Tom Sermanni released his roster for the upcoming Algarve Cup in Portugal, and Hope Solo will miss the tournament with a wrist injury that may require surgery.
The good news: This isn’t a new thing and it’s not hugely serious. The American No. 1 damaged ligaments in her left wrist some time ago but it makes sense to get her situation sorted out now. According to a release from U.S. Soccer, “with Women’s World Cup qualifying not until the end of 2014, the team medical staff advised that now would be the time to address the situation.” Goalkeepers Nicole Barnhart, Jill Loyden, and Ashlyn Harris will battle for the starting job next month in Portugal.
So, it’s not the worst thing in the world. But it does make you reflect on the U.S. sans Solo. She is the single most important player on the roster, and the one whose absence creates the biggest drop in talent. It’s both a matter of skill and experience. Consider this: In 2012, Solo started 31 of 32 games. Barnhart was between the pipes during a 4-0 victory over Sweden in the third-place match of the Algarve Cup.
The American women are deep enough that they don’t drop-off significantly skillwise if you replace one of the 10 field players with a second-stringer. They might have to play differently if, say, Abby Wambach wasn’t on the field, but they would be okay. You might be able to make a case that the center backs are thin, but I don’t think it’s as big as the drop from Solo to the No. 2 goalie.
So here’s hoping Solo returns successfully if and when she needs surgery. And let’s pray she doesn’t go down with something more serious. There isn’t much help coming on the horizon.
The game in 100 words (or less): Real Salt Lake stays alive in the hunt for a playoff berth in the Western Conference with a crucial 2-1 win over the Colorado Rapids. After falling behind early, RSL scored twice before halftime and held onto the lead for the rest of the match, moving within three points of the final playoff spot in the West. Real Salt Lake has three matches remaining, including a massive clash against the Portland Timbers, which will pretty much decide their season. For Colorado, it’s another year without playoff soccer.
[ MORE: FC Dallas clinches playoff berth ]
Three moments that mattered
16′ — Doyle heads Colorado into the lead — The former Premier League man gave the home side an early lead, thanks to a powerful header from quite a bit out. Sean St. Ledger played in a cross, where Doyle snapped a header into the top corner past Nick Rimando.
33′ — Joao Plata bends in the free kick — Trailing 1-0, Joao Plata drew RSL level with a brilliant free kick. Plata’s shot dipped over the wall and under the crossbar, as Clint Irwin stood helpless in goal for Colorado.
43′ — Mulholland fires home a volley to put RSL ahead — Luke Mulholland scored his first goal of the season, and it was a beauty. A corner kick popped out to the midfielder at the top of the box, as he rifled a shot off the bounce and into the side netting.
Man of the match: Luke Mulholland
Goalscorers: Doyle (16′), Plata (33′), Mulholland (43′)
Arsenal put on a superb performance against Manchester United today, flying out to a three-goal lead in the opening 20 minutes of the match.
[ RECAP: Arsenal 3-0 Manchester United ]
United was stunned by the fast-paced, free-flowing Arsenal attack, unable to recover from the Gunners’ early dominance.
All of this came on the heels of a disappointing loss to Olympiacos in the Champions League, after which many questioned manager Arsene Wenger and his side.
[ MORE: Three things we learned from Arsenal’s win vs. Manchester United ]
Following the big 3-0 win at the Emirates, Wenger praised his team’s spirit, saying there were outstanding performances throughout the side.
You go from Petr Cech up to Theo Walcott, and we had only outstanding performances. Sometimes we have that magic side in our game.
[Against Olympiacos] maybe we lacked a little bit of urgency and discipline, and that’s why we lost the game. But let’s not forget, last Saturday we won 5-2 at Leicester. Today we beat Man United 3-0.
[The players] have shown that we have an outstanding spirit in the squad. To respond the way we did after what happened to us, you need to have an exceptional spirit.
The Gunners’ performance today immediately silenced all the critics, as Wenger’s side put out on a display that many have been waiting for all season. The combination play of Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil and Theo Walcott was brilliant, as Santi Cazorla continued to impress in the center of the midfield.
Wenger’s teams have not always been known to show strong heart and resiliency, but that’s exactly what they showed today against a Manchester United side that was in great form. Now sitting second on the table, Arsenal continues to climb up the Premier League.