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Archive for July, 2012

USWNT v France

What a game! USWNT fought back from going down 2-0 very early to a dangerous France team.  But, as always, never lose faith in this team. If anything, it fuels them to go harder, faster, stronger, and fight their way to the back of the net, and that they did. Opponents should know that if you score a goal against the USWNT, they need to brace themselves because the US is coming at them, hard. Abby Wambach put the USWNT on the scoreboard off of a Rapinoe corner kick. Nobody was marking her, which is a big mistake and will be punished. She fueled the fire for Alex Morgan to equalize the goal. Unfortunately, Shannon Boxx went down and was subbed off by Carli Lloyd in the 17th minute. She has a hamstring injury, and more details are unknown at this point. I hope that she makes a very quick recovery and that the injury isn’t too serious, we need her on that field, not only for her physical play, but her knowledge and her wisdom. France looked very dangerous, but for the most part, other than a few slip ups and obviously the two goals almost back to back, the back line was pretty good.

Amy LePeilbet played one of her best games I’ve seen all year. She chased down balls, put pressure on players, and was very strong. Rachel Buehler also did quite well, she doesn’t have as much pace as Kelley O’Hara or Christie Rampone does, but she helped recover the ball and sent some up to the forwards. Kelley did okay as well, she is still trying to figure out her role as a defender, but seems to be doing alright. Her speed and playmaking ability really benefits the team. Christie Rampone saved us a few times, especially when Thomis of France broke away and only Christie Rampone and Hope Solo were in the USA’s half. She ran Thomis down and the ball went out for a goal kick. She’s still one of the fastest defenders in the world, she’s a mom, and she’s 37. Yeah, 37.

Carli Lloyd scored an absolutely beautiful game from long range where we know she loves to strike the ball. That ought to hush the critics for a while. She scored the go ahead goal, and then Alex Morgan scored the fourth goal. Tobin Heath sent in a tricky ball, Abby Wambach distracted the goalkeeper by basically sliding full speed and full force right at her, that would distract anyone I’m sure, and Alex finished it quite easily. Give credit to Abby for the distraction, if she didn’t slide in, the goalkeeper or defenders could have had a chance to recover.

There’s something about this team and the bond they have with each other that is unlike any other. They never get down on themselves or each other. They trust one another, they depend on one another, and they always fight on, TOGETHER. No one leaves anybody behind, the only way they know how to win is winning as a team.

There are some things that Pia, the staff, and the players will need to address going into the next game. Putting pressure on the ball will need to be emphasized. Getting Lauren Cheney, the playmaker and the one who can determine the pace of the whole game, more involved will be important. Rapinoe was very involved today and will need to continue that. Tobin Heath was fairly quiet today. She will need to impact the game more as well. The team is still shaky when the ball is in their box. They had the tendency to scramble and because of that, it resulted in a goal. They need to mark the opposing players closer and communicate with each other. Syd the Kid made her first Olympic appearance; Heather O’Reilly surprisingly did not play at all. Becky Saurebrunn who Christie Rampone has called the future of the backline, did not play either, and of course, we’ll need to see if Shannon Boxx will be in the starting lineup come Saturday. We could and probably should expect some changes in the starting lineup.

This was a big first win for the USA. They have a lot of momentum going into the game against Colombia.  Let’s enjoy this victory tonight; come tomorrow the focus will shift to Saturday. But today’s victory was their first step on the Road to Gold.

“Somehow we always like to make things a little dramatic for the fans, so you’re welcome.” -Abby Wambach


It’s Go Time

            In less than 24 hours the USWNT will be on the field, playing their first match against France. This marks the beginning of their road to redemption after coming up just short of World Cup gold. Will they do everything in their power to be on top that podium come August? You bet. Maybe the sting of a loss like they had in 2011 will stay with them forever, but a gold medal might be the one thing that can tone it down. It won’t be easy. France is a great team with many threats and a fun style of play, but that isn’t anything the USWNT won’t expect. They know how difficult their opening match is. It’s all about taking each game one at a time.

            As difficult as this is to say, this could be the last major tournament for some players. I’m not going to name names, because if they haven’t officially said this is their last tournament, I’m not putting words into their mouth. But, for those who may consider this their last hoorah, it would be nice to send them off with gold. For the young players, this is the chance of a lifetime.

            The lethal duo of Alex Morgan and Abby Wambach will need to be in top form, the backline which has struggled will need to maintain their ground, Hope Solo will have to be alert, the mid-field will need to maintain possession and play the crafty style we’ve seen the past few games. Megan Rapinoe and Lauren Cheney will have the opportunity to dictate the game. It seems like a lot to handle, but this team is ready. However, it’s not just about the 11 on the field, the players on the bench, the reserves, the coaches, staff, everyone plays a part.   

