Five World Cup keys with Anson Dorrance

July 17, 2011 

Anson Dorrance knows about Women's World Cup soccer better than just about anybody.

Dorrance is best known now for his work as North Carolina's women's coach - his Tar Heels teams have won 21 national championships, most recently in 2009. But he also coached the U.S. team from 1986-94, compiling a 66-22-5 record and winning the 1991 World Cup.

Dorrance's UNC teams have provided the national squad with 49 players over the years, far more than any other collegiate program. Many of those players - names like Mia Hamm, Kristine Lilly and Carla Overbeck - are among the game's greatest stars.

This year's U.S. team plays Japan in the World Cup final at 2:45 p.m. today in Frankfurt, Germany, and features two former North Carolina players - midfielders Heather O'Reilly and Tobin Heath.

Staff writer David Scott asked Dorrance to point out five keys for today's game:

The U.S. style of play: "The interesting thing about it is (coach) Pia (Sundhage) has transformed us from working so hard all the time to making us a more technical, possessive team. The ultimate irony is that we keep winning games with our (never-say-die) mentality.

"So that's an interesting juxtaposition. Our qualities are our classic speed, strength, size and ability in the air. Japan's at a disadvantage there. It's an interesting dynamic, us trying to beat Japan by being more technical. And Japan is a wonderfully technical team."

Appreciate Japan's Sawa: "Homare Sawa is brilliant. She's a catalyst in almost every part of Japan's game. She's scoring goals out of midfield and leading in a very charismatic way."

Japan has more than just a title to play for: "They're playing for (the victims of) the tsunami and the earthquake. So they're playing way beyond themselves, that's their motivation. All of us in athletics understand how powerful that can be, when it's something more than just yourselves."

A lineup suggestion: "I think Pia did a great job in the second half (of the semifinal) against France by making a lineup adjustment and bringing in Megan Rapinoe as an attacking midfielder. I would keep her in there and also have (Lauren) Cheney as an attacking center and Shannon Boxx (behind her). So there was a classic diamond midfield with Heather O'Reilly on the other side. That was an excellent adjustment - and the lineup that I would start (today)."

U.S. discipline: "Pia does a lot of fundamental, technical training, something a lot of us don't have the courage to do because we feel like we have to entertain our players in practice for fear of losing them.

"I recently saw Boxx practicing crossing: banging ball after ball in there from 45 to 50 yards. So when you see Rapinoe's cross that's right on the money to Abby Wambach against Brazil, and Cheney's corner (kick) to Wambach that's right on the money against France, you see how that aspect of disciplined, fundamental training pays off."

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