After Landon Donovan’s electrifying goal in the waning minutes of group play last year that gave U.S. Men’s Soccer its first World Cup group win since 1930, I was doubtful that soccer could get any bigger than it was at that moment. Well, Hope Solo, Abby Wambach, and the 2011 Women’s Soccer Team are proving me wrong.
As their accelerating run is progressing, the United States team went from an irrelevant footnote to a front page story in the Dallas Morning News. Captivating only begins to describe their play at this moment. After sub par group play, U.S.A. was unfortunately matched up against a powerful Brazil team. Regulation provided back-and-forth play with few goals, and the Americans seemed surely beat as Brazilian scoring machine Marta put in her second goal of the game only two minutes into overtime to put Brazil up 2-1. The U.S. was down a man and seemed to have no control of the field whatsoever. But as Americans seem to have a knack for doing, this team never gave up. They persevered to the last minute…literally. During stoppage time as the whistle was soon to be blown, Abby Wambach headed a perfectly crossed ball into the net to send the game into penalty kicks. The women went on to defeat Brazil in PK’s, 5-3. France was next for the U.S as the semifinals soon approached. Being the oldest team in the tournament coming off an energy-draining victory, the Americans looked tired as they were outplayed by France for the majority of the game. But once again, with a late surge, Abby Wambach headed in the go-ahead goal in the 79th minute that eventually led to a 3-1 victory.
The Finals are now the last step for these repetitively resilient women, facing Japan on Sunday at 1:45 p.m. While playing a sport less adored by the American public than football, basketball, and baseball, these women – along with the men last year – have shown that the U.S.A. can compete with countries whose central (and in some cases only) sport is soccer. If these men and women continue this level of play, sports fans will surely find room to fit soccer into their schedule. I can’t wait to see what happens this Sunday as I am sure Abby Wambach will once again have her head in the game.
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