            The adrenaline is pumping. If I’m this excited, I can’t even imagine what the players are going through. It’s finally here. We’ve been waiting for what seems like a century, but tomorrow, they’re taking the pitch again, for something that eluded their grasp a year ago. Gold.  When they pull on that red and white striped jersey, look into the stands at the supporters screaming “USA, USA, USA!” a chance at redemption lies right in front of them. The team’s destiny is in their hands only; it’s their time to show the world that they are champions, because tomorrow, the road to redemption begins. Buckle up.

“I am a member of a team, and I rely on the team, I defer to it and sacrifice for it, because the team, not the individual, is the ultimate champion.”

London 2012 USA

All I can think about is the Olympics. I know, it’s weird; I’m probably a little too excited for the games to begin, especially soccer. My mind is going a million miles per hour right now. I have so many ideas for what I want to write about, but I can’t decide one topic. The Olympics, there’s something about the name, something about the venue, it’s just an indescribable event. Where else are you going to see a race decided by less than one flap of a hummingbirds wings, a fingernail, one final stretch that determines gold from silver?

There will be no stone unturned for any athlete competing. When you put on that uniform, you no longer compete for yourself, you compete for the name that’s printed on the front of your chest. When you see your name up on the board, you should know that every ounce of what you have was poured into it. The years and years of hard work, sacrifices, working out instead of going out, all the times you thought you couldn’t do it but mustered enough to get back up and do it again, all the things that at the time, you didn’t think would matter, well, now they do.

A chance like this only comes once every four years. The opportunities are once in a lifetime. So, to all the athletes representing the Stars and Stripes, enjoy the moment. Soak it all in. Never forget where you came from, the work, the dedication, everything that got you to where you are now. Have the confidence to know that you worked harder than the guy next to you. You are Olympians, something not many people get to say. And to you I say, let’s hope your experience in London is golden.

Keep Hope

Hope Solo has been in the news recently. She was in it after the USADA found a banned drug in her system. She was in it when the ESPN article about what goes on in the Olympic Village came out, which by the way, if you haven’t read, I wouldn’t recommend reading it unless you want to know some pretty, well, “scandalous” stuff. Yes, she said she was drunk on the Today Show after they had won gold. But, what I find utterly infuriating is how the press is now twisting all of that and basically they have turned Hope into a drunken steroid user, which of course, she’s not. First, yes, she partied when she won gold, but that’s her choice, not ours. What she does or doesn’t do in her life is solely up to her and nobody else. Secondly, in no way did she use steroids. I’ve said it and I’ll say it again. I don’t think Hope would jeopardize her position on the team using a PED that she clearly does not need. When people see a banned substance was found her system, boom, automatically she must have used steroids. Wrong.

Hope has been getting a bad rep recently. Okay, she spoke out in the controversial ESPN article, but does that make her a bad person, I don’t believe it does. You can have your opinions just like I have mine. I know she has way more supporters than she does haters. That, I am happy about.

I read an article today in which Hope was interviewed and talked about her life, all the things she had to fight through to be where she is now. Some of the things she’s been through people will never have to in their lives. She’s fought continuously throughout her life when I’m sure many would just give up. What she’s accomplished despite major road blocks in her path to the top has made her one of the strongest athletes ever. She’s the best in the world at what she does thanks to hard work, dedication, and never giving up.

There will be the haters, the ones who criticize her for what she’s said, but if we’ve learned anything by now, it’s that Hope is outspoken and will say what she wants. Yes, she’s made headlines in the news recently. What was published in those articles, whether true or not can’t be unsaid.

We’re all human right? No person is perfect; no one has a perfect life. What we gain from things that, in the moment, break us down is the reason we are able to succeed. We’re not born judgmental, what someone may or may not do around us is not our position to determine. Hope has come a long way from her beginnings. She came from a town in Washington to play on the world’s stage.  In my opinion, what she’s been through in her past out-trumps what she’s said the past couple weeks.

“I feel bad for those who judge with their eyes and not with their hearts. Let’s not sensationalize things for the sake of news and call it the truth.” -Hope Solo

USWNT vs. Brazil One Year Ago Today

“Oh can you believe this?!? Abby Wambach has saved the USA’s life in this World Cup!!!”

One year ago today, Abby Wambach scored arguably the biggest goal of her career. A year ago today, Megan Rapinoe sent in the best cross of her life. A year ago today, the USWNT played a game that will never be forgotten. A year ago today, the USWNT captured a nation’s attention. 

Not only was this team fighting Brazil, a very good team, they were fighting the referees and Brazil’s antics to waste time. I think Hope Solo described it the best, “It seemed like there were 3 funerals on the field.” But the USWNT kept fighting. Down a goal, down a player, and down time on the clock, they never hung their heads. That shows how much heart this team has. All the frustrations they were probably feeling, they never showed. Instead, they just kept playing.

