Re­ac­tions vary to Sund­hage’s words

Los Angeles Times - - WOMEN’S WORLD CUP - By Kevin Bax­ter kevin.bax­ter@la­times.com

VAN­COU­VER, Canada— For­mer U.S. Coach Pia Sund­hage had some rough words for some of her for­mer play­ers be­fore her cur­rent team, Swe­den, played her for­mer one to score­less draw i na World Cup match Fri­day.

But much of that ap­peared to be forgotten by the time the game ended in a score­less draw, with Sund­hage and U.S. Coach Jill El­lis wrap­ping one an­other in a warmhug on the side­lines.

“Pia’s got ex­tra­or­di­nary char­ac­ter and I love hang­ing out with her,” said El­lis, Sund­hage’s as­sis­tant dur­ing her days with the U.S. na­tional team. “We’ll be friends for a long, long time.”

One per­son who wasn’t smil­ing, though, was mid­fielder Carli Lloyd. Sund­hage said Lloyd, who twice scored the win­ning goal in an Olympic fi­nal, would wilt on the field if she felt the coaches had lost faith in her.

“I’m not hurt or both­ered by what any­one says. But I was a bit more con­fused,” she told re­porters af­ter Fri­day’s game. “I’ve done noth­ing but re­spect Pia un­til the day she left. In 2008 she showed faith in me and I helped her win. In 2012 she had no faith in me and I still helped her win.”

Lloy­d­was benched for the open­ing game of the 2012 Lon­don Olympics, but started the next five, scor­ing twice in the fi­nal.

“I don’t change my game plan for any coach,” Lloyd con­tin­ued. “Whether the coach likes me or not, I still bring100%.”

Judg­ment call

Sev­eral teams have com­plained about in­con­sis­tent of­fi­ci­at­ing in this World Cup. And much of that prob­a­bly stems from FIFA’s at­tempt at in­clu­sion, which has meant us­ing ref­er­ees from coun­tries where the women’s game is still de­vel­op­ing.

Mex­ico, for ex­am­ple, had to set­tle for a draw in its first match with Colom­bia last week af­ter ref­eree Therese Neguel of Cameroon waved off a late goal by Char­lyn Cor­ral that video re­plays showed should have counted.

Neguel, of­fi­ci­at­ing her first World Cup game, re­lied on the first use of goal-line tech­nol­ogy in a women’s World Cup to award Mex­ico’s goal in that same game.

“I got the im­pres­sion that we have a group of ref­er­ees that are not familiar with the level of the com­pe­ti­tion, with the sce­nario, with the type of game that they are go­ing to face,” Mex­i­can Coach Leonardo Cuel­lar said. “On one play, they changed three times their de­ci­sion. Itwas al­ways on the edge.”

Coaches were told be­fore the tour­na­ment to be tol­er­ant of ref­er­ees’ mis­takes. But Cuel­lar said there is a no­tice­able dif­fer­ence in the qual­ity of of­fi­ci­at­ing for his team’s games and games played by Ger­many or Canada, whose sec­ond match drew highly re­spected ref­eree Bib­iana Stein­haus, the first fe­male to call men’s pro­fes­sional games in Ger­many.

“They’re not pet­ri­fied or won­der­ing what they’re go­ing to call,” said Cuel­lar, whose team is un­likely to ad­vance af­ter los­ing to Eng­land on Satur­day. “I might get rep­ri­manded for my com­ments, but teams work very hard to qual­ify and teams work very hard to be pre­pared and they want to be on even ground.”

Fox draws record au­di­ence

Fox’s cov­er­age of the U.S.-Swe­den game on Fri­day av­er­aged 4.5 mil­lion views, the largest U.S. tele­vi­sion au­di­ence ever for a group-stage match and the fourth-largest for any women’s World Cup game.

The net­work said Satur­day that the only women’s World Cup matches to draw larger au­di­ences were the 1999 and 2011 fi­nals and a 1999 semi­fi­nal.

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