Worth the wait: The amazing USWNT

The hero, Abby Wambach. Wambach saved the U.S. from elimination from the 2011 Women's World Cupwith an amazing goal in extra time. (Courtesy, kate rw Flickr)

By Ryan Fleming

Sitting in my living room in the same chair where I watched the United States Men’s National Team defeat Algeria in what I thought, at the time, was the best sporting event I’ve seen in my 24 years, my opinion has now changed.

Admittedly, I was late in watching the game, coming back from a weekend away. On my drive home I followed the game through the numerous sports outlets I follow on Twitter (God save Twitter). I got home with about 15 minutes left in the game and couldn’t remove my eyes from the TV.

Something about the passion of USWNT forward Abby Wambach yelling, encouraging her teammates forward. The knowledge already of the red card that really wasn’t — sending off Yank Rachel Buehler in the 65th minute on her invisible foul that saw her and five-time World Player of The Year, Marta, collapse inside the box. The save that wasn’t – all to be taken away for an encroachment penalty, that is certainly correct by the book, but often gets overlooked.

I guess it just makes sense that the US got the last laugh. Wambach’s seemingly impossible header in the 122nd minute – the latest goal in women’s World Cup history – thrilled those in Dresden, those in Germany, the United States and even Brazil, albeit for a different reason.

It was the team that didn’t give up, playing with only 10 players for over 55 minutes, coming back down a goal, then winning 5-3 in penalty kicks with US keeper Hope Solo, stopping the Brazilians, again, and proving why she is the No. 1 keeper in the world.

It was frizzy-haired Megan Rapinoe’s 30-yard cross that found its way, with seemingly destined eyes, to the leaping Wambach and with a loud, almost buffered “chank” put to fruition all those thoughts in my head of “something great is going to happen” and disintegrated the possibility of the worst ever World Cup, by losing two games – the first time it would have happened to the USWNT.

It was the collectively cool finishes that each US player displayed after lining up at the penalty spot. Shannon Boxx, Carli Lloyd, Wambach, Rapinoe and the German-speaking defender Ali Krieger, who played professionally in Frankfurt, Germany, that finished off Brazil 12 years to the day when Briana Scurry, Brandi Chastain and the 1999 US team dominated headlines with their win over China in the Final.

“America is finally realizing that soccer is a beautiful game,” Solo said on ESPN following the win. There’s truth to that statement. It is moments like this, players like them, passion you cannot teach and the tremendous amount of heart that coaches wish for in all their players that are transforming this country into one that is finally not just recognizing the sport, but beginning to find the passion.

France awaits next and whatever the outcome, US soccer is starting to grab the hearts of many and attract many more to such a special game.

Ryan Fleming can be reached at Ryan.Fleming@thesoccerguysonline.com.

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6 thoughts on “Worth the wait: The amazing USWNT

  1. Ryan Fleming says:

    Certain photos have rights that we cannot take, unfortunately. If that wasn’t the case, we’d have some serious photos up. Thanks for commenting everyone. 

  2. […] Worth the wait: The amazing USWNT (thesoccerguysonline.com) […]

  3. curious: why the old photo of Abby Wamback for this article? Why not use a recent shot – one from the game perhaps?

    • We don’t have the licenses with Getty or AP to use anything that is not a wikicommons photo. It’s too expensive of a license. We don’t want to use things we aren’t licensed to use because it’s against the law and we are professional about how we use content and information.

      If you can find something that hasn’t been licensed yet, let us know. We’d love to use it.

  4. Nice article and I like the rosy thinking that American’s are starting to embrace the passion for soccer, but I think it’s still a bit of wishful thinking. The respect for and desire to watch soccer peaks when the Americans perform well, but always sputters out within a few years. After the 99 WWC Championship there was a huge surge in support of Women’s Soccer, but the league that developed sure didn’t last long. We have a new Women’s Soccer league, but only have teams in a few cities. Men’s soccer hasn’t been the most successful here, either. And we’ve seen numerous indoor soccer teams and leagues come and go over the last few decades in the U.S.

    Soccer just doesn’t have a sustainable passion stateside. It’s unfortunate, really, considering that millions of youth – boys and girls – play soccer every year. I fear that we’ll have the same surge – the same temporary support of this sport, but that it will lag in a couple years when the memories of this World Cup team begin to wear thin. I’ll certainly embrace this soccer acceptance while it lasts, but I have a pessimistic outlook of its longevity in popularity.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Amen! Those girls showed class! This game will go down as a turning point for American soccer. Even with the crappy refs, they didn’t give up!

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