eternity for some of the players, the US lost an agonizing defeat against the talented Japanese in the final match. With all eyes on Vancouver, the beauty of fate in sports gave everyone another chance to sit back and watch two great teams do it all over again. I’m tempted to make the most suspect analogy but it’s worth it. When it comes to the US vs. Japan the US is “Maverick,” Tom Cruise, and Japan is the “Iceman,” Val Kilmer. The US has to live up to the reputation of “Duke Mitchell” (the 99’ squad) and they have something to prove, playing with great skill, momentum and two inches from the edge, just like Maverick and Goose. Japan is steady, always patient, wearing you down, waiting for a moment to strike, just like the Iceman and Slider. In an attempt to find out “who is the best” the US had to go through the better team, the number one ranked team in the world, Germany (AKA “Cougar”), who lost their wings, in a momentary lapse of concentration…(Yes, I’m stuck in the 80s; you should see how I dress.) In front of over 53,000 fans in Vancouver, Canada, it was finally time for Maverick, who’s athletic, daring and emotional, to go head-to-head with the steady, precise, perfection-oriented Iceman. Maybe, just maybe, the US would have to tap the brakes for a moment allowing Japan to fly right by, for an opening at goal. Not exactly. The only brake taping may have arrived later in the game as the US was holding on to a secure victory. As most people know, the game erupted with two early goals from Lloyd, setting the stadium ablaze with excitement. Six minutes hadn’t even gone by and it was 2-0! By the time the third came – still in the first half, mind you – no one thought it could happen, but it did: Lloyd scored a hat trick…in the first half. Not only was it a hat trick, which is rare enough in soccer, it was a hat trick in the first half, and, from a long distance “chip shot” from half field, as Lloyd capitalized. This is a shot which many people have tried and failed only to occur on rare highlight goals from VHS tapes called “The 100 Greatest Goals” and it’s done by some Englishman in the mid-80s. And Lloyd scored one to complete a hat trick, in the championship game? Yep. It’s the equivalent to a NFL quarterback throwing five or six touchdown passes in the first half of a Super Bowl. Maybe. It’s hard to compare. The point is you’re not going to see something like this very often. And that made it 4-0. The US was sailing. Japan, on the other hand, kept things steady, chiseling away at possession, eventually knocking in a goal before the half let out. By the second half, Sawa, Japan’s best player from the past had joined the pitch, hoping to improve the effort. It became 4-2, with Miyama, the talented number eight, leading the way and at this moment Japan had a chance. With one more goal they could have put the US on their heels with the unthinkable comeback, however, Heath found a nice pass on her foot in front of the goal for a guided one-touch score, which took away Japan’s momentum. For soccer fans of “yesterday” so to speak, Christie Rampone got subbed in at the young age of forty. Born on June 24, 1975, she completed a cycle of sorts, from the 99’ bunch to now. She played with the national team on-and-off since 1997 but was left off the memorable 99’ roster. From 2003-2009, she took a break from the game, returning all this time later to join Wambach on the stage to hoist the trophy high in the air for a triumphant victory against a worthy rival, bringing a third World Cup title to the United States Women’s side. Sepp Blatter, the President of FIFA, usually presides over the ceremonial functions but he was absent this time around saying, “…I won’t take any travel risks,” being investigated by the US Department of Justice for the legal problems he and many of his FIFA colleagues are facing at the moment. This was only a footnote to an otherwise remarkable game as the US team stole the show in fashion, golden confetti and all. To play with such style late in the tournament was a huge turn around for a team many people were questioning in the early rounds. Analysts noted good play here and there but spoke with trepidation. The talent was there; the potential was there, yet they weren’t “impressing” anybody. Sure, they had moments of brilliance, but the immediate future was gloomy, at best. Then, from the China match onward, everything clicked as the team was destined to stand in the middle of golden confetti to be compared – rightly so – with the 99’ squad, who they’ve been chasing all this time. At this point, the team will enjoy the celebrations and get ready for the next time around!
