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Archive for May, 2012

USWNT vs. China

Well, wasn’t that just a fun game to watch? I was out on my pontoon boat with my family for the first 36 minutes, but I was following along on my phone. When I saw that China was up 1-0 after a sloppy start from the USWNT, my stomach dropped a little bit. But if you’re too worried about the score during the game, then you don’t know the USWNT too well. Any fan knows that they’ll fight until the end. Anyways, I pulled into the dock and literally sprinted up the hill to the house, up the steps, nearly tripped and fell on my face (I was wearing my flip-flops, not too easy to run in) ran into the house, tried to turn the corner while flinging my flip-flops off, nearly fell again, didn’t fully get them off so kicked them backwards, ran up the stairs, and then momentarily freaked out because I couldn’t find the link on ussoccer.com. Don’t worry, I found it; needless to say I could have killed myself, twice. Right as I turned on the web-stream, Alex Morgan had just scored. Then, I finally caught my breath and Megan Rapinoe had taken a free kick and Shannon Boxx kept it alive, Abby Wambach headed it, and then China scored the own goal. From what I saw of the first half, they did struggle to gain possession and keep rhythm, I knew that Pia would talk to them at half time. I’m not sure if it was because they hadn’t played an official game in 2 months, or because China had played them in a closed game and knew their game plan.

My thoughts:

During the second half, things took a turn for better. A lot better. There were some absolutely spectacular passing patterns between the team. They kept possession so much better, and created some great chances. I think a large part of the reason all this happened was because Lauren Cheney was substituted on. She has amazed me this past year when she switched to a mid-fielder. To see her and how much she’s grown over the years, I think she will be a legend of women’s soccer one day. She is so versatile and is truly an under-rated player. She deserves a lot more recognition than she receives, so next time you watch a USWNT game, keep your eye on her. Every time she is substituted into the game the whole entire flow changes, she makes an impact and it is seen right away. If the team is a little frantic, she calms it down and helps it keep possession. I saw that a lot today with her getting around defenders when it  was 2 v 1 and surely looked like they were going to force a turnover. A lot of chances are because of her, she assists many goals and is truly one of the backbones of the team. Luckily, she’s only 24 so we have her for years to come. I’m looking forward to a bright future for her.

Ladies and gentlemen, Alex Morgan. I think her performances really speak for themselves. 13 goals in 12 matches now?!? That’s amazing and to think she was a substitute for quite a while. 2 goals today, one critical to tie the game and then another goal to bring the team 3-1 over China, she is so dominate when she is one on one and no one can keep up with her. On her third goal she literally shook off a defender then struck the ball with her left foot into the back of the net. She’s on fire right now and it doesn’t seem like it’s going out any time soon.

Abby Wambach’s goal was impressive. First of all, even from close range, that goal was a rocket. It was an unbelievable goal considering the angle she was at, but she still managed to score. That’s not luck you guys, that’s skill.  It’s number 135 for her, she showed again today she’s dominate in the air, the Chinese players basically did everything to keep her on the ground. I think she was on the ground today more than I’ve seen in a while, they just kept knocking her down, pulling on her jersey, tripping her, whatever they could do, but she muscled her way through it and they couldn’t stop her from getting the ball in the back of the net.

I don’t know why so many people have been giving Carli Lloyd a lot of “crap” recently. I don’t know if anyone else has seen it, but I’ve read things like, “She’s doing nothing productive in the midfield”, “A roster spot is wasted”, “She turns the ball over way too much”, “She’s a field goal expert” (that one is in reference to her penalty kick vs. Japan or her kicking it over the bar vs China). Okay, first of all, let the penalty kick miss go, it’s done, it’s over with. Yes, sometimes she doesn’t convert chances and she turned the ball over, but everyone is entitled to a bad game here or there. You can’t be perfect every game. But she is talented, and we need her. She has experience and is a threat both in the air and on the ground. So give her a break, she’s doing fine.

As for the jerseys, I know there are several people who don’t like them. Well, if you don’t, you’re going to have to learn to love them because they’re not going anywhere (Sorry, that sounds mean). The number’s aren’t Nike’s responsibility, however, the numbers are going to be changed to a dark navy blue by US Soccer if I’ve heard it correctly. If you need a bright side to look at, you can easily spot our players on the field.

