Featured Matches
Previous
Arsenal
Besiktas
1
0
FT
Leg 2Aggregate: 1 - 0
Game Details
Athletic Bilbao
Napoli
3
1
ESPNDeportes FT
Leg 2Aggregate: 4 - 2
Game Details
Bayer Leverkusen
FC Copenhagen
4
0
ESPN3 FT
Leg 2Aggregate: 7 - 2
Game Details
Aston Villa
Leyton Orient
0
1
FT
Game Details
Birmingham City
Sunderland
0
3
FT
Game Details
Stoke City
Portsmouth
3
0
FT
Game Details
Burton Albion
Queens Park Rangers
1
0
FT
Game Details
Arsenal
Besiktas
1
0
FT
Leg 2Aggregate: 1 - 0
Game Details
Athletic Bilbao
Napoli
3
1
ESPNDeportes FT
Leg 2Aggregate: 4 - 2
Game Details
Bayer Leverkusen
FC Copenhagen
4
0
ESPN3 FT
Leg 2Aggregate: 7 - 2
Game Details
Ludogorets Razgrad
Steaua Bucuresti
1
0
ESPN3 FT
Leg 2Aggregate: 1 - 1
Game Details
Malmo FF
SV Salzburg
3
0
ESPN3 FT
Leg 2Aggregate: 4 - 2
Game Details
Aston Villa
Leyton Orient
0
1
FT
Game Details
Birmingham City
Sunderland
0
3
FT
Game Details
Bradford City
Leeds United
2
1
FT
Game Details
Burton Albion
Queens Park Rangers
1
0
FT
Game Details
Stoke City
Portsmouth
3
0
FT
Game Details
Los Angeles Galaxy
DC United
4
1
LIVE 88'
Game Details
León
Herediano
1
1
FT
Game Details
Municipal
Pachuca
3
7
FT
Game Details
Cobresal
General Díaz
2
2
FT
Leg 2Aggregate: 3 - 4
Game Details
Independiente Terán
Trujillanos
1
1
FT
Leg 2Aggregate: 2 - 1
Game Details
Libertad
Nacional Potosí
3
0
FT
Leg 2Aggregate: 3 - 1
Game Details
River Plate
Universidad Católica
3
0
FT
Leg 2Aggregate: 4 - 0
Game Details
Internacional
Bahia
0
2
FT
Leg 1
Game Details
Alianza Lima
Barcelona
0
0
FT
Leg 2Aggregate: 0 - 3
Game Details
Atlético Nacional
Deportivo La Guaira
1
0
FT
Leg 2Aggregate: 2 - 1
Game Details
Atletico Rafaela
Newell's Old Boys
2
3
FT
Game Details
Rosario Central
Godoy Cruz de Mendoza
0
1
FT
Game Details
River Plate
Defensa y Justicia
3
0
FT
Game Details
Estudiantes La Plata
Boca Juniors
3
1
FT
Game Details
Irapuato
U.A.N.L
2
1
FT
Game Details
Morelia
Celaya
3
0
ESPNDeportes FT
Game Details
Oaxaca
Chiapas
2
0
FT
Game Details
Atlas
Mineros de Zacatecas
1
0
FT
Game Details
Correcaminos
Santos
2
3
FT
Game Details
UNAM
Mérida
1
2
FT
Game Details
Zacatepec
Guadalajara
0
2
ESPNDeportes FT
Game Details
América RN
Atletico Paranaense
3
0
FT
Leg 1
Game Details
Cruzeiro
Santa Rita
5
0
FT
Leg 1
Game Details
Botafogo
Ceará
1
2
FT
Leg 1
Game Details
Bragantino
Corinthians
1
0
FT
Leg 1
Game Details
Coritiba FBC
Flamengo
3
0
FT
Leg 1
Game Details
Palmeiras
Atlético MG
0
1
FT
Leg 1
Game Details
LDU Quito
Deportivo Quito
3
0
FT
Game Details
FC Seoul
Pohang Steelers
0
0
FT-Pens
Leg 2Aggregate: 0 - 0FC Seoul win 3-0 on penalties
Game Details
Guangzhou Evergrande
Western Sydney Wanderers
2
1
FT
Leg 2Aggregate: 2 - 2
Game Details
Amazulu
Bloem Celtic
0
2
FT
Game Details
Mamelodi Sundowns
Orlando Pirates
0
3
FT
Game Details
Pretoria Univ
Free State Stars
0
1
FT
Game Details
Silver Stars
Kaizer Chiefs
0
2
FT
Game Details
SuperSport United
Mpumalanga Black Aces
1
2
FT
Game Details
Saprissa
Santos
Postp
Game Details
Carmelita
Club Sport Uruguay
2
0
FT
Game Details
Cartagines
Perez Zeledon
Postp
Postponed - now being played Sun, Aug 31
Game Details
Antigua
Marquense
0
1
FT
Game Details
Petapa
Coatepeque
Postp
Game Details
Vida
Marathon
3
1
FT
Game Details
Next

Serie A season preview: AS Roma

AS Roma 11 hours ago
Read
Aug 20, 2008

U.S. faces explosive Brazilian offense

For all the sturm-und-drang leading up to the Olympic gold-medal match, the United States women's soccer team has one last tempest to reckon with -- a Brazilian team hell-bent on capturing its first title.

