Thursday, August 14, 2008

us to go for bronze

Tomorrow morning at 9am on 8/15/08 (Beijing time), the US women's team will take on Romania in the first round of the bronze medal playoffs; the top team from each group will play for the gold/silver, and the #2 team from each group will try for the bronze. The teams on the women's side going for the bronze are Romania, USA, Japan, and Austria, and the teams going for the gold/silver are China, Hong Kong, Korea, and Singapore. Tomorrow's match against Romania should be an interesting one, for a couple of reasons: the US team is a team of veterans and very experienced players in Wang Chen and Gao Jun, and the Romanian team is a team of young blood and fresh legs in 20-year old Daniela Dodean (ranked #47 in the world) and 19-year old Elizabeta Samara (ranked #61 in the world), both of whom I have seen play in Junior Circuit tournaments. Dodean and Samara have played against USA's Wang Chen and Crystal Huang as recently as May of this year, with Dodean losing to Wang Chen 3-2 and Samara beating Crystal 4-2. Also, Romania just came off of a nail-biter, beating Poland 3-2, with Dodean winning at 9 in the fifth against Poland's Xu Jue. The win could affect the team's mental game by either tiring them out or by giving them a huge boost in confidence, so we'll see what happens tomorrow. Finally, the US coach is a former player of Romania's men's national team, so we'll see if that will help in terms of predicting Romania's line-up or strategy. I personally think that the US should win, but it'll be close; if our veterans come out of the gates strong and establish their presence and authority early, they should be able to control their matches. But if they allow Romania's players, sure-to-be psyched and pumped, to start off on a roll, who knows what'll happen. If USA wins, they will play either Japan or Austria for the bronze medal at 10am on 8/16/08 (Beijing time).

In the gold/silver playoffs, China will play Hong Kong at 7:30pm tomorrow night, and Singapore will play Korea at 2:30. There really isn't much of a question who will win the gold; China will definitely take first place, and Singapore should take the silver relatively easily. However, at this stage, with the silver medal at stake, it's hard to say what will happen between Korea and Singapore. We'll just have to wait and watch.

So, the best that the USA can do is bronze, but at this level of play, 3rd place ain't bad at all.