Monday, July 11, 2011

Hope Solo, Megan Rapinoe, and Abby Wambach for Queens of the Universe

I watched all 123+ minutes of the US women's soccer team's game versus Brazil yesterday, and it was one of the most exciting, breathtaking, infuriating, inspiring, incredible matches I've ever born witness to. The American side conducted themselves with dignity and creativity and in spite of the referee getting far too involved in the match, and playing 10 against 11 since the 66th minute, they persevered, and are going through to the semi-finals on a dramatic penalty kick shootout win.

That's poetic justice if you ask me because Brazil tied the game on a penalty kick after a red card. It was one of the most ridiculous calls I've ever seen. The original red-card wasn't that bad. Anytime a penalty in the box interrupts a goal scoring opportunity, a red card is almost required. But the first penalty shot was blocked by the US keeper, Hope Solo, one of the most beautiful women to ever play the game. The physics involved in blocking a penalty shot mean that it's almost impossible to do. I can't even really properly articulate how hard it is for a goal keeper to block a penalty shot, but she did it, and I was jumping out of my seat, thrashing around and screaming when she did.

Yet the referee got involved, beyond any expected level, and gave a second PK to the Brazilians for what all the experts agree, was no reason. The FIFA "law 14" says that the goalkeeper can move side to side on the baseline, as long as she does not step forward. The video below proves that there was nothing wrong with Hope Solo's poetic defense of that first penalty shot.



To be asked to defend a penalty kick twice is like ... well I have no idea exactly what it's like, but it isn't right.

And yet the US women played on, down a woman, and held Brazil into extra time. All seemed lost when the Brazilians scored in the first period of extra time, and then began to do everything they could to delay the match. Including at one time having a defender flop onto the ground as if she was hurt, wait for the medical staff to carry her off the field on a stretcher, where she immediately hopped off the thing, and trotted back onto the pitch. She wasted no less than four full minutes, and if you don't know Soccer, I can tell you that is a huge deal, because the clock never stops.

I wish I could find a video of that, because it's almost funny. It would be hilarious, in fact, if it weren't so infuriating. In the end it didn't matter though, because Megan Rapinoe came up with one of the greatest crosses from the left corner I have ever seen, in Men's or Women's Soccer, and the lovely Abby Wambach, the elder stateswoman of US Women's Soccer, headed it in, and sent the game to a shootout. Here is the latest goal ever scored in Women's World Cup Soccer, for your viewing pleasure:



Feel free to watch that a few times. I've been watching it over and over myself. The best part of the whole experience though? I watched the whole game with both my daughters, and afterwards we switched to sportscenter. I can't tell you how good it felt to have those ESPN talking heads discussing a women's sport for once.

You go girls!

36 comments:

Laura Pauling said...

We were away but have the game recorded. Sounds awesome. And I hate when professionals waste time like that. I understand why they do it. And some coaches will do it in the younger ages but I feel it's a bit unsportsman like. That's neat you watched it with your daughters!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I saw a few minutes here and there (sorry, soccer is not my thing) and it was infuriating. Glad they won regardless.

Sarah said...

I'm not a big soccer fan, but this post was awesome, and those videos gave me chills. Sounds like a very emotional match. And--is Hope Solo her given name? I only ask because that is the single most perfect and awesome name for a soccer goalkeeper I have ever heard.

Jessica Bell said...

Just dropping in to say hi as this has all gone over my head! lol

Rebecca Kiel said...

Love that you watched it with your girls.

Shain Brown said...

The game sounded awesome especially after seeing the news recap all the excitement this morning. I am now sorry I missed it. WOW, you have to give it to those girls.

Jess said...

YES!!! Holy crap, this was the best game ever!! I played D1 soccer in college and I haven't played since, but I still get shivers watching things like this. I cried for them when Abby got the header--and don't even get me started on that faking Brazilian bi$*% who wasted time. The PK wasn't called because Hope moved off the line--it was called because one of the US players standing at the top of the box stepped into the box before the kick happened. I didn't realize it until later when they were reviewing the game. Just awesome stuff! I hate to admit it, but I feel a little bad for that Brazilian player who scored the own goal and then missed her PK. Hope she doesn't get hurt by her media too much. Thanks so much for posting about these fantastic ladies. Oh, and my husband and I agree--Hope Solo is a hottie :)

Cynthia Lee said...