Here are some quick and easy meal ideas from the experts on nutrition, Gloria Averbuch and Nancy Clark, authors of Food Guide for Women's Soccer. Women’s World Cup Nutrition Tip And then there were two…the final on Sunday is USA v. Japan. Until then, it’s (light) training, sleeping, and…eating! A majority of soccer players and fans are busy people—whether with school, work, other obligations, or a combination of these. Food Guide for Women’s Soccer offers the following tips: Quick and Easy Meal Ideas pasta with clam sauce, tomato sauce, and/or frozen vegetables, and/or lowfat cheese canned beans, rinsed and then spooned over rice, pasta, or salads frozen dinners, supplemented with whole-grain bread and fresh fruit Pierogies, tortellini, and burritos from the frozen food section baked potato topped with cottage cheese or ricotta whole-grain cereal (hot or cold) with fruit and low-fat milk quick-cooking brown rice—made double for the next day‘s rice and bean salad stir-fry, using precut vegetables from the market, salad bar, or freezer. Purchase garlic sauce at any take-out Chinese restaurant (and rice too if you need it) and add to your own cooked vegetables, rice, leftover meats. Scrambled eggs (Combine beaten eggs and seasonings with grated raw zucchini, cheese, tomato slices, or leftover cooked vegetables.) thick-crust pizza, fresh or frozen, then reheated in the toaster oven homemade pizza (pizza dough from the supermarket with jarred spaghetti sauce, steamed vegetables, and grated cheese) bean soups, homemade, canned, or from the deli souped-up soup (canned soup with added steamed vegetables, leftover meat, fish or grated cheese) Stay tuned for more from the Women’s World Cup
By Whitey Kapsalis, author of To Chase a Dream (Meyer & Meyer Sport 2014) In my 45 years of being around soccer as a player, parent and coach, I've seen many unfortunate events that lead to losses (missed PK's, blown saves, near misses and even own goals), but I've never witnessed a more disheartening loss than what I saw yesterday while watching the England/Japan game. England had surprised all fans of the World Cup and has riveted a nation on their journey throughout the World Cup, and on Thursday night, they played like World Champions. Once again they rose to the challenge of underdog and outplayed a Japan team that is defending World Cup Champions. A few England near misses (a shot off the crossbar, a header that just went outside the far post and a diving save by the Japanese Goalkeeper) kept this game even at 1-1. But England had all the momentum heading into the inevitable overtime period. And then it happened...an own goal by England in the 93rd minute erased the tie and eliminated England from the World Cup. Japan advances to face the US in the Final on Sunday. What was more riveting to me, however, was the reaction of the England Coach and players after this crushing defeat. They talked about how proud they were of each other, how they have inspired a nation, how they have allowed young girls back home to dream, how proud they were to wear the England jersey and how proud they are of their teammate (the teammate who score the own goal), calling her the rock of the team, the heart and soul and how they never would have even gotten this without her as the central defender. Dealing with adversity is not easy and I'm not sure how long it will take her to get over this unfortunate and accidental mistake, but with the undeniable support, friendship and love from her teammates (and country), she will move on and she will be better for it. This is what makes the World Cup special for these Women and special for the fans...they play for their country, they play for each other and they play for themselves...in that order. This unselfish approach to a team game makes these games so entertaining as these Women give everything they have in every minute of every game. The US Team portrays that more than any team in the world. We are fortunate to be able to witness England's response of pride, unity and support in one of the most adverse moments in each of their lives, as an example of how we should react when adversity comes into our own lives. I feel bad for England, but they will go home to a country that will forever embrace this team, even though they came up short. These same qualities that I've described for England are the exact same qualities that make our own US Team so special. They will play their hearts out every minute of the Final against Japan, just as they've done in every game prior, in an effort to inspire a nation, inspire young girls to dream and accomplish a goal that has eluded them since 1999...this country will embrace these Women when it is all over...and rightfully so. A refreshing sporting event...World Cup, World Class.
