Keep the faith in U.S. team

Don't we all wish we were in Germany, among the face-painted fanatics, waving, cheering and experiencing the 2011 Women's World Cup firsthand? For those not in Deutschland, espnW will provide the full fan experience. Each Monday and Friday throughout the three-week tournament, The Kick will offer a multimedia overview, so you'll feel as if you're part of history in the making.

Most surprisingly, Sweden handed the U.S. its first-ever loss in Women's World Cup group play Wednesday. Never before had the U.S. placed below the top spot entering the quarterfinal stage. The U.S. was the last team to qualify for this World Cup, but now it hopes to be the last one eliminated.

@Jenifary: Isn't it better we got that loss out of the way when it's not a do or die situation? #USWNT

@October_cmu: "This team's not going to give up... I believe in this team coming back." -- Hope Solo on the USWNT loss.

@Alexmorgan13: looks like we are taking the road less traveled, again... but we will embrace it like we have in the past. Game 4 here we come.

The loss was reminiscent of the 2007 WWC semifinal against Brazil, when the Green and Yellow dominated play, shutting out the Americans 4-0. This time, Abby Wambach broke her streak of no goals with a passionate finish, momentarily boosting the American side. Let's see whether Pia Sundhage can come up with seven good things for one criticism.

The whole song and dance

New Zealand did something the U.S. couldn't. It came back from behind to draw 2-all against Mexico, scoring two goals after the 90th minute. The team performed a traditional Maori haka, choreographed specifically for the Kiwis. Defender Kristy Hill discussed the significance of the Football Ferns' haka.

A serenade for Dresden

Despite the competitive nature of Group B, New Zealand and England joined together in song as they welcomed one another to Dresden.

... And one for Wolfsburg

The Americans had a different experience. They were greeted by not only rain, but also a warm welcome outside their Wolfsburg hotel, complete with cheerleaders, a brass band, handmade signs, cheering fans, cameras -- and plenty of American flags.

U.S. defender Stephanie Cox said, "It's awesome just to see all of the support and attention women's soccer is getting. There are so many American fans [who] come out to the games. It's unbelievable. After the games, after the wins, just going around the stadium, you feel like you're in your hometown with all of the fans."

Handy cam: England's camp

Ever wonder what the teams do in their free time? Midfielder Jill Scott provided a sneak peek into the day-to-day preparation of England's national team. Between intense pingpong games, high-stakes poker, WWC game viewing parties, doing laundry, recovery and, of course, teatime, how have players managed to fit in practice on the pitch?

From America, with love

There are 16 countries represented in the Women's World Cup, but there are far more players with American ties than just the 21-woman USA squad. With 11 players born in America, two raised in the U.S. and 38 current or former collegiate players from nine countries, that means about 10 percent of all players competing in this year's tournament were raised in America and about 21.5 percent have played within the American schooling system.

Brazil's flair affair

The Brazilians shut down Genoveva Anonma and applied high pressure to Equatorial Guinea keeper Miriam. The team eventually broke down the African side's defense 3-0, with some skillful strikes from its forward line: a delicate juggle and one-time finish from Erika, a finished Marta cross by Cristiane (who celebrated with a back flip and later went on to convert a PK). Cristiane's back flip might have reminded the '99ers of Tisha Venturini's goal celebrations against North Korea.

One fan filmed his ecstatic reaction to Cristiane's second goal.

Day of firsts

France gave tournament-favorite Germany a run for its money Tuesday, managing to hold its own with only 10 players on the pitch and 25 minutes remaining in regulation. The first red card of the WWC 2011 was awarded to French keeper Berangere Sapowicz, who committed a brutal slide tackle in front of the goalmouth. Without time to warm up, backup keeper Celine Deville came off the bench and was thrown in to defend a penalty kick, a free kick and a whipped-in cross minutes after she began playing.

Beer and brats in Berlin

The Free Beer Movement created a multipart Drinker's Guide to the Women's World Cup, detailing the German cities and venues in relation to football and fun. Fans from around the world can enjoy the international tournament with prime atmosphere and full tummies all across Germany.

Fans from the stands

UNC junior and U-23 women's national team midfielder Amber Brooks wrote about her experience in Germany, from watching the USA in group play, to playing in games of her own against local clubs.

Welcome to the WWC blogosphere

Joan and Ruth from Cross-Conference 'Cast are interviewing various players and key figures in the women's game blogosphere about the Women's World Cup 2011.

Jenna Pel from All White Kit.

Jennifer Doyle from From A Left Wing.

Shane from The Girls in the Cheap Seats.

A little birdie said ...

@Lynner15: Crazy! Power outage at the Women's World Cup game [during Canada-Nigeria match Tuesday]. Would not want to be in a stadium with thousands of rabid soccer fans when that happens.

@JulieFoudy: Great to run into so many US fans here. Plus will have a big US fan presence from US military bases nearby. Fantastic.

@Britzkrieggg: Dear Sinclair, You're one tough, badass chick... and you totally rock the Zorro mask. ~An admiring fan.

@Jbm64: just thought of a classic. Next time Marta scores: "This. Is. MARTA!!!". #wwc

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