Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Sad Day for US Soccer

As you probably already know, the US Women's Soccer Team managed to give away the Championship multiple times in the final game, it was a Phil Hellmuth style performance on a grand scale.  For those who might not know, Phil Hellmuth played extremely well in this year's World Series of Poker, repeatedly dominating tournaments and reaching final tables, and at least twice he had a HUGE chip lead when it was just down to him and one other person, and both times he somehow managed to lose.  Our American team did the same thing, we had a totally dominant position, a goal up with just minutes to go two different times, and each time managed to give it away.  As a fan of the UNC Tarheels, we saw this in the ACC Championship game.  We played Duke, our arch rivals who we had already dominated in two regular season games (although we gave one of those away also after having a big double digit lead at halftime) but in the ACC Championship we simply looked like we didn't belong out there, due entirely to nerves.  This is what our women's team looked like out there each time we took a lead, they started playing so badly it was as if they didn't even belong on a soccer field.  It was clearly nerves, knowing they had almost won the World Championship was simply more than they could take.  The UNC Tarheels were the best team in College Basketball, and it happened to them.  They were men, and it happened to them.  It can happen to anybody, men or women, no matter how good you are, it's just a human thing.  The good news is, if we can keep the team together, it's probably not something that will happen again.  Once you've been on that big stage, tasted the nerves and the bitter fruit of them, you tend to do much better in subsequent opportunities.  Look how horrible Kobe Bryant was in the playoffs in his early days, I still remember that time with the game on the line, he took the last shot at the buzzer, and it was an AIRBALL.  He was the laughing stock of the league, he was never going to be anybody, he couldn't win the big one, etc.  With experience comes the ability to overcome the nerves, and that's what our women are going to show in London next year, when we win that major tournament.

It isn't possible for a great team to play worse than my Tarheels played in last year's ACC Tournament Finals, and it isn't possible for the US Women's team to play worse than they did at the end of regulation, overtime, and in PKs.  My Tarheels recovered strong and almost won the NCAA Tournament, the US Women's Team will recover strong and win in London next year.  We've still got the best goalie on the planet, male or female, and she's already announced she's sticking with the team.  We've got a great striker in Abby Wambach, she may have had her worst tournament ever but she still scored what was almost the game winning goal, once she gets out of this rut of missing the vast majority of her shots for no reason at all she will be an unstoppable force.  Alex Morgan scored what should have been the Championship winning goal in regulation, she was almost the biggest female sports star in American history, and because she's also very attractive she would've also likely been a millionaire several times over from endorsement deals.  She will get another chance to attain that status next year.

This is a bitter, painful loss, but it's one we're going to learn from, we're going to grow from, and we're going to come back stronger than ever.  I would say 'I hope Japan makes the finals again next year' but honestly I don't care, they're so far beneath us that the very idea of looking for 'revenge' is almost absurd.  We owned them, and we would own them again, this time without the late-game choking, that's just a given.  The matchup I'd like to see again is Marta vs Solo, the greatest vs the greatest.  Of course we own Brazil also, but its not about wondering whether we can beat Brazil yet again, its just the idea of seeing those two greats going toe to toe again, that would be a Finals I'd like to see.  But regardless of who we beat along the way, the bottom line is that Championship belongs to us.  All other teams beware, the US Women have something to prove, and next year they're going to prove it, erasing any doubts along the way!

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