Fresh French put US in recovery mode

Little time to celebrate as US players concentrate on recovering from draining match against Brazil ahead of semi.

    The US became the first team to win after falling behind in extra time at the women's World Cup [AFP]

    The United States women have their quickest turnaround yet at the World Cup, with just two days to prepare for their semi-final against France after Sunday's physically and emotionally draining epic against Brazil.

    "It's a big difference I think," US midfielder Heather O'Reilly, who played 108 minutes, said of France's extra day of rest ahead of the match.

    "Every hour counts in terms of recovery, but we have a fitness coach here, Dawn Scott, who's really encouraged us even outside the World Cup about recovery strategies.

    "It's part of our culture now. Ice baths and massage...we're just doing everything and anything to get our legs back and it's been working. I think that showed, obviously, in the game."

    Down to 10 players for nearly an hour and on the verge of their earliest World Cup exit, the US beat Brazil 5-3 on penalties after a 2-2 draw Sunday night, while France had beaten England, also after extra time and penalties, on Saturday.

    Abby Wambach had equalised with a magnificent header in the 122nd minute, the deepest into a World Cup game a goal has ever been scored.

    The Americans then buried their penalty kicks and goalkeeper Hope Solo denied the Brazilians again, batting away Daiane's attempt after Cristiane and Marta had converted theirs.

    It was the first time in women's World Cup history that a team had come back to win after falling behind in extra time, and only the fourth time overall.

    Italy (1970 semi-finals), Germany (1982 semi-finals) and Sweden (1994 quarter-finals) did it in the men's World Cup.

    "I think we're going to do everything possible to get our legs recovered," said Carli Lloyd, one of seven Americans to play the entire game.

    "Yeah, I'd say it is a little bit of advantage to (France). But they also went into OT. It's not really about how many days, it's about how fast you can recover. And I think we are going to recover faster, and I think we're going to be ready to go.

    "Even if your legs are a little bit tired, you're just going to dig deeper. We'll get that rest after the final."

    France also won a penalty shootout, beating England on Saturday afternoon.

    The Americans had a light day on Monday before their afternoon flight to Dusseldorf.

    Those players who didn't see time in Sunday's game trained while those who did focused on recovery.

    "It's just about recovery," said Shannon Boxx, who also played the entire game and scored a penalty after a retake.

    "Ice bath, pool, making sure we're getting fluids, making sure we're eating right. Last night, we have our staff walking around making sure – even though we're with our families – 'Did you eat? Did you eat?'

    "Little things like that which you don't really think are too important become very important when you only have two games left."

    SOURCE: AP


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