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Showing posts from June, 2015

USA Through to World Cup Semis with Win over China

With some of their best soccer in the 2015 Women’s World Cup, the USA has advanced to the semifinals, winning 1-0 over China in Ottawa on June 26, the matchup a rematch of the 1999 Women’s World Cup final.
In the age old struggle of youth versus experience, experience won the day today. The oldest team in the tournament, the United States did not have too much trouble securing the win against the young China team.
From the get-go, the USWNT played with a high amount of energy, and would continue in that manner for most of the match. Led by Amy Rodriquez, who started the match up front for the US, the USA pressed high and forced turnover after turnover from the China defense. In the second minute of the game, the US almost had a goal as Rodriquez was one-on-one with the Chinese keeper, but her attempted chip shot went well wide of the net. Several shots from Alex Morgan and Carli Lloyd kept China goalkeeper Wang Fei busy in the first 45.
As the teams huddled before the start of the sec…

#GameDayEve Toronto FC II Edition

by Marissa Blackman

Just a day after the second victory of the season, Wilmington Hammerheads FC is soon to embark on another match against Toronto FC II.

This game will be somewhat of a blast from the past for Hammerheads fans. Last season, Wilmington Hammerheads FC and Toronto FC were affiliated, so players who spent time in Wilmington last year , such as Quillian Roberts, Jordan Hamilton, Manny Aparicio, and Mark Anthony Kaye, could be featured in the Toronto FC II lineup.

Although there is a four game difference in games played, the Hammerheads are one place above Toronto as of yesterday. Toronto has a 2-5-3 record over ten games. The Hammerheads have a 2-7-5 record over fourteen games. Wilmington and Toronto have had some similar results. Both clubs have tied with the Rochester Rhinos. The two clubs have been defeated by St. Louis FC, and each club has been one goal away from defeating Charleston.

Toronto is a team that can't be underestimated. Although there have been some b…

One Down, Three To Go

by Marissa Blackman

Wilmington Hammerheads FC have successfully completed the first match of a four games in nine day section of this season's schedule. Today, the Wilmington club played FC Montreal in Stade Saputo, the same stadium shared by Montreal Impact of MLS.

There were a few instances in the first half when FC Montreal came dangerously close to scoring, but Hammerheads goal keeper Andre Rawls did not take any chances. He dived for the ball several times, denying Montreal of any goals in the first half. The Hammerheads did put in a few chances in the early minutes of the game, but they were not nearly as dangerous as Montreal's. Although Montreal seemed much more likely to score, the Hammerheads were the first team to get on the scoreboard. After receiving a well placed cross from Christian Bassogog, Brian Ackley sent the ball cascading to the back of the net from a header in the 37th minute.

In the second half, Montreal really pressed the Hammerheads. For most of the h…

#GameDayEve FC Montreal Edition

by Marissa Blackman

Tomorrow, Wilmington Hammerheads FC begins a nine day stint that includes four games. The first match will be held approximately 957.4 miles away from home in Stade Saputo against USL newcomers FC Montreal.

The Montreal Impact affiliate is the only team below the Hammerheads in the Eastern Conference USL standings. Both clubs have only won once this season, and both clubs have more losses than any other result. Both clubs are also arguably moving in the right direction. Each club has transitioned from losing by three or four goals to losing by one goal or tying. The next logical step in the progression is to begin winning.

Victory in this match would put Montreal in tied eleventh place with the Hammerheads while a Wilmington victory would boost the Hammerheads up to tenth.

The upcoming run of back to back games could be a turning point for the Hammerheads. Although the schedule will be a test of endurance for the club, it also provides opportunity to gain twelve po…

USWNT Advances to Quarters over 10-Woman Colombia

Underdogs Colombia are eliminated from the 2015 Women’s World Cup after a solid but underwhelming US side won 2-0 in Edmonton on June 22.

A fairly even performance from both teams, the US was aided in their victory with two penalty calls and a red card for Colombia goalkeeper Catalina Perez, which forced Colombia to play with 10 women for nearly the entire second half.

An early first half goal by Abby Wambach was ruled offside, and the first ten minutes saw a confident Colombia side dominating possession and forcing many turnovers. In the first 45 minutes, both teams were having trouble finding space in the final third. The US, despite having several good chances off set pieces, failed to capitalize on the height advantage they had over the Colombian defense. Colombia’s forwards, in the “samba futbol” kind of style, were very technically focused and attempted many one-on-one dribbles, which were usually thwarted by the strong defensive effort we’ve come to see in the US during this to…

#GameDayEve Another Richmond Kickers Edition

by Marissa Blackman

Tomorrow, the Hammerheads play the Richmond Kickers, and I am so excited! There are some teams in USL that I watch simply because the Hammerheads are playing them, and there are other teams that I watch voluntarily. Richmond is one of the later. When the Hammerheads have bye weeks, I tune into Richmond games. I look forward to watching my top two favorite USL teams compete.

This is the third time Wilmington and Richmond play each other this season. The first game happened was in Wilmington. It was the first match of the season for both clubs, and it ended in a 2-2 draw. The second match happened in Richmond two weeks later, and the Kickers won 3-0.

