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updated: 7/7/2011 8:47 PM

World Cup demands better performance

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  • United States coach Pia Sundhage, pats Amy Le Peilbet after she was substituted during Wednesday's Group C match between Sweden and the United States. Sweden won 2-1 to win the group.

      United States coach Pia Sundhage, pats Amy Le Peilbet after she was substituted during Wednesday's Group C match between Sweden and the United States. Sweden won 2-1 to win the group.
    Associated Press

 
 

They probably didn't need it, but the United States women's soccer players got another reminder that their never-say-die attitude and athleticism aren't enough to win World Cups anymore.

Fortunately for them, Wednesday's 2-1 loss to Sweden came in group play of the 2011 World Cup. And because they had won their first two group-play games, the Americans were only playing for quarterfinal seeding, not their tournament lives.

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But the first United States group-play loss in six World Cups is an indicator that this team has weaknesses: in the back line, where Crystal Lake native Amy LePeilbet had a game she'd love to forget; and up front, where the Americans settled for way too many shots from distance in a furious attempt to equalize.

Because they couldn't get a result Wednesday, the United States gets Group C's second seed and a date with Cup co-favorite Brazil this weekend instead of Australia.

Brazil is beatable, but the Americans will have to play better than they did Wednesday.

Tie game:

What's with all the ties?

Blame a lack of scoring.

With a 2-4-12 record, the Fire is just two games from tying the all-time MLS record for draws in a season, and just a game past the midway point of the season the club looks like a good bet to blast the record.

That's two ties in every three games after Saturday's 1-1 match at Chivas USA.

"I want to say that I'm really disappointed in myself," Fire forward Dominic Oduro told MLSsoccer.com after the match. "I created a lot of chances and I probably could've done more in terms of putting balls in the back of the net."

The Fire has plenty of company, however.

Across the league there have already been 20 games that ended 0-0 -- the Fire has had four scoreless games -- breaking the record set in 2009.

The Red Bulls aren't far behind the Fire with 10 ties, and even the league's top team, the Los Angeles Galaxy, has nine.

Scoring is up from last year's 2.46 goals a game (that's both teams combined), but barely at 2.49.

The Fire is one of the teams bringing the average down, scoring just 19 goals in 18 games.

Maybe it's bad luck, maybe it's something cyclical or maybe there's a lack of quality finishing.

But something has to give sometime, doesn't it? The Fire can't keep tying games, can it?

"We're really frustrated right now," Oduro said. "I think we are doing so well defensively and offensively and right now we just want to win games. ... We're not losing, but a win would be really nice."

The Fire reserves notched a 5-0 victory in Tuesday's game against the FC Dallas reserves. Maybe someone can get that to translate to the first team.

oschwarz@dailyherald.com

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