American Women: Fun to Watch Running Around in Soccer Shorts
And you know what I think of soccer. A potentially entertaining game is ruined by archaic offsides rules, ridiculous fake injuries and the worst officiating of any sport on the planet.
Combine those two on Sunday and we got ... magic.
It was 12 years ago to the day that Brandi Chastain scored on a penalty kick to beat China in the Rose Bowl and give the U.S. the Women's '99 World Cup. Since then, though, little progress has been made in the push to make women's soccer a mainstream sport. A major professional league came and went and for the most part, if you're not an 8-year-old girl with a pink jersey on a team called the Hot Shots, you don't give a damn. (As big as youth soccer is in North Texas, I'm shocked none on the U.S.' 36-member player pool is from around here.)
I scoffed in Las Vegas at the sportsbooks actually taking bets on the 2011 Women's World Cup.
But yesterday morning I gave the U.S.-Brazil quarterfinal try. And, boy, was I rewarded.
It wasn't as exciting or meaningful as, say, Josh Hamilton's walk-off homer against the A's Saturday night in Arlington, but the American's penalty-kick victory over the Brazilians did provide a patriotic punch to my skeptical kisser.
The U.S. led 1-0 after a Brazil own goal, then were tied 1-1 after a ridiculous do-over penalty kick awarded Brazil. Playing 10 on 11 after having a player ejected, the U.S. fell behind in the first 15-minute overtime. But down a goal and a player and in extra time of the second overtime, the Americans tied the game in the 122nd minute on a gorgeous, gutsy header by veteran Abby Wambach.
In penalty kicks, goalie Hope Solo saved a shot and Ali Krieger put in the game-winner that set off jubilation in Germany and vibrated my phone with texts of "didja see that!"
For a memorable Sunday morning women's soccer gave me a thrill and even a couple chills.
In return, I'll extend them an apology. Well played, women.
I might even find time to watch Wednesday morning's semifinal against France.