Norwegian Wood

The "No Front Page Spoilers or Results in Titles" rule has always been controversial.

Some guys insist on the right to wander around a soccer website without seeing actual soccer scores, while others say that if you don't want to see scores then...well, you know the drill.

In this case though it's a bit murkier, since not many people can watch a 7 am soccer game, so it's likely that an inordinate number of you will be recording Olympic soccer matches but would still like to waste a good portion of your workday hanging around BigSoccer.

So in this instance, and for the duration, I will be adhering to the Dan Loney "When in Doubt, Post Pictures of Cute Animals" policy and, while I don't have any new pictures of Thorbald the National Anthem Respecting Meerkat, I hope this will suffice:

The previous has hopefully been enough to knock the results of this morning's US Women's team opener against Norway off the front page and so I will now commence making actually relevant comments:

Last warning:

OK, here goes:

One big problem with the Spoiler Shield policy is that you don;t have a chance to use classic, once-in-a-lifetime headlines.

So let's just pretend this is the top of the page and the headline reads:


In regards to this match, I can only say that Pia Sundhage needs to understand that it's not 2006 any more. Not to disrespect Hope Solo but everybody knows she's old and her best days are behind her and if I had been in there, I would have made those saves, absolutely.

See, what you have to understand is that it's all about familiarity. A keeper develops a communication with her defenders, so that stuff like collisions in the box when both the defender and the keeper are going for the same ball, well, that stuff just doesn't happen when the GK and the backline defender are used to each other.

And you certainly don't see horrible backpass giveaways smack into the keeper's face. Nope, doesn't happen. You definitely need Briana Scurry back there running the show, organizing the defense, making sure everyone knows what's going on behind them, and I'm sorry if saying so offends some people.


Watch the first four minutes.

Then make a mental image of 50 red shirts packing the Norway penalty area.

Then fast forward to around the 65th minute when Norway takes their forwards out to give them some rest so they'll be fresh for a game that's in actual doubt somewhere down the line.

Then go do something useful because you now know the entire story.

You want serious technical analysis? Fine, here you go:

On the first goal, Norway launches a long floater into the box.

Solo hesitates, deciding whether she should come out or hold her line. Meanwhile, Laurie Chalupney is all over the attacker. All any defender is trying to do in that situation is keep the forward from getting a clean header.

So Chalupney doesn't really even play the ball, but rather turns her body and whacks into the hitter, creating a pretty fluffy little shot from the attacker.

All Solo had to do was stay on her line and catch it. Instead, she comes racing out - late - and then watches the ball float over her head.

On the second goal, Kate Margraff delivers possibly the nicest lead pass you'll see in this tournament; unfortunately, what she thinks she's doing is sending Solo a backpass.

It's a horrible mistake, but Solo makes it easy for the attacker by abandoning her line, to the point that she's actually outside the frame of the goal.

Meanwhile, two US defenders are closing fast and Wiik has to get the shot off right then or not at all. But Solo makes it easy for her by giving up so much of the goal.

2-0 Norway and they're not going to screw up a lead like that.

Norway, Norway, Norway. The team the Founding Mothers used to call "The Viking Bitches". The ones who gloated and did the little choo-choo train around the field when they beat the US Women.

The only other team to win an Olympic Gold Medal in Women's soccer.

Yeah, them.

They made Pia Sundhage's future employment prospects a lot shakier than they looked a few weeks ago.

Hope Solo's vaunted 50-some game undefeated streak? Forget that too.

And as for Pia's famed "We Don't Play Over-the-Top, Route One Soccer Around Here Any More" policy, well, maybe someone should tell the 9 ladies in white who spent the last 85 minutes of the match launching long balls to Natasha Kai.

It should be noted that, after coughing up the game by playing like the Grove City Iowa girls U12 rec team for the first five minutes, the US actually looked pretty good.

It's just tough to stake a team like Norway to a two goal lead and then spend the next 98 minutes trying to get through a penalty area as tightly packed as a Tokyo commuter train.

The good news is that the US will most likely win their next two game and advance to the medal round in spite of this morning's debacle.

The bad news?

If they play the way they did against Norway, it isn't going to matter