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Meghan Klingenberg helped preserve a draw for USA against Sweden.

On a day when men’s soccer saw a swastika on the field during the Croatia-Italy Euro qualifier match, the Women’s World Cup finished its second go-around, with all teams having played two games and USA still atop Group D after its draw with Sweden. Here’s the latest batch of questions and answers:

Meghan Klingenberg is being feted for her 78th-minute goal-line clearance that preserved the 0-0 draw. Is she the defensive MVP?
USA’s defensive performance overall was much tighter than it was against Australia, and this is largely down to central defenders Julie Johnston and Becky Sauerbrunn improving their understanding. They kept Sweden’s all-world striker Lotta Schelin quiet during the game, no easy feat. USA could probably use a top-line defensive midfielder to shield the back four — Lauren Holiday plays the role willingly, but she’s still miscast. With all that, Klingenberg was the one who, despite her lack of height (at 5’2” she’s the smallest player on USA’s squad), managed to head Caroline Seger’s shot off the line. If that shot goes in, USA’s entire outlook on the group changes.

What is the outlook?
The team is almost mathematically assured of progressing past the group stage, but there’s a big difference between finishing first in the group (which would get a matchup with a third-place team in the round of 16) and second (which would mean facing Brazil). To finish on top, USA probably needs a win against Nigeria in the final game on Tuesday. They could still finish first with a draw, but that would require another draw in the Australia-Sweden game, and you wouldn’t want to bank on something like that.

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Sweden is the first opponent in 16 years to hold USA scoreless. Should we be worried about our offense?
There are ominous signs. True, Morgan Brian was played out of position at right wing and Sweden made proper defensive adjustments after giving up three goals to Nigeria. Nevertheless, Carli Lloyd’s final ball was lacking, and Sydney Leroux (for all her running) wasted the Americans’ best chances on goal. Also, Alex Morgan made her second substitute appearance in this tournament without contributing much, which makes you wonder how fit she is. Does USA dare leave her on the bench against Nigeria? If the game doesn’t go our way, will using her as a sub be too late for her to make an impact?

What about the other teams?
The consolation is, none of the other pre-tournament favorites are killing it. After ringing up double digits on Ivory Coast, Germany failed to beat Norway. Likewise, Canada had to settle for a draw against New Zealand after needing a last-gasp penalty to beat China. Meanwhile, Netherlands fell to China after looking good in their opening game. Only two countries won both their opening games, and Brazil didn’t strike fear into anyone after consecutive 1-0 wins over South Korea and Spain, the latter depending on a bad defensive error. Meanwhile, Japan went from looking fearsomely clinical through their first 1¾ games to looking positively wheezy in the last 15 minutes against Cameroon. Of course, the biggest shock so far is France losing to Colombia.

Tell me more about that.
The Colombian women weren’t as wild and free-flowing as the men’s team in last year’s World Cup, but they took the lead and then killed off the latter stages of the game like seasoned veterans. As Fox’ sports crew hammered home, goal-scorer Lady Andrade was a villain of the 2012 Olympics when she sucker-punched Abby Wambach during a lopsided loss, but she enjoyed a game she could be proud of against top-level opposition, as was playmaker Yoreli Rincón and Sandra Sepulveda, who turned in the best game by a goalkeeper so far. As for the French, they play more beautifully than anyone else when they’re on, but that beautiful play has to translate to the ball hitting the back of the net. They have some thinking to do, and coach Philippe Bergeroo’s mid-game adjustments (including the puzzling move of taking out Louisa Nécib) don’t inspire confidence. That win they banked over England will probably get them through the group stages, but they suddenly look limited.

Besides Colombia, who else should we be happy for?
Picking up their first-ever Women’s World Cup victories were Thailand (over Ivory Coast) and Cameroon, which beat Ecuador and then gave the Japanese a hard fight. In fact, a late header by Gaëlle Enganamouit came within inches of tying the game up. Meanwhile, Costa Rica hasn’t won yet, but they came back to draw both Spain and South Korea, getting the equalizer late against the latter. Looks like the magic of that country’s men’s team from last year’s World Cup has rubbed off on the women.

How’s the officiating at this tournament?
The next time I feel the urge to complain about officiating at a men’s game, I’ll remember the refereeing here. Referees are supposed to position themselves so that they don’t interfere with play, and while men’s referees occasionally get caught up, I’ve lost count of the times the refs at this tournament have been hit by passes or impeded players. There have also been numerous blown offside calls, at least two clear handball penalties that should have been given (Sydney Leroux vs. Sweden, Daniela Montoya vs. France), and most egregiously, a hard elbow thrown by Nigeria’s Ugo Njoku that caught Australia’s Samantha Kerr under her chin and initially raised fears that Kerr had a broken jaw. That foul went unseen and unpunished when it should have earned a red card. Njoku will still likely be suspended against USA and beyond.

What can improve the officiating?
If FIFA insists on having women officiate Women’s World Cup games (which it should), then it should have women referee men’s games at the club level. Not only would this give female officials more work, it would also expose them to levels of play that would help them gain the sort of experience that would cut down on the errors that we’ve seen.

I had Stephen A. Smith in the betting pool as the first high-profile journalist to say something insulting about the women! I win!
Congratulations! You receive a deluxe DVD of Bend It Like Beckham and two tickets to the upcoming movie about the “Battle of the Sexes” tennis match, set to star Emma Stone and Steve Carell. Meanwhile, Stephen A. Smith receives the continuing scorn of the sports world and sensitivity training in addition to what he got after his Ray Rice comments last year. Clearly the training he got back then didn’t take.

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