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I will have two fillings, I think

By Bryan Rosenbaum
Arizona Summer Wildcat
July 7, 1999
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Arizona Summer Wildcat

Bryan Rosenbaum

Now that we're in the middle of a week-long break between the semifinals and finals of the Women's World Cup, it's time to realize something - the United States is not going to walk over China in the Rose Bowl on Saturday.

The teams have played three times in 1999, with China winning two of the meetings. China may not have a Mia Hamm or an ad campaign with Nike, but they are a very good team that is every bit capable of upstaging the U.S.

China hammered defending champions Norway 5-0 on Sunday, while the Americans beat Brazil 2-0 in the other semi, thanks to some incredible goalkeeping by Briana Scurry. A goal by Cindy Parlow early in the game and a penalty kick by Michelle Akers in the 80th minute helped cover up some of the problems the American offense had, while Scurry kept anything and everything out of her goal.

For once, it was the USA's opponents who made the early mistake, giving them a 1-0 lead. The Brazilian keeper missed the cross and allowed Parlow to head it in. In the USA's earlier wins over Nigeria and Germany, they gave up the early goal but came back with 7-1 and 3-2 wins, respectively.

If they allow China to get on the board early, it might be lights-out.

I have enjoyed watching the Women's World Cup, but the gap between the good teams and the others is huge. This is okay if you want to see one team score a lot of goals and just crush the other team, but not if you want the underdog to pull off the upset. When they set up the draw for the tournament, it was tailor-made for a U.S.-China final. The chance that they wouldn't be playing for the championship was very unlikely.

Obviously, it will take some time before the Women's World Cup can match the men's version in terms of quality, excitement and hype. While the American women will hold a huge advantage playing in front of a sold-out crowd at the Rose Bowl, they have also shown some nerves playing in front of such enormous crowds.

Still, when they are at their best, like they were against Nigeria, the American women are as exciting to watch as any other team, male or female, in the world.

Just as long as Mia Hamm, the world's greatest player, doesn't suffer the same problems- seizures and nervous fits- Brazil's superstar forward, Ronaldo, faced hours before the final against France last summer.