These days, events are deemed newsworthy by their frequency on a Facebook news feed. After defining the word "comeback," the US women's soccer team certainly found their way into our stream of consciousness. But from the way they played, it seems as if it was long overdue.
This squad battled back not just from a deficit. They scratched and clawed through the concept of soccer itself. There are many reasons why soccer is absolutely breathtaking, but certain aspects of the sport hinder its progress within this country.
1. The flopping: Brazilian player Erika took it to a new level (at least for the ignorant soccer fan that I am) by voluntarily falling to the ground and staying there long enough that she "required" a stretcher to leave the field. We saw this stalling tactic last year when Ghana did this to the men's team, but at least the Ghana dude played the role all the way through. Once off the field, Erika miraculously got up from the stretcher as if Jerry Falwell had pronounced that she could walk again. She then ran back onto the field.
She received a yellow card, but that meant nothing. If Brazil had advanced, the card would have been wiped out (semifinal reset). It was a strategic move, the type of thing that I assume happens often. But in what other American sport could this happen without a proper penalty? This goes to the second problem.
2. The lack of a stoppage of time: I love that there are no commercials from 0-45+ and from 45-90+. Commercials destroy our souls, save for the few artistic ones. But if Erika wants to fake an injury like the coward she is, then STOP THE FREAKING CLOCK! This preposterous behavior is rewarded and it drives me nuts. I would give up the beautiful aspect of uninterrupted futbol, and thus willingly endure lectures about how Rogaine foam grows hair back in 85% of men who try it, if it meant that this crap would stop.
3. The referees: The obvious problem that every casual fan complains about. Every other big time sport in America has a smaller area of play than soccer. And yet, they all have more referees. Sure, the line people (don't know what they're actually called) perform a service to soccer, but they're mostly useless when it comes to the most important situations: the contact plays in the middle of the field that they cannot see. Don't want instant replay? Fine, then add one more stupid referee. Stuff seems so simple.
But with all that, these girls won a place in my heart. Hope Solo has swag for days! I thoroughly enjoy her post-huge save body language. Abby Wambach is ALL HEART. She has so much heart that she might have enough to spare for LeBron.
Ok, it probably helps that I would allow a handful of these players to juggle my soccer balls any day of the week and twice on Sunday. But whatever works, right? I never thought I'd feel this way about a women's sport. Although I probably need to end this post before Blakeshow terminates my Mambino contract for 2 consecutive non-NBA posts (he knows that guaranteed contracts don't usually work, so I'm employed at-will).
Bring on France!