Ladies and gentlemen! Boys and girls! Children of all ages…MNUFC proudly brings to you this week’s rundown, breakdown, overview, or whatever your preference is for describing summarization on the two biggest cup-inspired tournaments in the WOOORLD!!! The 2023 Women’s World Cup! The 2023 Leagues Cup! The All Cup Weekly Round-Up!!!
The 2023 Women’s World Cup, Mate...meh
- A quick note to the reader: I’ll preface the following bullet point with this message…the World Cup isn’t intended to be, nor should it be, a walk in the park for any nation competing. And yes, some nations will obviously boast more talented rosters than others in the field, but that doesn’t mean a great team isn’t capable of taking down a roster of talented individuals…but, yeah…
- This Is US, supposedly: No, we’re not talking about Mandy Moore in prosthetics made to make her appear elderly. More specifically, this is US…as in the US Women’s national team. Yes, they are on to the Round of 16 game and set to face Sweden on Sunday. But, for the first time I can remember since developing a somewhat coherent comprehension of sports, the USWNT will enter the knockout stages of the World Cup with more doubts than hopes coming from the fan base. And, unfortunately, those doubts only grew after the squad’s last group-stage match the other day, that being a 0-0 draw against Portugal. While simply qualifying for the post-Group rounds is the ultimate goal, this will only be the second time in its history that the US women haven’t won their group outright. So, yeah, you could say that’s a bit unexpected on a team that’s flush with talent.
- More Cringe Than Calming: Some people may like to kick someone when they're down, but I wouldn’t include myself in that category. That said, Vlatko, my man…that performance against Portugal was, as my child would say, suss…or sussy…or, whatever. While obviously some of the onus falls on the actual players on the field, the team’s performance against Portugal was likely one of its sloppiest under Andonovski’s watch and has rightfully prompted more questions than answers following the team’s performance against the Netherlands. They had quality opportunities to score against the first-time qualifiers, which would probably change the tone of much of the talk surrounding the team had those attempts converted. But, they didn’t, and here we are. Criticism for the end result is fair, so seeing a good deal of conversation around what’s wrong with the squad’s tactics are, unfortunately, fair points to bring up at this juncture. But, leave it to a US legend to say, “hey, hold my beer…”
- Carli can’t even, you guys: Similar to John Lithgow’s character in Footloose, US women’s team legend Carli Lloyd will NOT have any of the smiling or dancing in this town! I’m mostly kidding about the comparison, because I do understand where she is coming from, especially because she was actually a part of this particular locker room of players. But, I’m thinking it’s a bit much to go in on former mates to that degree. While some would just chalk it up to her “competitive spirit” flaring up, I felt like it was a bit too harsh considering no member of the team expressed anything resembling satisfaction with the performance against Portugal. If anything, I commend captain Lindsey Horan for saying all the right things when addressing the matter, while carefully weaving some subtle shade back at Lloyd for providing more “noise” to an already noisy narrative around the team’s poor performances. But winning changes a lot of things, and if the US can do that moving forward, then hopefully some kumbayas can settle these matters and have Lloyd and her former teammates hugging it out and looking ahead to better days.
- Matilda’s avoid disaster Down Under: While New Zealand’s elimination from the women’s World Cup is disappointing for the hopes of a co-host country, an early exit for Australia would have felt catastrophic. While their shocking loss to Nigeria last week had the Aussie faithful holding their collective breaths after putting their qualification past the group stage in danger, their 4-0 drubbing of Canada allowed them to breathe easier. Having since clinched the top spot in Group B, the Matilda’s avoided a disaster on par with a chance encounter with any of the nightmare-inducing wildlife found in the outback, as they safely and soundly move on in the tourney to face Denmark on August 7.
- Soaree to hear, eh?: Unfortunately, our friends to the North aren’t quite on that same wave-length, as they become the first reigning Olympic champs to be eliminated in World Cup history.
The 2023 Leagues Cup of New-oodle-s
- First, the bad news: Kervin Arriaga’s season is over and, like all of you, I am truly bummed to hear the news. Arriaga’s stock has been rising since getting back on the field after a lingering injury, and that time was well-earned in the way he had played in recent weeks. Bummed for him. Bummed for us. Bummed for all colorful-hair dye enthusiasts. Get well, Swervin’ Kervin!
- Columbus is for the birds, hopefully: The Loons kick off their Round of 32 matchup with Columbus Crew at 7 p.m. and, while I’m a bit biased, I think we’re in for a tightly-contested match-up between two squads that have seen better form leading up to and in the midst of Leagues Cup play. In reality, though, I believe the pressure is all on the home side after getting a decisive 4-1 win over Club América. The Crew is talented, no doubt, but so are my favorite waterfowl. Columbus will be ready, but I think the Loons will be readiest to ruin some people’s weekends in thee state of Ohio.
- Also, Boxy’s back: And, now that there’s some context out there on the interwebs for why Boxy did that thing he did to get that red card against Puebla, I can’t even be mad. Never mess with a Kiwi’s kiwis, amiright?
- Turns Out You Can Messi With Texas: At least that’s what I see coming when Inter Miami meets Dallas FC in their Round of 16 matchup. The kid seems like he’s going to make it in this league after all. Get your tickets tod…nope, already gone.
- Keeper credit where credit is due: Lastly, a shout out to Charlotte FC goalkeeper Kristijan Kahlina. He was literally the embodiment of clutch in the net last night. Following a 0-0 draw in regulation, the keeper had three beautiful saves that showed intestinal fortitude at its finest and helped Charlotte an escape route out of the Round of 32 and onto the next. #respect