Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Sting of Defeat, The Promise of Continued Greatness

I have to get at least some words on the page if I have any hope of sleeping tonight. I still haven't progressed past the point of shock. I am utterly stunned to have witnessed the end of our world championship run. I'm not upset, I'm no longer worked up. I'm just speechless and dumbfounded. You look at the team that created miracles where none were to be had against Brazil. You look at the iron will of Abby Wambach, the steel resolve of Hope Solo, the composure and speed of Christie Rampone, the spark of Megan Rapinoe, the consistency of Lauren Cheney, and you have to wonder how this team could have walked away without the World Cup trophy. I just don't understand. There were the skeptics who said it would harm American soccer if we won, questioning the wisdom of reinforcing the smash-and-grab style of power and fitness futbol that the U.S. have relied on to this point. But the irony is, we didn't play that game. We outpossessed an incredibly technical, talented, precise Japanese side, and we controlled the flow of the game. We just couldn't find the back of the net. And in a game of inches, of seconds, of half-chances, of guts and glory, that proved to be the difference. Too many posts hit, too many just wide, too many over the crossbar. Too many chances wasted.

As I struggle to process the reality of today's loss, and wonder how the players are attempting the same, I look for the silver lining. Regardless of the outcome, our girls put on a show. It was an exciting game to watch, a thrilling tournament to witness. I hope that the bandwagon fans recognize greatness when they see it. Abby's rocket of a shot off the crossbar. Christie's goal-line clear. Alex Morgan's beautifully threaded cross finding Wambach's head, and her even more phenomenal finish on the first goal. Hope coming up big again despite the weight of impending loss. LePeilbet's flying deflection of a through ball. A guitar-playing, Simon-and-Garfunkel-singing, fearlessly positive coach. There is hope for U.S. soccer. This will sting for a while. And for some, the chance for a world championship will not come again.

But I still get chills when I watch Rapinoe's cross just out-distancing Brazil's keeper and "that beast" getting ahold of it for one of the most exciting plays in sports history. I still pump my fist when I see Solo denying Daiane's PK. I still hold my breath when Carli Lloyd strikes one from distance. I still put my faith in a 36-year-old soccer mom's legs when she chases down a breakaway. And for another four years, and for life, I will bleed red, white and blue with these incredible women, these amazing athletes, these unwavering role models. They are still my heroes.
I reserve the right to make this blog as worthless to read as I feel like, and also to write as infrequently as I deem necessary. Just thought I'd let you know since I finally decided to share my blog.