Poor Sweden, always one of the best teams in the world, always in the hunt, but never quite able to take home a major trophy, and therefore overshadowed by something. This year’s version – with two of the best players in the world in Lotta Schelin and Caroline Seger on display – rolled to victory over South Africa in their first game, but all the talk will be about Portia Modise and her 60th minute goal from midfield that will likely be the goal of the tournament when all is said and done. Of course, there’s good reason for all the talk about Modise, she’s a fantastic story that’s worth our time.
1) South Africa – especially Modise – deserves a standing ovation, win, lose, or draw
Modise, born in Soweto, is one of the most celebrated players in South African women’s history, a finalist for FIFA Player of the Year in 2005, and played professionally in Denmark. But last year, as this story tells us, she found herself on the outside of the South African side after she stood up to what she thought was unfair treatment (sound familiar, WPS fans?) from former coach Augustine Makalakalane. So, basically, they have to worry about crap that none of the top teams have to worry about it, and making it this far is quite an accomplishment, no matter how they got here. And the goal was stupendous.
2) Meanwhile, Sweden looked pretty darn good
The Swedes took their foot off the accelerator a little after a three-goal outburst in the first 25 minutes, but that’s probably to be expected. There are very few weaknesses, a red-hot goal scorer in Lotta Schelin (as I picked her to win the Golden Boot, I was a little upset they didn’t leave her on to get a couple of more, but I understand), and appear to be pretty healthy. They did lose Maria Hammarstom early, but I’m a big fan of her replacement, Antonia Goransson. Heck, we even got a Kosovare Asllani cameo at the end. It remains to be seen what will happen when the Swedes come under some pressure, which they surely will against Japan (and probably against Canada, too), but they took care of business in the opener.
3) Goalkeeping will still be an issue at another major tournament
I really could have put this in any game today, so I’m sorry to stick the keepers out here, but even Hope Solo let in a questionable goal today, so it doesn’t seem like anyone is safe. On the plus side, we should see more goals, but there’s no reason why you shouldn’t test keepers if you get the chance. You never know.