Sunday, July 10, 2011

USA! USA! U.S. Women Win Wild Game Over Brazil

It seemed impossible. Everything was against them.

They were down a goal, on an officiating gift, no less.

They were down a player, on another officiating gift from Referee Jacqui Melksham. (Does this look like a red card to you? Seriously?)

They were facing Brazil and Marta, arguably the greatest player in the world. To say nothing of Christiane, who has got to be a top 5 player herself. Whassup with the Brazilians all being 'one-namers?' They're all just listed at the Fifa roster by first names. No kidding. And to think I always thought you needed to do something remarkable, like Pele, to be a one namer. Like Oprah. Or Elvis. Or Cher.

Sitting on that one goal lead in OT, the Brazilians were working every possible angle, taking 'gamesmanship' to the point where one might call it, oh, I dunno, cheating. Or at the very least a crass degeneration of the rules. (Yes, Erika, I am looking at you.)

One of the reasons I always enjoyed the women's game more than the men's game (yeah, I said it) was that there was less shameless flopping, and where there was an occasional flop, it didn't drag on and on, the length of an Orson Welles movie. If you've watched 15 minutes of soccer in your life, you know what I'm talking about. ESPN even made an hilarious commercial about it, here.

But with time dwindling away, Erika laid there, in a performance worthy of Cher back in her Oscar days, dragging out the delay of game for more than three minutes. (And to think, studies had proven that women bounced up faster.)

It made me sad, really, that this tremendously talented team resorted to these tactics, that they went around that bend, down that rabbit-hole, into the realm previously inhabited largely by their male compatriots -- relying less on talent and will, and more on shameless fakes and feints. Puh-leeze, ladies. God bless those German fans -- those hisses, whistles and boos weren't all reserved for the ref -- they were directed at the Brazilian team, and Marta herself. Deservedly so.

And then, in the 122nd minute -- the one-hundred and twenty-second minute -- in the extra-time after the over-time, somehow, some way, in story-book fashion that I wouldn't believe if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes, Abby Wambach buried a magnificent header to tie the game, on a brilliant feed by Megan Rapinoe.

How do you say karma in Portuguese?


That's the answer I got from my buddy Bob and I'm going to stick with that.

Strangely, I thought the American women played better, more aggressively, with a chip on their shoulders once they were down from 11 players to 10.

It certainly made it a more sweet victory.

And now, you'll excuse me, while I rhapsodize for a moment about goaltender, Hope Solo. She is model good-looking, but she struts like the toughest guy (or girl) in school, the one who might flip the bird to the school principal, and then make going to detention cool. I love her bad-assery and her cockiness. I think it's infectious. I love it.

Last year, when True/Slant was still around, I wrote that I had my first soccer memory while watching the men's World Cup and I should have clarified that I had my first men's soccer memory. My real first soccer memory was watching the 1999 Women's World Cup. I was visiting my cousins in North Carolina and, god bless 'em, neither had a television, so I availed myself of a new bar/restaurant that had opened to watch the final against China, largely by myself and transfixed. I can picture the bar clear as day, even though I haven't set foot back into it in a dozen years.

The point is that men's sports or women's sports, olympics or high school football -- we watch sports for something to do, because it's fun, and it gives you something to talk about with people. But we really watch sports to create memories.This game, this match up, this unbelievable comeback against Brazil, with the German fans chanting "U-S-A! U-S-A!," and a ticket to story-book land on the table, well, I'll never forget it.  Another amazing moment for my already rich treasure trove of sports memories.

If you want a quick breakdown of the rules (which is to say, how and why the US women were playing down a woman), so that you can prepare yourself for the semi-finals, this is a handy guide.

The US Women play again on Wednesday, in a match against France at noon. Be there.

[Photos: Wambach & Solo -- Martin Rose, Getty Images; Buehler-Marta pic -- Scott Heavey, Getty Images; Solo save -- Jens Meyer, AP; whole team --]

1 comment:

  1. I managed to miss most of this game EXCEPT for the incredible header, so I'm feeling like a shameless flopper myself. Jod, your chapter title is right there: "how do you say karma..."