Disclaimer: this is one of the very few positive rants I will ever make on soccer. Now without further ado…
First let me say that I am extremely proud of our women’s World Cup team.
They showed a lot of grit throughout the tournament, whether it’s playing through pain (Abby Wambach’s Achilles injury), overcoming adversity (bad calls in the Brazil game) or not stooping to the level of competition (the bush-league tactics of Brazil). Our team’s “never say die” attitude captivated the nation throughout the tournament – and yes, I was watching.
That said, I have to be honest: our women’s team choked. Big time.
First of all, while I do not know much about soccer, no team should blow a lead with only nine minutes left in regulation. Our team took a 1-0 lead on Japan thanks to a beautiful goal by Alex Morgan in the 69th minute, only to give it back in the 80th minute on a defensive gaffe in front of our own net!
Unfortunately for us, it didn’t stop there. Wambach scored during extra time for a 2-1 lead, only to lose it in the 117th minute on, you guessed it, another defensive breakdown.
Then it got worse during the penalty kicks. Two blocks and a total whiff by our players later, and Japan walks away with the World Cup.
Simply put, we had the top-ranked team in the world and lost to a clearly inferior team in Japan.
If that doesn’t scream “choke job”, then I don’t know what does.
I’ll give credit where credit is due. Japan did a helluva job in hanging in against us. The Japanese withstood a furious challenge from us in the first half without wilting under the pressure. Best of all, Japan came through when it counted in the end.
Having said that, let’s be honest about something here. The better team did NOT win. Anyone who watched the game knew that we should have scored AT LEAST THREE goals in the first half. We had our chances, but could not cash them in.
However, as the Japanese demonstrated for the world to see, one does not have to be the better team in order to be the TOUGHEST team.