For my last USA v Russia match preview and in-game tweets, I made some geopolitical jokes. Then, during the match, the United States unleashed a missile attack on an airfield sometimes used by Russians in Syria. See, the Russian and Syrian governments are pals. So Russia wasn't super excited about the strike, and now they're sabre-rattling by sending some new navy ships to the area. Not close enough to home? Russia has also this week made some news with a renewed commitment to their interests in Nicaragua.
It all feels very '80s all of a sudden, and not just due to the return of mom jeans and Luke Skywalker. So, I'll try keep the international politics out of the sports for today's game. Still, I can't believe I didn't get more love for my The Hunt for Red October Russian Sub joke.
A Global Superpower
On the pitch, Russia isn't able to compete with the USWNT at all. They struggled to connect more than two consecutive passes, and rarely had possession in the attacking half. This Russian side has 99 days to get in better form before facing Italy in their opening match of the UEFA Women's Euro tournament. This afternoon may provide the low point in their journey, and losing so badly isn't good for the psyche.
As their frustration began to build during Thursday's match, they took a more physical approach and began fouling players up and down the field. Casey Short was clobbered several times, and had to leave the game wondering why the officials didn't do a better job of policing the action.
Police? What police?
As it turned out, policing of action wasn't just lax during the match. After the final whistle, a pitch invader sprinted towards Alex Morgan. To the shock of the players on the field, the woman hugged Morgan from behind before security managed to remove her. It's at least the second time in less than a year Morgan has been targeted by a fan on the field IN TEXAS.
Morgan is one of the most generous players with fans. She stays and signs every autograph, and is frequently stopped in airports or on the street for pictures and signatures. Most of the time, fans appreciate that their favorite players don't have to give of their time, so they keep their requests respectful and quick. Fans aren't entitled to any player interaction other than at the limited player appearances organized by the federation or the various leagues or the manufacturers of products the players endorse.
But pitch invaders represent a serious threat to the safety of players. It's an inexcusable failure to permit anyone on the field of play who isn't supposed to be there. It's fortunate that this individual wasn't malicious, but the next one might be. Let's hope there is no next time.
BOLD (BAD) Prediction:
USA 5-0 Russia
I somehow thought Russia would find a goal while giving up six in the first match, but barring some crazy lapse defending a set piece or a bad foul in the box that results in a Russian penalty kick, I can't see Russia getting near the US goal.
I'd expect Ashlyn Harris to get the start between the pipes and to see most (if not all) the players who'd been stuck on the bench on Thursday. Fans will want to see more of Rose Lavelle, but fans of the Boston Breakers might prefer that she not play the better part of two matches in four days, with the NWSL season opener coming next weekend.
But c'mon, who wouldn't want to see more of this?