I'm not a sports fan at all but that game even held my attention and that's saying a lot.

Old Kitty said...

Go women's football (erm, soccer!)!!

Take care
x

Bryan Russell (Ink) said...

Awesome. I only caught highlights, but I would have loved to see that one.

Lydia K said...

Ooh, thanks for keeping me up to date. I'd heard a little about this but your post is way more fun to read!

Suzie F. said...

I watched the highlights this morning. Incredible! And, yes, Hope Solo is an awesome name!

All 3 of my girls love to play soccer :)

Natalie Aguirre said...

Great that you could watch it with your girls.

maine character said...

Well, that woke me up. Thanks for cluing me in.

Sarah Ahiers (Falen) said...

man, that last goal was totally badass!

Hektor Karl said...

A great game and an incredibly exciting finish... even reading your recap was pretty darn exciting all over again...

Sara McClung ♥ said...

Poor sportsmanship is one of the most infuriating things about watching sports, imo. And that Brazilian taking up time that way? Awful.

I didn't watch the game, but my dad (HUGE SOCCER FAN) did and said it was the best he's ever seen. Go USA!!!

Leila said...

Can I rain on your parade? I'm not a sports fan. I don't think watching gladiator games are exciting (albeit taking part is a whole 'nother matter). So reading this post, I took more notice of your writing style and technique than the actual content. I watched the videos... Or I tried... Sorry can't get into it. What is wrong with me? (to your credit, it did sound authenically emotional and tumultuous)

Michael G-G said...

Matt, you're my favorite sportswriter.

Jeffrey Beesler said...

Since the only sports that really seem to grab my attention are billiards and Quidditch, my comment must be directed towards the fact that you got quality time in doing something with your girls. It's moments like these that they will cherish for the rest of their lives.

storyqueen said...

Hope Solo is the best name for an athlete EVER!

(Secret child of Han??)

Loved this post.

Donna K. Weaver said...

Wasn't that awesome? I'm so glad when justice(?) prevails.

Anita said...

I didn't watch it, but you know what's inspiring? Your post. It's inspiring to see people inspired. And I think it's so great that you watched this with your girls. GO USA!

Christina Lee said...

AHHHHHHHHH! I could watch it over and over again!!

Carolyn Abiad said...

Awesome game! I love futbol/soccer.

Michael Offutt said...

I love watching soccer players...

And yes...anyone that reads this has full license to read into this much more than what it says... because it's true. O.o :)))

erica and christy said...

Where I grew up, we didn't have soccer and where my kids are now growing up, there's only fun rec league, so I don't know enough about it for it to hold my attention. We did watch the last 10 minutes yesterday, though, and even though I was a little confused, I definitely could see the good plays and feel the energy of the crowd. Go USA!

(and yeah, I watch every minute of every Milwaukee Brewers game I can and then watch ESPN for highlights of what I just watched just to make sure the rest of the sports world didn't miss it, so I'm totally with you there).
erica

Bish Denham said...

Stunning! Absolutely stunning. And I don't know a thing about soccer and never watch it. But I can surely appreciate a good play and that was IT!

M Pax said...

What an awesome story. Yay for the women. I don't watch sports much any more, but can appreciate their triumph and accomplishment.

ali said...

I was a soccer girl in HS and while that was like, ages ago, I still love the sport. I was beyond thrilled THRILLED!!!! to see them beat Brazil!

But what loved me most about this post is just how awesome it is that 1) you watched the game with your girls and that 2) you're growing up (probably) girls who can appreciate sports. Yay for you!

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Go team USA! They've got a real chance to win it all, too.

Melissa Sarno said...

I have no idea what you're talking about! ha. But I love your passion and excitement for the sport. It must have been awesome to watch it with your girls :-)

RaShelle said...

Completely awesome! Yay for the girls!!! =D

Sarah Pearson said...

I follow British football avidly (currently waiting for our season to start) and it drives me nuts when the referee forgets they're supposed to be neutral; and don't get me started on time wasting...

Big up to the USA women's team :)

Jemi Fraser said...

That's a crazy bad call!!! I didn't see the game, so thanks for sharing the clips! What a great way to spend time with your girls :)

LynNerd said...

I'm not into soccer, but I sure was into your post about the game. Boy, that ref sure steams my noodle! Three cheers for the U.S. women's soccer team! And yay for you, watching the game with your two girls! What a great dad.