On Thursday at 9 a.m. ET, the U.S. will once again attempt to excavate the legendary, if not somewhat archaic, "golden girls of the summer" trademark performance.

Mia Hamm now stands as an epochal memory, and Kristine Lilly, Briana Scurry and Abby Wambach of the 2004 reign have faded into the backdrop of the team's latest run for a world championship.

Yet one doesn't have to look far to find the two remaining original "golden girls," Kate Markgraf and captain Christie Rampone, who continue to shore up the U.S. back line since their first days in 1998. Remarkably, Markgraf and Rampone are just settling into the prime of their playing careers, but they are also the gatekeepers responsible for ushering in the next generation -- led by Heather O'Reilly, Carli Lloyd and Natasha Kai.

Now the giant spotlight of the Olympics will travel to downtown Beijing to the Workers' Stadium, coming to rest squarely on Rampone and Markgraf's defensive troops. All eyes should be on the quintet -- rounded out by Heather Mitts, Lori Chalupny and keeper Hope Solo -- as the U.S. defense prepares to face one of the most explosive offenses in the world: Brazil, better known as the queen of Joga Bonito.

U.S. women's schedule
U.S. vs. Brazil
Thursday
Beijing Workers' Stadium, Beijing, China
9 a.m. ET

The "showdown" between the United States and Brazil might as well be a euphemism for the bitter catfight that is likely to ensue between the two sides, with more than just a gold medal at stake.

How could the Americans forget the shadow of a team the Brazilians left behind in the 2007 World Cup, as Marta and her teammates romped to a 4-0 win through a tattered U.S. defense?

No, the Americans might forgive, but they'll never forget. "[Those are] not good memories," Shannon Boxx said about the World Cup debacle.

With the United States and Brazil each entering the final game with a prolific 11 goals apiece, the championship will boil down to which squad can do its best imitation of the Great Wall of China.

"Playing a perfect game for any team I think is impossible," Lori Chalupny said. "We're playing a fantastic team, and we're going to have to play well, but we're excited."

Rampone had her own account of what it'd take to shut down Brazil: "We're going to have to stay tight as a unit, play as a full team once again, stay compact and know where they are at all times."

But as anyone who has watched Brazil knows, predictability is not the Brazilians' strong suit. Coach Pia Sundhage should consider converting Heather Mitts and Christie Rampone into marking backs to rein in Marta and Cristiane -- otherwise, the attacking duo will slice up even a tightly knit U.S. zone defense just like in 2007.

The good news? Hope Solo is playing world-class soccer and has shown great confidence in dealing with difficult balls, whether on the ground or in the air. "I think she's played great," said defender Lori Chalupny. "She's made some really big saves for us. It seems like every game she makes an amazing play. She's definitely one of our strong players and we'll need her in the final I'm sure."

Sundhage will be hailed for making a brilliant strategic move by giving reserve Lori Chalupny the role of attacking defender; left free to roam up the wing, Chalupny takes the U.S. counterattack to town nearly every time she possesses the ball.

The U.S. also cannot afford to underestimate Daniela, Brazil's itinerant midfielder moonlighting as striker. Shannon Boxx will have to rely on her mobility and tackling savvy in order to contain Brazil's third offensive weapon.

Unless Carli Lloyd can return to form with her 30-yard bullets, which she demonstrated in the lead-up to the Olympics, the Americans will continue to rely on peripheral midfielders Heather O'Reilly and Lindsay Tarpley to unsettle young Brazilian keeper Barbara.

Even without Lloyd's usual shooting prowess, the U.S. women have evolved into one of the most versatile scoring machines: all-for-one and one-team-for-all. The U.S. women have seemingly inherited a wealth of scoring riches in absence of Abby Wambach, and the Brazilian defense may simply not be able to withstand the deep attack an 11-woman offense brings. Nonetheless, the U.S. cannot afford to let up on a relentless 90-minute attack.

Jorge Barcellos' Brazil team looked equally vulnerable as the U.S. in the opening minutes of its quarterfinal game against Germany, making one blunder after the next. But just like the Americans against Japan, Brazil dominated the rest of the match, making the German team look like oversized stick figures in slow motion.

For all the progress made by the United States, the explosiveness and mastery of the ball by the Samba Queens in the quarterfinals was a stunning demonstration of why Brazil is still the team to beat.

And if for some reason the U.S. women fail against Brazil, there's hope on the horizon in the form of a new professional league, Women's Professional Soccer, which will announce its allocation draft following the Olympics.

"I'm excited that the league is coming back. I think it's going to do well no matter what, because the U.S. is ready for another league," said Shannon Boxx. "I'm excited for it because I'm a product of the old league. To be able to have our national-team coaches go out locally and see great games and find some new players, to keep the tradition of the U.S. national team top-ranked, that's great."

For once, U.S. women might throw tradition out the window, and follow the lead of their quirky Swedish coach, Pia Sundhage, who won't relent until the beautiful game becomes firmly entrenched in the United States, too.

Lindsey Dolich is a contributor to ESPN The Magazine and covers the U.S. women's national team for ESPNsoccernet. She can be reached at soccerdols@gmail.com.

Comments

Use a Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook name, photo & other personal information you make public on Facebook will appear with your comment, and may be used on ESPN's media platforms. Learn more.