Monday, June 27, 2011

HIO: WWC 2011 Players to Watch

Yesterday morning, U.S. time, the 2011 Women's World Cup kicked off in Germany. The powerhouse host nation are looking to win their third WWC in a row, after winning the trophy in 2003 and 2007. However, the United States and others are looking to derail Germany's road to the final.

The 16-team tournament is comprised of 4 groups, containing 4 teams. Yesterday, Group A kicked off their first set of matches. In the first game, France topped a rather surprisingly sluggish Nigerian side, 1-0. The second and final match of the day proved to be more of an exciting one. The host and tournament favorite, Germany, fought to a 2-1 victory over Canada. Germany jumped out to an early lead in the 1st half as Christine Sinclair struck a beautiful free kick from about 20 yards out late in the second half for Canada. The Germans held on the for lead in front of a sold out 73,000 in Berlin.

Every match of the 3-week tournament is being carried by ESPN. The United States open up their group play on Tuesday at 12:15 p.m. ET against North Korea. For a complete schedule of tournament play, click here.

  Top 5 Players to Watch

While Germany are the favorites in this tournament and perhaps they comprise the best team, there are several players to watch throughout the Women's World Cup. In no particular order, here are my top 5: 

Marta, FW, Brazil
The FIFA Women's Player of the Year for the past five years in a row, Marta is the total package. Crafty with the ball, quick, and deadly inside the box, she is the heart of the Brazilian team. The Pele of the women's game, if she can find her form early and the traditionally Brazilian defense can stay strong, Brazil will make it far in this tournament. 

Hope Solo, GK, United States
While she has never been the most popular player to those familiar with women's soccer, Hope Solo is easily the top goalkeeper in the world. With quick hands and cat-like reflexes, Solo was kicked off the team at the World Cup in 2007 after being benched. If she can keep her outbursts in check, which all signs point to that she will, she should have an excellent tournament. 

Kerstin Garefrekes, MF, Germany 
Standing at close to 6 feet tall, Garefrekes is the embodiment of the physical German midfielder. She is surprisingly quick with the ball at her feet given her height and finds herself in excellent goal-scoring opportunities even as a midfielder. She is just one of the many quality players Germany has and will rely on in this tournament. 

Kelly Smith, MF, England
While not traditionally a power in the women's game, England are driven by the physical and well-passer that is Kelly Smith. A solid figure in the middle of the park with a keen eye for making the killer pass, Smith is most likely playing in her last World Cup at the age of 33. 

Lisa DeVanna, FW, Australia
I, for one, would love to see DeVanna and Marta in a foot-race. DeVanna is a pacy dribbler at-heart and are the Aussie's best attacking threat. If they can spring her in-behind the opposition's back-line, count on her burying the ball in the back of the net. 

For more information on the 2011 Women's World Cup in Germany, visit

In addition to serving as President of the Sport Management Student Union (SMTSU), Kevin Giordano is a 2nd year Sport Management major at Drexel University with industry experience working in men's and women's professional soccer and collegiate athletics. To contact or connect with Kevin, you can follow him on Twitter (@KevinGiordano) or connect with him here on LinkedIn.

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