Before starting this article, I want to ask all of you to continue to pray for Coach Garry Ortner who is still fighting for his life in the Baton Rouge General Hospital's burn unit.
You can read the details about him in the article posted earlier. He has taken a step back and is on dialysis and needs our prayers more than ever.
Well, the opening ceremony went off without a hitch, and without our favored women's team who chose to rest instead of participate. Saturday's game with Columbia was held in Glasgow, Scotland which is four hours away from London!
Looking at their performance today, sitting out the ceremonies seems to have been a wise choice. The hungry U.S. Women's team made sure that it was the right call by destroying Columbia, 3-0, to punch a ticket to the quarterfinal round.
The U.S. took the lead with Megan Rapinoe's goal in the 33rd minute. The telling statistic, however, was the defense anchored by popular American goalie Hope Solo and defender Christie Rampone.
The American team-oriented defense held Columbia to only one shot on goal, proving that they are one of the teams to beat this Olympics. Solo is one of the best goalies in the Women's game, but if she isn't even tested, all the better.
The Americans pulled away locking the quarterfinal birth by scoring goals in the 74th minute with veteran forward Abby Wambach and in the 77th minute with midfielder Carli Lloyd's goal.
The U.S. next play on July 31 against the People's Republic of North Korea who made headlines in their match with Columbia when they left the field after noticing that the South Korean flag was displayed next to their names on the jumbo-tron. If the North Koreans win tonight's match, then they too will be going to the quarterfinals. The US-
North Korea game would then determine who goes as the #1 seed into the knock-out round. For many countries, that would mean everything, but the Americans should be put on cruise control to prevent injuries from happening.
Yet, I have a feeling that we are not going to see that here. North Korea has spent considerable effort trying to show the world that they are as strong a nation, if not stronger, with new president Kim Jong Un who took over for his dead father Kim Jong Il. You can be rest assured that all of North Korea's televisions will be watching that game intently.
Jong Un fired top military staff after the embarrassment of their failed missile test trying to show the world in April that they had the capabilities of using a nuclear bomb. What most people believe is that the missile test was Jong Un's attempt to show his people that he was as strong a leader as his father. I would hate to be North Korea's head coach SIN Ui Gun right now; a loss to the U.S. is not an option. If she does lose to America, the only way she could keep her job [assuming she won't be fired on the spot] is to beat Japan or win the gold medal.
I am sure that the American team is getting a lesson on global politics right now and is trying to determine if it is worth the risk of their ultimate goal to win the gold.
The U.S. took second in last year's Women's World Cup to Japan and is still hurting from it. I think that it will be a curious decision for American head coach Pia Sundhage who did some significant time as an assistant coach for China. Will she rest her starters or go full-strength? She will know fully what is at stake and that the North Korean's will play with an almost war-like attitude. Conventional wisdom would lead her to field her bench players giving them experience in a charged match. Still, she will have pressure to showcase our best women and show the captive American audience that we are global leaders in women's soccer.
A loss to North Korea would not hurt chances to win the gold but may be a negative in the fight to garner non-soccer fans in the States. That is the fun of being a head coach. I can't wait for the 31st and you can be sure I, along with 100 percent of North Korea, will be watching.
God Bless You.
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