The semi-final round of the Women's World Cup football (soccer) tournament concludes Thursday in Hangzhou, China, with Brazil seeking its first title at the event. But as VOA's Jim Stevenson reports, heavily favored United States is standing in the way of the South American team.
Three months ago near New York, the teams met in a very physical friendly game that the United States won, 2-0. The Americans also prevailed in their two previous Women's World Cup meetings and dominated in three Olympic tournament games against Brazil.
Because of the schedule and a brief disruption by a typhoon, the U.S. women received one more day of rest before their semi-final.
Brazilian coach Jorge Barcellos knows that fact, coupled with the USA's deep talent, will make the game difficult for his team.
"America is a top team, the same as Brazil," Barcellos said. "They also have the most favorite players. The only difference is because of the typhoon, we rested one day less than the Americans. You know, 24 hours is very important for the football players."
Beyond the extra rest day, U.S. coach Greg Ryan hopes the referee calls early fouls on the physical Brazilians.
"Hopefully the referees will protect us better than they have so far in this tournament," Ryan said. "But I think that is going to be a very important key to this game. Whether or not the referee is going to caution players from bad challenges from behind, from multiple challenges from the same player. And if they do, I think Brazil will have to find a different tactic to stop us. Because right now, their primary tactic has been through fouling."
The United States is ranked number one in the world. Brazil is the lowest-ranked semi-finalist at number eight. The Women's World Cup champion will be determined in Shanghai on September 30.