Erika blatantly dove on the ground, pretending she had a back injury, then jumped off the stretcher the first chance she had. It’s a little fitting that the time her “injury” took provided us just enough time to score. Starting all the way from Christie Rampone, then Ali Krieger, Carli Lloyd who passed it to Megan Rapinoe, she launched the ball and there stood (jumped) Abby Wambach who headed it into the net, less than 90 seconds away from a World Cup exit.

If Megan Rapinoe hit the ball 1/4 of a degree higher, it would have been caught. Abby Wambach had .05 seconds (the equivalent of one flap of a hummingbirds wing) to time her jump and direct the ball into the net. We could have been 1/4 of a degree and .05 seconds away from the earliest exit ever for the USWNT.

But, we went on to win 5-3 on penalty kicks. On the anniversary of the USWNT’s win versus China, Hope Solo saved the 3rd penalty kick just like Brianna Scurry did. When Ali Krieger kicked the last PK into the net, the whole nation went crazy.

Through all the ups and downs that this game had, the USWNT never gave up, they never were dejected. They fought back from sure diversity to win and captivate a nation.

“That’s best part about being on a team. It’s what makes this whole thing so much more special because I can look at somebody else and look at them and say ‘Can you just believe that that happened?’ and Hope says ‘Yeah, I can.’ -Abby Wambach

Hope Solo Fails a Drug Test, Can We Move On?

            Okay, so you probably heard that Hope Solo failed a drug test on June 15. Now, depending on what you have read (or not read) on Twitter and in the articles, it was an honest mistake. The thing I don’t understand is how some people didn’t spend 5 minutes of their time to read the tons of articles about this. They just jumped to the conclusion that she was using Performance Enhancing Drugs.

            So, here are the facts. She was using a pre-menstrual medication in which her doctor prescribed and watched over her use of it. She was not aware that Canrenone (a banned drug) was an ingredient in it. She told the USADA everything they needed to know once she did fail the drug test and fully cooperated with them, accepting the public-warning.

            Immediately she became a world wide topic. I clicked on her name and started reading the comments. Some were telling people to chill, but I was truly annoyed that some people called her a man or accused her of using steroids because she has muscles. News spreads fast, especially on Twitter, so now that one person spread the rumor that she was using PEDs, thousands of people saw that and spread the word. Before you start talking about a topic like this and spread rumors, PLEASE LEARN THE FACTS.

So, you want to know the reason Hope has muscles, because she works out for 2 hours twice a day at the highest level of women’s soccer in the world. Unless all of a sudden you know everything there is to know about a women’s period, don’t start spreading rumors around the internet. I’m not trying to attack anybody. But the fact that her using PEDs was even stated (more than once, by the way) even though there were articles all over saying it was a prescribed medication and she won’t miss the Olympics should be enough information to where people can just drop the topic. She’ll be standing in the goal for the USA in less than a month, helping the USWNT try to bring home gold for the country once again.  

Olympics are Coming Fast

I can’t believe the USWNT leaves for London, TOMORROW. That means the Olympics are approaching, fast. Before we know it, they’re on a plane to England. I am so excited, I can’t wait for the games to start. If I can hardly wait, I can only imagine what is going on inside the players’ head. They said they don’t want to use the word “revenge”, I don’t either; it’s a pretty strong word, simply, it’s gold or bust. There are several newcomers, Megan Rapinoe, Amy LePeilbet, Alex Morgan, Sydney Leroux, all of them are players who will have a huge impact throughout the tournament and add something extra that the team didn’t have four years ago. Abby Wambach is making her first appearance since her game winning goal against Brazil in 2004 and her leg break in 2008. Christie Rampone is returning to her fourth Olympics, setting a new record for Olympic game appearances.

In ’08, yes I was excited for the Olympics, but this year, it’s different. I think it’s because with the USWNT receiving more attention then they have had since ’99, the build-up for London has been extreme. Everybody can’t wait. All the excitement is mounting. The build up to the opening game is getting bigger and bigger. We all know they’re hungry for gold. Who would of thought that bringing home silver in a World Cup would bring this team more attention than a gold in the Olympics?

The team says there is unfinished business. We already know that the USWNT was a runner up in the 2011 World Cup. It’s true that I still kind of cringe whenever I see that last PK go in the net for Japan. But that’s done, it’s over with. They didn’t win, that result isn’t in their power anymore. They brought home silver to a country that looked at them as heroes. But, what is in their power is this time, now. London is their time. They’re coming into the Olympics, redemption on their mind and will do everything they can possibly do to win gold again.

All the eyes are on this team. It’s not going to be easy. Every ounce of what they have will be required. It’s going to take a lot of grit, guts, and stamina, but this team is up to the task. Come the end of the Olympics, I think we all hope that they are standing on that top podium. Reclaiming their gold medal once again.

“There is no better motivation than getting so close, inches away, seconds away from becoming a world champion. So now we have the Olympics on the horizon and for me, it’s gold or bust. I will be leaving my entire being in London, whether I like it or not.” -Abby Wambach