Brazilians crush US
Scurry can't stop tide; Solo angry
HANGZHOU, China - The way Brazil and sensational striker Marta played, it didn't matter who was in goal for the United States.
Marta scored two goals and the Brazilians put on a dazzling display of soccer yesterday, outhustling the Americans at nearly every turn to cruise to a 4-0 victory in the Women's World Cup semifinals.
The Brazilians will play in their first final Sunday against defending champion Germany.
"If you asked me how I do that, I can't explain," Marta said, even after watching TV replays of her goals. "Things happen very quickly during the match, and afterward I start thinking: 'How do I do that?' "
That's what American goalie Hope Solo was asking. Angry she was replaced for the critical game in favor of veteran Briana Scurry, Solo lashed out at US coach Greg Ryan.
"It was the wrong decision, and I think anybody that knows anything about the game knows that," Solo said. "There's no doubt in my mind I would have made those saves . . . You have to live in the present. And you can't live by big names. You can't live in the past."
Ryan defended his decision and Scurry, who made her 164th appearance for the United States.
"I don't have any regrets about that," he said. "I think Bri played a great game."
He stressed that he didn't think the switch affected the game.
Ryan might have been right. The Brazilians attacked from the start, and the Americans were unable to keep pace as their 51-match unbeaten streak ended with their worst loss in a World Cup match.
The US will play Norway for third place Sunday.
The opening score came on an own-goal in the 20th minute, when American defender Leslie Osborne headed a corner behind Scurry. Lucky or not, the Brazilians were off and running and proved to be better in every facet: clever triangulated passes, counterattacks, audacious moves, and blistering shots.
"They played like a team," American striker Abby Wambach said. "I've never seen them play so well. They brought all of their heart and all of their soccer to the table.
"It's a hard loss to swallow," she added. "More than anything it's just heartbreaking, it's hard to go down like this."
Marta made it 2-0 in the 27th minute to add to Brazil's growing confidence. She evaded a half-dozen players and cracked a left-footed shot from 15 yards that hugged the ground and beat Scurry diving to her left. She got her left hand on the ball but couldn't stop it.
"The first goal that Marta scored was a great goal," Ryan said. "Briana in that situation gives us the best chance to stop that shot because of her quickness and speed. If you look at the rest of the match, there is nothing she could have done about any of the other goals."
Scurry, the 36-year-old former UMass star who stopped a deciding penalty kick to give the US the 1999 World Cup, was under intense scrutiny. Ryan named her to start just 24 hours beforehand, benching Solo, who had allowed only two goals in four World Cup games - and none in almost 300 minutes.
Any hope the US had was snuffed out a few seconds into first-half injury time when Shannon Boxx picked up her second yellow card, leaving the Americans a player short. The foul was marginal, but Boxx lunged on a tackle trailing just a step behind the Brazilian attackers.
"I'm not sure about the call on Boxx," Scurry said. "Brazil's a great team. You can't go down a man against a team like Brazil; they are going to tear you up. Unfortunately, that's what happened."
Brazil's victory was only its second over the United States in 23 games.