7/2/15 The Women’s World Cup

The Women’s World Cup has been an outstanding success thus far, and we still have the final to look forward to.

In my opinion this world cup has been nearly as good as last years. Sure, we haven’t had the fairy tale story of Costa Rica making it to the quarterfinals, or the shocking blowout of Brazil losing 7-1 to Germany, which was quite likely the most surprising and astonishing game of soccer I have ever seen in my short life. But we have seen Australia win their first ever knockout round match (men or women), we’ve seen England make it to only their third ever semifinal in world cup history (this includes the men’s team world cup history), but the first time the English Women’s National Team had ever made it that far–only to go out on one of the most bizarre goals yet seen in a world cup. Absolutely devastating for the player involved as well as a country that has been yearning for a successful national team since 1966.

Now, on Sunday we see a rematch of epic proportions. Nobody gave Japan a chance back in 2011 and this time around I’m not giving them much either. After the USA’s display against the most vaunted attack and what seemed to be the most complete team in the tournament, in germany, I can’t see what is going to slow the USA down.

Jill Ellis has made some very important tactical changes to the starting line up over the last couple days which has given Carli Lloyd more freedom in the attacking third, and she has proved to the world she is ready to shoulder that responsibility. While Alex Morgan has been coming off an injury, having her play a full 90 minutes against Germany was, perhaps a bit much for her, as she’s still shaking off the rust–however, it is good to know she can go the distance, if not the 120 minutes it might take if Japan is able to take USA to overtime in the final. But how many people were thinking of Morgan’s shot which went right at the German keeper even though she was on a complete breakaway, when Sasic stepped up to the penalty spot only to miraculously miss German women’s first ever penalty kick in a world cup, bringing their conversion record to 17-1.

This drama has been nearly as great as that of last summer’s. The difference I suppose is having a team with a chance of winning. Did anyone think the USMNT would ever actually make it past Belgium last summer? Sure, we played them toe-toe well into overtime, but Belgium, with all their star power, was a horribly underperforming team. Even with the chance Wondo decided to put wide, which would have seen us make the quarters for the first time since 2002, the USMNT chances of beating Belgium were slim, and eventually, in that game, Belgium found the quality they needed.

But now some different American’s have made it to the final. The way they’ve got there hasn’t always been pretty, but it’s been enough, and just maybe, it will give the United States a reason to cheer about soccer.

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9/22/14

Where was dad? She scanned the crowed. Mom was two roads back and Brian–it didn’t matter where he was as along as he wasn’t laughing and talking in the auditorium with his friends. At her last recital, ugh, so embarrassed, Brian talking the whole time and distracting her co-dancers and after the show people wondering who those boys were talking the whole performance and she pretended like she didn’t know.

Now her father hadn’t even made it. Her mother was just sitting next to an empty seat, stage right.

The music fluted over the speakers, it was almost her chance. If she did well this year maybe someday she’d be lead next–probably not, though. They only gave the leads to the senior or above and only to really good dancers. You are really good, Dad would say if he could be in her thoughts.

Huh, now’s your chance to prove it, Al. She took a step at her que. The bells around her wrists and ankles jingled. She held her head high, eyes near the catwalk, step and step, she brought her eyes slowly down to where Maya Ness was standing looking from side to side. Maya was Gerda, the heroine.

Al held her arms up and bent, then flowing out and stepping toward Gerda with a jingle of bells. Gerda turned to look at Al. The reindeer, Bae. Somehow Al knew, before the look on Gerda, or Maya’s face turned to black, small shock, that something was wrong. Al’s eyes widened. Her heart was suddenly in her throat, the heat of the stage lights intensified. She suddenly needed to pee horrible. It always happened when she got nervous. She tensed and leaned her head to one side as if it were part of the dance, then continued her step.

Maya Ness wasn’t an idiot. She recovered quickly, following along with Al as if there was nothing wrong. But Al’s face was burning. How could she have made such a stupid mistake. Ugh! Goodbye lead, goodbye life. She could have screamed at herself.

The rest of the scene, her part in it, ended in a blur. She fell into her steps so easily and didn’t rush, but tried to leave her thoughts and embarrassment behind. It didn’t matter that the audience hadn’t noticed. Or maybe they did–she didn’t know.

When she went off right with Maya they trotted back stage.

“What on earth is wrong with you?” asked Maya.

“Nothing,” said Al. Maya was taller than Al by half head with dark straight hair she’d inherited from her Japanese mother. “I just forgot.”

“You’re a fucking reindeer, Alex. It’s not that hard to remember,” said Maya.

Al caught her breath. She’d never had someone talk to her like that before. Maya used words meant to hurt. And they did.

“Just go find your antlers and do better in the next scene,” said Maya. “You aren’t the only one that looks like an idiot when you mess up. You leave us all hanging when you do something like that.”