Richmond are third in the table, and the Hammerheads are eleventh. Do I think that the Hammerheads are going to loose? Not necessarily. I am a firm believer that, with soccer, anything can happen. A team doesn't just appear in eleventh place, but that rank is not completely indicative of the club's ability. The H…

USA Advance to Rd. of 16 via Wambach Goal

The US Women’s National team progressed to the Round of 16 of the 2015 Women’s World Cup with a 1-0 win over Nigeria on June 16, with Abby Wambach scoring the match’s only goal in Vancouver.
The USA finishes the group stage in first place of Group D, with a total of 7 points. Second-placed Australia (4 points) secured a spot in the Round of 16 with a 1-1 draw over Sweden, who sits third with 3 points. Depending on results to come, Sweden could technically still advance, but (according to people who can do these math things better than myself) it seems like unlikely that they will. Nigeria finishes last with 1 point and has been eliminated.
Abby Wambach and Alex Morgan started up front for the US, and the former (despite looking fatigued throughout the second half) stayed on the full 90 minutes.
The first half started with a strong US performance, and a string of early set pieces led to a goal by Julie Johnston in the 8th minute which would be waved offside. Megan Rapinoe, seemingly ve…

Almost

by Marissa Blackman

Tonight's match between Wilmington Hammerheads FC and New York Red Bulls II had the potential to be a high scoring one for both clubs. The game produced a total of eighteen shots.

In the beginning of the match, the Hammerheads retained possession and seemed to have the best opportunities for goals. By the one third mark of the half, the Red Bulls began getting more touches. Ten minutes later both clubs made serious attempts at goals within just seconds of each other. That sequence of events really describes the match. The Hammerheads had long passing sequences and several shots. New York was able to intermittently disrupt those passing sequences and take shots of its own.

Both teams were just shy of the goal numerous times, and both goalies were extremely vigilant. In a match where eighteen shots were attempted, there was a single goal scored. At the end of the first half, I wrote in my notes that it was the kind of match where if either team was able to sneak …

Chances Few in USA-Sweeden Scoreless Draw

Defense was key to both sides as they drew 0-0 in Winnipeg in the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup.In Match Day 2 of Group D fixtures, the USA stays on top of the group with 4 points followed by Australia with 3 points gained by defeating Nigeria 2-0 on June 12. Sweden is third with 2 points and Nigeria sits last with 1 point. In preparation for writing these match reviews, I always type down my thoughts and notes as I watch a soccer match. I noted after about 10 minutes of the first half of USA-Sweden that I could see the match ending 0-0. A common theme in sports, so they say, is that the tone of the game is set very early on. While that seems to be the case in most sports, soccer is special because the entire script of a match can be flipped in an instant. Moments of magic can happen when least expected, and is one of the reasons that I (and many others, I’d imagine) love soccer so much.
Nevertheless, looking at the two teams on the field and seeing how the game began in those first few…

#GameDayEve New York Red Bulls II Edition

by Marissa Blackman

This weeks opponent for Wilmington Hammerheads FC is New York Red Bulls II. New York is a club that has won 25% of its matches and has 13 points, just one point below the average  for the USL eastern conference.

With three wins, five ties, and four losses, the New York Red Bulls FC affiliate is an unpredictable club. Some of the variance could be contributed to the frequent changes to the starting lineup at the beginning of the season. The chart below shows how many players from the previous game's starting lineup was played in the next game by both Wilmington and New York.

Game New York Red Bulls II Wilmington Hammerheads FC 1à2 5 10 2à3 5 10 3à4 6 3 4à5 8 6 5à6 5 5 6à7 9 8 7

US Women Victorious in First 2015 WWC Match, But Wambach Quiet

Despite a shaky start to the first half, the US Women’s National Team now sits at the top of Group D with a 3-1 win over Australia in Winnipeg, with a brace from Megan Rapinoe and another from Christen Press (her first World Cup cap and first WC goal). Though, notably, none from captain Abby Wambach despite several good chances…
After the first set of Group D matches in the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup, the USWNT comes out on top of the group with three points after fellow Group D opponents Nigeria and Sweden drew 3-3 hours earlier in Winnipeg. The American Outlaws and other US fans were loud and proud throughout the match, effectively giving the USWNT a home team advantage despite playing over the northern border. 
In the early part of the first half, the US was very much on the back foot. Australia started the game out very dominant and aggressive, seen in the 4th minute in a brilliant volley by Emily Van Egmond which required a great save by Hope Solo (and the crossbar) to keep th…

USL Eastern Conference Progress Report

by Marissa Blackman

In writing about USL, I’ve had two reoccurring questions about almost every team. From the beginning of the season, I’ve been thinking about the playoffs.  Although every team in the eastern conference has completed 9-12 matches, it’s still a little early to say for sure which clubs will or will not make it above that red line. Nevertheless, I’d like to make a few predictions. Too often, I find myself thinking of clubs in terms that simply are not solid enough, so I set out to find a basis, beyond my opinions, to view teams in respects to each other and to predict where they will be at the end of the season.

I made two charts to compare each team and their prospects side by side. The chart below shows where each team stands currently and includes conference averages. In both charts, teams appear in order of their current USL standings

Team Current Points Percentage of Games Won Maximum Points Possible Rochester Rhinos 25 64% 76 Charleston Battery 23 50% 71 Richmon…