Wambach has US teammates’ support for yellow card criticism

Jun 24, 2015, 11:30 PM
Canada coach John Herdman, right, celebrates as Josee Belanger, back, is mobbed by her teammates af...
Canada coach John Herdman, right, celebrates as Josee Belanger, back, is mobbed by her teammates after scoring against Switzerland during the second half of the FIFA Women's World Cup round of 16 soccer action in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada on Sunday June 21, 2015. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP)
(Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP)

OTTAWA, Ontario (AP) — Abby Wambach need not apologize to her teammates, as far United States defender Meghan Klingenberg is concerned.

“Abby’s one of our leaders. She’s one of our captains, and she’s going to lead us through anything that we need to get through,” Klingenberg said, before the team practiced in Ottawa on Wednesday. “That’s not something that I think we really need to discuss.”

Klingenberg’s comments came a day after Wambach gave an apology to Fox Sports for questioning French referee Stephanie Frappart’s decision to issue yellow cards to American midfielders Megan Rapinoe and Lauren Holiday during a 2-0 win over Colombia on Monday. It was the second yellow cards for both, meaning they will have to sit out the Women’s World Cup quarterfinal against China on Friday.

“It seemed like (Frappart) was purposefully giving those yellows to maybe players that she knew were sitting on yellows,” Wambach had said.

In apologizing, Wambach called it wrong to suggest what the official was thinking.

“I’m not in the referee’s head, and that’s something I definitely take ownership of and apologize for,” she said.

Klingenberg had no issue with what Wambach initially said.

“Quite frankly, that’s Abby just having our teammates’ backs,” she said. “She wants them to play. I see no problem with that. And we’re moving forward.”

___

OVER/UNDER AND IN: The late goal surrendered by defending champion Japan was being talked about from Vancouver to Las Vegas.

Though the Nadeshiko advanced to the quarterfinal stage by holding on for a 2-1 win over the Netherlands on Tuesday night, Kirsten van de Ven scored for the Dutch in stoppage time when the ball glanced off goalkeeper Ayumi Kaihori’s right arm.

The goalie, who allowed Japan’s only other goal of the tournament against Cameroon in the group stage, put her gloves to her face in disbelief and said something to herself. Kaihori then had to stay alert as the Dutch threatened once more before the final whistle.

Teammate Yuki Ogimi seemed a bit perplexed by the goal afterward, saying through an interpreter that “it was a difficult time where she needed to determine whether she needed to hold the ball or catch it, and things like that can’t happen in a match.”

Gambling guru RJ Bell of pregame.com called it a “shady late goal.”

“The over/under for total number of goals in the game was 2.5. Meaning that this bizarre goal resulted in OVER bettors winning, and UNDER bettors losing,” Bell said. “Without the goal, it would have been the opposite.”

___

BLATTER WATCH: There’s still no word as to whether FIFA President Sepp Blatter or general secretary Jerome Valcke will attend the Women’s World Cup final in Vancouver on July 5.

“The travel plans of the FIFA president and the secretary general will be communicated in due course,” a FIFA spokesman said Wednesday.

Valcke was scheduled to be on hand for the opening of the tournament, but canceled those plans to be at FIFA’s headquarters in Zurich. Blatter was originally scheduled to attend the championship game before his travel plans became uncertain.

FIFA is dealing with a corruption scandal that was sparked by the U.S. Department of Justice indicting 14 people with racketeering, wire fraud, money laundering and other offenses. Blatter has announced he intends to step down once an election is held for his successor.

___

O(NE), CANADA: The host Canadians have shown they’re a one-goal team more often than not. Coach John Herdman says it, his players echo it.

So, the eighth-ranked Canucks realize another close one is likely when they face No. 6 England on Saturday back at BC Place — where the host country beat Switzerland 1-0 on Sunday.

Any underdog? Herdman thinks not.

His team played a tuneup match with the Three Lionesses in Hamilton, Ontario, and won 1-0 on a goal by Sophie Schmidt leading up to the World Cup. That snapped Canada’s four-game losing streak against England, though England was still adjusting after a long trip and didn’t use its entire lineup.

“None of us have got anything to lose other than that opportunity to get into a semifinal position,” Herdman said. “The difference will be who unlocks the defense — will it be a set play or will it be just a moment of magic from an individual player? That’s how tight this game can be.”

___

LOOKING AHEAD: The World Cup isn’t yet over, but the Americans already have post-Canada plans.

The team will play Costa Rica on Sunday, Aug. 16 in Pittsburgh and again on Aug. 19 in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

The United States and Costa Rica squared off in the title game of the 2014 CONCACAF championship, which served as qualification for the World Cup. The U.S. won the match 6-0, after both teams had already secured a spot in Canada.

Costa Rica failed to advance out of the preliminary round in its World Cup debut.

___

AP Sports Writers Janie McCauley in Vancouver, British Columbia, and Anne M. Peterson contributed to this report.

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

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Wambach has US teammates’ support for yellow card criticism