Like most people around the country, I was parked in front of a television screen this past Sunday watching our U.S. women’s soccer team lose a heartbreaker to Japan. Being a huge soccer fan, I hardly slept the night before in anticipation of this game. You can imagine my disappointment when we lost to Japan in penalty kicks.
However, despite my sadness, I couldn’t help but be happy for Japan’s well deserved victory. They truly played the best soccer in the tournament beating the host and pre-tourney favorite to win the Cup, Germany; beating Sweden, a team who beat us pretty handily; before going on to beat the U.S, ranked number one in the world.
I was also tremendously proud of our team. Our women showed so much heart, determination, teamwork, joy, resilience and class in defeat. What’s not to love about a team made up of not only such phenomenal athletes, but also world-class individuals?
Take Abby Wambach. Did any player in the World Cup work harder for her team? Each and every time we needed someone to step up to be a hero, she willed herself to score a goal. Being our key offensive player, Abby also took a beating each and every game, as defenses had no choice but to try and find a way to contain her. After the loss to Japan, Wambach spoke with such class and sincerity in what would be a difficult time for anyone.
Then there’s Megan Rapinoe. The speedy winger was consistently our best playmaker and an energetic spark off the U.S bench. Her cross in the 122nd minute, which found Abby Wambach’s head for the goal to send the game into penalties, might just be the biggest clutch play in all of soccer history. Rapinoe was another player who never stopped running or fighting for every 50-50 ball on the pitch.
What about Hope Solo? In the previous World Cup, Solo found herself mired in controversy after making negative comments about her replacement’s (Brianna Scurry) play in a 4-0 loss to Brazil in the final. Kicked off the team almost immediately, Solo found herself without a team until new coach Pia Sundhage came on board and reinstated her. Throughout the past four years, Solo certainly hasn’t tempered her passion and fire for the game. But she has learned a valuable lesson about being a teammate and the importance of team unity.
Central defender Christie Rampone isn’t just captain of the team, but the 36 year-old plays a more important and demanding role as the mother of two children. Voted the 2010 Most Respected Mom in Sports, Rampone also played this World Cup while suffering from Lyme Disease, a debilitating auto-immune disorder that can cause fevers, fatigue, headaches and depression.
Other things we can take from our U.S. Women:
* Playing or being the best doesn’t always mean you win.
* Women’s sports can be just as exciting (and maybe even more!) as men’s sports.
* Be gracious and classy even though you’re disappointed at losing.
* Time can heal some wounds. Sometimes you can take advantage of second chances and remake your image.
Did any of you watch the game with your daughters? What was their take on the U.S Women’s team? Share your thoughts below.
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