By Whitey Kapsalis, author of To Chase a Dream (Meyer & Meyer Sport 2014) The US Women's National Team is getting better and better with each game and played it's best last night in a 2-0 victory over #1 ranked Germany. A line-up /formation change proved to be the right formula for the US as they controlled the tempo of the game throughout. The midfield play, led by the peskiness of Morgan Brian and the attacking ability of Carli Lloyd, dominated Germany's midfield and set the tone in what was a great victory in their quest for a 3rd World Cup. Defensively, other than one breakdown which led to a missed Germany penalty kick, the US was tenacious in shutting down a German Team that had scored more goals than any other team in this years World Cup. Limiting Germany to very few scoring chances was a credit to the commitment of overall team defense that the US has embraced since the opening game. Now, they are just 1 game away from becoming World Cup Champions once again and if their commitment to themselves, to each other and to their country continues, their goal should become a reality on Sunday. Women’s World Cup Nutrition Tip By Gloria Averbuch and Nancy Clark authors of Food Guide for Women’s Soccer (Meyer & Meyer 2015) In winning the crucial semi-final against Germany, the USA showed how it has been building towards increasingly better play as the tournament grinds on. In Food Guide for Women’s Soccer, frequent meals have their place in that crucial distribution of energy. Whereas breakfast is the most important meal of your training diet, lunch is the second most important. In fact, Nancy Clark encourages soccer athletes to eat TWO lunches! One lunch at about 11:00 A.M. (or at your break), when you first start to get hungry, then a second lunch at about 3:00 in the afternoon, say, after school, when the munchies strike and there’s still time to digest before you start soccer practice at 4:30 or 5:00 P.M. If you train in the morning, these lunches refuel your muscles. If you train in the late afternoon, these lunches prepare you for a strong workout. If you train mid-afternoon, after school, you may want to divide your second lunch into a pre-exercise and a recovery snack. And in all cases, two lunches will curb your appetite so you are not ravenous at the end of the day. Stay tuned for more from the Women’s World Cup.
By Shane Stay, author of Why American Soccer Isn’t There Yet (Meyer & Meyer Sport 2014) Finally, against China, the US team clicked, playing much better than previous performances in which critics across the board saw something wrong with the chemistry. No one was doing anything; or moving forward with positive results; it was hard to watch, etc. And then, against China, in the great rematch of 99’ Heath was the player that spun everything together, giving the US side confidence from the dribble, making the opponent look off balance and at times silly for even trying to be on the same field as her. The quality of play from Germany, the world’s number one, and the rejuvenated US side was world class from the start. Back and forth…great possession from both sides, with technical skill at the highest level. (This match, tallied up with preceding games, marked the most yellow cards in Women’s World Cup history, but the play on the field wasn’t dirty, at times chippy with the referee keeping things under control.) Rapinoe and Lloyd were strong in the first half, winning tackles while surging forward. The Germans switched fields with pinpoint accuracy and pace. The first half reached the highest point with the pass of the game from Heath to Morgan for a one-on-one with Angerer who made a great save. It was one of many saves, as Heath stood out again as the best attacker on the field, creating havoc in the box with multiple attempts at goal. Moving into the second half Germany couldn’t capitalize on a penalty kick as controversy struck a few minutes later at the other end when Morgan – who is still a little slow, playing with a previous injury – went down just inside the box, or was it outside? Regardless, she made a great move on the German defender who clearly made the foul leading to a game winning penalty kick from the captain Lloyd, who looked left but went right. The subtlety of “looking the wrong way” or even “looking the right way” to throw off a goalie has always been an under-appreciated nuance. Whether Lloyd was trying to fool Angerer or not, and whether the keeper was even watching her eyes, is anyone’s guess. Some great combination play led to the final goal, putting an extremely talented German side out of the game. The winner of England and Japan will be irrelevant as this US team is without a doubt heading to the first place podium. With only one goal scored against the US “the whole tournament” it will take a miracle to overtake this momentum. The correct thing to say is, “We’re not there yet, we’ll take it one game at a time.” But please, nothing short of a shoot-out is going to stop this team. England or Japan: It really doesn’t matter at this point. All they can hope for is tying the game. Photo courtesy of Les Jones Covershots, Inc.
By Gloria Averbuch and Nancy Clark, authors of Food Guide for Women's Soccer Women’s World Cup Nutrition Tip Tuesday! Although nutritionists recommend eating a wholesome diet based on grains, fruits, and vegetables, some soccer athletes eat a diet with too many sweets and treats. According to Food Guide for Women’s Soccer, if you have a junk-food diet, you may be able to correct this imbalance by eating more wholesome foods before you get too hungry. Athletes who get too hungry (or who avoid carbohydrates) tend to choose sugary, fatty foods (such as apple pie, instead of apples). A simple solution to the junk-food diet is to prevent hunger by eating heartier portions of wholesome foods at meals. And once you replace sweets with more wholesome choices (including whole grain carbs), your craving for sweets will diminish. The key to balancing fats and sugars appropriately in your diet is to abide the following guidelines: 10% of your calories can appropriately come from refined sugar, if desired. (about 200-300 calories from sugar per day for most soccer players) 25% of your calories can appropriately come from (preferably healthful) fat. (about 450-750 calories from fat per day, or roughly 50-85 grams of fat per day) Stay tuned for more from The Women’s World Cup
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