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Jerry’s World

Best, worst of Women’s World Cup.

By Jerry Langdon
Gannett News Service

Jerry’s World - Part II

(Monday, June 28, 1999) -- No team has faced a more brutal travel schedule than Russia, which has had three coast-to-coast trips in the 1999 FIFA World Women’s World Cup -- and the prospect of two more if it manages an upset of China in the quarterfinals.

The mileage so far: 7,548 miles. If the Russians somehow win Wednesday, chalk up two more trips: 5,267 miles.

Next in travel? China, with 5,577 miles so far, and the likelihood of another 5,267 miles. Denmark, which was eliminated, was the only team other than Russia to confront coast-to-coast travel for all first-round games -- from East Rutherford, N.J., to Portland, Ore., to Landover, Md.

Other quarterfinalists’ mileage totals:

- Brazil: 1,317.
- United States: 1,969.
- Nigeria: 2,332.
- Norway: 2,830.
- Germany: 3,174,
- Sweden: 4,857.

If the favored teams advance to the semifinals, here are the total mileages for the entire World Cup:

- Brazil: 4,039.
- United States: 4,691.
- Norway: 8,106.
- China: 10,853.

Some highlights from the first round:

Attendance: Remember the doubters who said the women wouldn’t draw. The average is 32,408 per doubleheader, and it figures to grow with the knockout rounds. The U.S. doubleheaders’ average -- 64,845. The non-U.S. average -- 21,596.

Best game: Brazil’s injury-time draw with Germany, an exciting 3-3 match.

Worst game: Three-way tie among China’s 7-0 rout of Ghana and Mexico’s losses to Brazil 7-1 and Germany 6-0.

Most overachieving teams: Nigeria, bouncing back from U.S. humiliation to make the second round; and North Korea, which is the equal of three quarterfinal teams.

Most underachieving teams: Denmark, 0-3 with just one goal, and Australia, 0-2-1 despite spending nearly a year in residency camp.

Roughest team: Nigeria, with 29 fouls against United States after 28 against North Korea.

Cleanest team: United States, with no yellow cards.

Most unsung team: Russia, the best of the non-elite teams.

Goal differential: Still a factor with team that loses quarterfinal match by most goals missing the eight-team 2000 Olympics, hosted by Australia.

Top player: Sissi, the Brazil midfielder with six goals. Next? forward Sun Wen, China. Next? forward Mia Hamm, United States.

Most promising player: forward Patrizia Panico, Italy.

Biggest injury: Midfielder Martina Voss, Germany, able to play just 29 minutes due to hamstring.

Biggest questions: The status of Norway defender Linda Medalin and forward Ann Kristin Aarones and Sweden forward Hanna Ljungberg, all injured in weekend matches.

Biggest mystery:. Why did captain. Sun Hui Kim sit out last 61 minutes of North Korea opener against Nigeria?

Top goalkeeper: None to date. Lack of consistency and lack of action makes it to difficult to choose at this point.

Most unsung star: midfielder Irina Grigorieva, Russia.

Best TV commercial: adidas’ "There from the Start" ads on Sun Wen, China, and Silke Rottenberg, Germany.

Worst TV commercial: AllState declaring "Save of the Day," at halftime of first game, with three more matches to be played.

Biggest surprise: Analyst Wendy Gebauer saying Mia Hamm took a dive during first half of North Korea game, not drawing a foul, and earlier saying she got away with a tap/push on the head of a defender after the two players collided.

Most embarrassing moment: U.S. defenders Carla Overbeck and Brandi Chastain colliding in penalty box, nearly allowing Nigeria a second goal and 2-0 lead.

Most gratifying crowds: Attendance averaging 18,898 for two non-U.S. doubleheaders in Portland (Ore.).

Most disappointing crowd: The 22,109 at Jack Kent Cooke Stadium in Landover, Md., for Brazil-Germany and Nigeria-Denmark.

On-field soap opera: Linda Medalin of Norway raised shirt, exposing her sports bra, in celebration of goal against Canada.

Off-field soap opera: Steffi Jones of Germany, hoping to see her American father, now living in San Antonio.

Most courageous team: Mexico, coming back after two routs to battle Italy gamely, losing, 2-0.

Best performance by a sub: Tisha Venturini of United States, with two spectacular diving header goals against North Korea.

Most colorful team: Nigeria, with all-out attacking mentality, speed, and several starters with spectacular, rainbow-type hairstyles.

Best media (print): William Gildea of Washington Post, describing how rough, tough, masculine Chicago went wild over the U.S. women’s soccer team, and Mark Zeigler of San Diego Tribune, for penetrating profile of Mia Hamm.

Jerry Langdon is sports editor of Gannett News Service and can be e-mailed at jlangdon@gns.gannett.com.

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