Let me start by admitting that I am not a soccer fan. While I have the utmost respect for the sport, its players and especially its fans I’ve never been able to get completely invested in it.
As far as women’s sports are concerned, I find it hard to categorize women differently than when they both play the same sport. That basically explains my interest in women’s soccer.
I do, however love story lines and great theater. And the United States Women’s soccer team provided plenty of both during their run to the FIFA World Cup Final. Like most less than casual fans, I caught the tail end of their overtime match with France. The Wombach header made me get out of my seat.
And this penalty kick by Megan Rapinoe @ the 4:12 mark had me in my B-Boy stance.
Needless to say I was pretty amped up for their match against Japan. I’m sure Hope Solo and company were too for a number of reasons. One of the mains ones being their desire to step out of the shadows of the 1999 U.S. team. Even if weren’t a sports fan you couldn’t escape nor will ever forget the image of a woman taking her shirt off on the soccer field. That was the biggest story line to me. Would this team take their place alongside, behind or in front of the ’99 team?
Images like those and names like Mia Hamm are like ghosts from the past that the 2011 team desperately wanted to shake away from. Which makes Sunday’s loss so devastating. Not to mention the way in which they lost. To squander so many opportunities in the first half, have the lead on two separate occasions and lose on penalty kicks is heartbreaking.
That thin line between winning and losing was thinner than deli meat Sunday. But no matter how close they came, the fact still remains.
There is no consolation for Hope Solo, Amy Wombach or Alex Morgan. And to be honest there shouldn’t be. Despite the fact that they made it all the way to the final, the 1999 team is “that” team. Amy Wombach’s header will go down in World Cup history, just not as far down as Brandi Chastain’s goal.
Without question each and every player on that team should be extremely proud of their representation of their country. All across America people were tuned in at bars, living rooms and even Times Square to watch this team and unite around the red and blue.
That still won’t stop the thoughts about what could have been.