I hadn’t planned it, but am having a slow single-parent weekend and tuned in by accident. I was hooked in the first 30 seconds and watched three of the four. I probably won’t be able to take in any more, but I’d unhesitatingly recommend that you do if you can.
Compared to the men’s event, it lacks some power and pace; but there’s no shortage of elegance or precision or passion or courage or desperation. My heart was in my throat over and over.
There’s less of the childish cowardly diving and related sleaze that taints the men’s version; but it’s not entirely on the up-and-up. In particular the Brazilian women need to un-learn some of the lessons they’ve absorbed from those other players with Y chromosomes.
One thing the women’s game does have is a small but noticeable contingent in warpaint; I’m talking makeup, and not just a little bit either. It’s interesting that some wear it but others don’t. I can’t, as a mainstream straight man, claim that I look at women the same way I do at men, and that’s just fine. The faces that touched my heart were mostly without warpaint; but not entirely.
France over England, on penalties · Fair result. The English were gallant but the French were deeper and better conditioned. It really shouldn’t have needed the penalties, particularly since England was hardly there in the overtime. Both of the regular-time goals were brilliant, particularly Jill Scott’s opener.
Germany 0 Japan 1 · I started watching this match neutral but the Japanese women won my heart with their extreme courage against the heavily-favored (not to mention larger) hosts.
Maruyama’s extra-time goal combined raw speed and neurosurgical finesse. I don’t see any of the postgame write-ups bowing in the direction of Japan’s back line and keeper Kaihori Ayumi; which is stupid, because you don’t take home a 1-0 win against Germany without something special there. Kaihori was quiet but I thought magical.
USA over Brazil, on penalties · OMG. This game had more drama than the last two or three rounds’ worth of games in the last men’s World Cup.
I went in mildly pro-Brazil because they were the underdogs and after all I spent last week there. But, like the German audience, I was more and more in the US camp the further the game went on.
A few points:
The US opener was technically an own-goal, which is irrelevant. That cross in from the left was totally lethal; put the ball in at that angle and pace ten times and you’ll score five of them, doesn’t matter who it went off.
I’m not sure if the ref’s call on the repeated penalty shot was right or wrong, but I respectfully disagree with Jason Snell’s take in There’s Always Hope on the excellent new American McCarver. Marta was going to score and was dragged down and the right outcome was a red card and Brazilian goal.
If FIFA doesn’t like people like Snell instantly assuming corruption on every vaguely-shady play, they should stop being so lame and corrupt.
Brazil’s Marta is a story that writes itself. She runs faster and shoots better than anyone else in women’s football and it’s not close; that second goal was pure voodoo. But on the pitch she’s a nasty piece of work; I thought the whistles and boos she was getting from the German stands were well-earned. Still, it’s a pity that she won’t be playing in the semis and final.
That Rapinoe-Wambach nuclear strike in the dying seconds. Wow... things like that are why live sports is about the only thing I turn on the TV for. Nobody could ever dream of scripting it.
Anyhow, the better team on the day won, and yep, Hope Solo is a superstar, warpaint or not.
I probably can’t spare the time off Wednesday for the semis, and hope to be on an island next weekend, so that’s about it for me and the Women’s World Cup. But I want to thank them all for giving so much of themselves this weekend; I was enthralled.