Wednesday, July 13, 2011

U.S. Women Keep Up Impressive Run

While last summer it was the U.S. Men's Soccer team that seemingly captivated a nation, this summer the Women's squad has taken over that role and so far done very well with it. One thing the U.S. Men weren't able to do however was capitalize on that momentum, as they lost to Ghana in the knockout round almost as quickly as they had won their group. The U.S. Women didn't want to make the same mistake after their incredible, team-defining win against Brazil last weekend. It was a game that if you didn't watch live, you certainly ended up hearing about, and the support for this team here in America multiplied exponentially after the match. Now on Wednesday, they had to see what they would do with that kind of support.

The women were considered favorites over an up-and-coming French squad, and took charge early when Lauren Cheney scored in the ninth minute. But France wasn't going to give up quickly, and pressured the keeper Hope Solo with shot after terrifying shot. The French had more than twice the number of shots than the Americans, many of which just misses either over the crossbar or wide of the goal, including one that did hit woodwork late in the first half. They were finally awarded for their efforts in the 55th minute with a score, and this game was tied at 1-1. From that point on, France looked the better team. They had better ball control, better play on defense, and were taking more of the shots. It was starting to look like the United States team was going to exit the World Cup in heartbreaking fashion once again.

But determined to make the World Cup Final for the first time since 1999, and desperate to make an identity separate from that iconic team, Abby Wambach went back to the well and did the same thing she did on Sunday - a brilliant header into the back of the net. The beautiful Alex Morgan added the dagger just three minutes later, and soon sent search engines afire as men across the 50 states tried to get a look at the 22-year old. After losing to Sweden in group play, then needing all 120 plus minutes to come back to beat Brazil after some controversial officiating, the United States beat the odds again and knocked off a French side that is every bit as deserving to be in the Final as the U.S. is. This team is defining it's self by overcoming adversity, and doing it in spectacular fashion.

A date with Japan now looms, as the Japanese were also 3-1 winners on Wednesday in their game against Sweden. You want to assume that the Americans will be the favorites, but you really can't assume anything when it comes to this World Cup. The one thing we do know is that this United States team is hungry for a title, and they've proven they have the confidence, the guts, and the skill to get it done. Come Sunday, the whole nation will be watching to see if they can accomplish the task.


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