It was great to wake up yesterday and look forward to a USWNT game after 2 months of no games. It was such a fun game to watch and they sent home 18,753 people home happy, and countless people watching as well. It was a great team effort. Next stop, Sweden!

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The WPS Folds, but We Can’t Give Up

Well, to be completely honest I can’t say I’m super surprised that the WPS folded. While it is heartbreaking, it has been apparent that it is….err…was going through major problems that couldn’t be fixed in time for another season to begin. Countless years in a row it made no income and little attendance ever. The few times crowds were large was when the USWNT first got back from the World Cup and the WPS Final. For a league to succeed, especially a women’s league, crowds need to be large multiple games, if not every single game. That’s one of the ways to gain income. That and marketing more, getting the name out there, they had the starts like Alex Morgan, Hope Solo, Megan Rapinoe, and Abby Wambach, but the interest by the public just wasn’t there in time. It seems the news of the WPS folding couldn’t get any worse. But we must not forget the future. It seems that the future generation of soccer players comes up every time we talk about the WPS. It’s because this league gave them something to aspire towards. Somewhere they could play against top talent, somewhere that US Soccer could look for the future soccer superstars. Soccer isn’t really a main stream American sport. And even though it is starting to gain popularity, it is often overshadowed by the NFL, NBA, and MLB. And I hate to say it, but the fact that the WPS was a women’s soccer league doesn’t really help. Society is getting better, but some people still look at sports as a “man’s world”. Obviously, it’s not true. One of my favorite soccer quotes comes from Pele, one of the greatest soccer players of all time. “When I was playing, they said soccer was a man’s world and women should remain on the sidelines. All I can say is that I’m glad I never had to go up against Mia Hamm.” After the World Cup, I will say that they have received a lot more respect and attention, especially the USWNT players.

But with the league folding, where do the girls turn who dreamed of playing in it? Sure, now the USWL and others like it are going to be the main women’s soccer leagues, but I don’t think it’s very fair that professional soccer players have to play in a Division 2 League; they deserve a professional league. I like many others wish that they could play in a league like the UEFA Champions League or MLS, that tens of thousands of people piled into the stadiums hoping to get a glance at the players, that their favorite scores a goal. This would be the best environment for a women’s soccer.

If you ask me, “Do you think there will be another league any time soon?” Truth be told, I don’t know. It took several years to transition from the WUSA to the WPS. It may take a while. We’ll have to wait and see, let things pan out on their own. For now, we just have to continue to help bring attention to women’s soccer. The US knows and loves the USWNT which is amazing, now it’s time for more professional players. The ones that might not be on the USWNT, but still are amazing players. If we can show people who have the power and the money to invest in another league that America loves women’s soccer, it will show the interest is there.

Luckily, the 2012 London Olympics are close so come this summer we won’t be missing out on our women’s soccer. Even though the WPS no longer exists, we cannot dwell on the past. We have to keep looking forward. We must use this as a learning experience, so that the folding of this league isn’t the end of a professional league in the United States. We can remember the highlights that came with the WPS, the good moments, the nail biting moments, the ones where we stood up and cheered our heads off. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, we need to give a women’s professional soccer league a chance, even if it has its flaws. Nothing good ever comes easy, so we can’t give up.


Emotional Return for Fabrice Muamba

Last night (American time, two days ago for Europe I think) Fabrice Muamba stepped back on the pitch at White Hart Lane for the first time since going into cardiac arrest about a month and a half ago. Well, if you haven’t seen it, go to YouTube and watch it. I was brought to tears to see him walk out to chants of his name, a standing ovation, and 22,000 people who will now forever be able to say that they were there, the moment Fabrice Muamba walked back onto the field. I was brought to tears seeing him so emotional and it is so amazing to see a man who was technically dead for 78 minutes come back and inspire so many. So, keep inspiring, keep fighting, and most of all, thank you. Thank you for defying the odds and stepping back on White Hart Lane field.

“What lies behind you and what lies in front of you,

                                                                                                        pales in comparison to what lies within you.”