Sunday, July 17, 2011

Women's World Cup: We Can't Not Watch

At 11am, Pacific Standard Time, we'll gather around our plasma screens or our computers and cue ESPN. Some of us will chant "U-S-A". Some of us may be wearing jerseys, others may have been so festive as to paint our faces. Collectively, we'll be rooting for a team that two months ago, the majority of us hardly knew existed. The names were foreign then; they're celebrities now. All it took was one Hail Mary cross into history.

Hope Solo. Abby Wambach. Megan Rapinoe. Ali Krieger.

These are names that are inspiring a new generation of soccer players, male and female. They are taking the places of the Mia Hamms, Brandi Chastains, and Julie Foudys. These are the names that are making a country care about a tournament in Germany that they otherwise wouldn't even had known was ongoing. This is mostly a country of baseball lovers and NASCAR addicts. (Soccer hardly has a pulse beyond AYSO.) But we're a country that loves drama. A final second goal by Landon Donovan made us care about the men two years ago. This year, it took an improbable comeback against a chippy rival to stir interest. That happened against Brazil and the world's best player, Marta. Fortunately, the Hail Mary cross found its target. Wambach did the rest. And a country had the Cinderella Story it needed in order to care.

The tournament in Germany comes to a close today: USA vs. Japan in the World Cup Final. Thank you, ladies, for making us care.

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