Three favorites wait for berths to knockout round

Jun 13, 2015, 1:12 AM
United States head coach Jill Ellis and Sweden head coach Pia Sundhage embrace prior to FIFA Women's World Cup soccer action in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, Friday, June 12, 2015. (John Woods/The Canadian Press via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
(John Woods/The Canadian Press via AP)

WINNIPEG, Manitoba (AP) — The United States, Canada and Germany are all considered among the favorites in their groups at the Women’s World Cup.

Each won its first match and could have secured a place in the knockout stage with a victory in its second. But all three played to draws.

Defending champion Japan became the first to earn a spot in the next round, after defeating Switzerland 1-0 in the opener and Cameroon 2-1 on Friday in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Top-ranked Germany crushed Ivory Coast 10-0 in the opener, but played Norway to a 1-all tie on Thursday in Group B. Maren Mjelde scored the equalizer for Norway on a free kick in the second half.

“We lost track of our plan and when you’re up against strong opponents the score can very quickly become 1-1, and that’s what happened,” German coach Silvia Neid said about the match in Ottawa, Ontario.

Canada, favored in Group A as the hosts, played later that night to a storm-delayed scoreless draw against New Zealand — Canada coach John Herdman’s former team. That came after a 1-0 victory over China in the opening match in Edmonton, Alberta.

And the United States on Friday night played to a 0-0 tie with Sweden, led by former U.S. coach Pia Sundhage. The U.S. women had opened with a 3-1 victory over Australia in Group D, the so-called “Group of Death.”

“It was like two heavyweights going at it,” Ellis said of the match with Sweden.

The U.S. team’s final match of the group stage comes on Tuesday against Nigeria in Vancouver. Canada heads to Montreal to play the Netherlands on Monday night, after Germany faces Thailand in Winnipeg earlier in the day.

With four points apiece, all three teams look like they’ll get to the knockout stage — it just isn’t official.

On Saturday, two teams could also be assured spots in the next round. Brazil, which beat South Korea in the opener, faces Spain in Montreal, while France, a 1-0 winner over England, plays Colombia in Moncton, New Brunswick, on Canada’s far eastern coast.

Some other happenings at the World Cup:

BIG IN CANADA: The Canadian women are breaking records when it comes to viewers on Canadian television.

Preliminary data showed that the 2.3 million people watched Canada play New Zealand to a scoreless draw Thursday night on CTV, TSN and RDS. It broke the record for the most-watched Women’s World Cup match — breaking the record set just days before when Canada opened the World Cup with a 1-0 victory over China.

The U.S. women’s 3-1 victory over Australia was the most-watched non-Canadian group stage game ever with 526,000 viewers on TSN and RDS.

THE BEER COMES LATER: One of the reasons the U.S. match was so highly anticipated was because Sweden coach Pia Sundhage used to coach the U.S. women, and U.S. coach Jill Ellis was her assistant. The two are close friends.

Ellis described Sundhage as “a sit-down-have-a-beer kind of friend.”

“Pia’s got extraordinary character and I love hanging out with her,” Ellis said. “We’ll be friends for a long, long time.”

Now that the game is over, Sundhage was asked if she’d have a drink with pal Ellis.

“It will have to be after the World Cup,” Sunghage said.

RECAPPING FRIDAY: In addition to the U.S. team’s scoreless tie with Sweden, Australia defeated Nigeria 2-0 in the earlier match in Group D in Winnipeg. Japan defeated Cameroon 2-1 in Group C in Vancouver, while Switzerland beat Ecuador 10-1.

UP NEXT: Brazil plays Spain in Montreal followed by South Korea’s match against Costa Rica. Third-ranked France plays Columbia in Moncton, followed by England’s match against Mexico.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Three favorites wait for berths to knockout round