The beauty of international sports is most evident when an entire country unites in support of their national team. These matches can transcend athletics, and become about the pride of a nation and its people. Six days after the USA celebrated its Fourth of July independence day holiday, the USA’s Women’s World Cup soccer team gave Americans another big reason to celebrate and rejoice in one of the greatest U.S. sports triumphs in history.
The stage was set for a memorable match in Dresden, Germany. Four years ago in China, the Brazilians humiliated the United States, 4-0 in the semifinals, to stun the favored Americans. However, the USA had since defeated Brazil four consecutive times. The Americans took the pitch against “The Samba Girls” of Brazil 12 years to the day of beating China on penalty kicks to win the 1999 Women’s World Cup. In marking the anniversary of that championship victory, the USA would once again need a dramatic penalty kick shootout in Dresden to prevail.
With 120 minutes of play gone, three minutes of stoppage time were added for the faked injury of Erika in extra time. The United States started deep in their own half until play quickly
continued over the midfield line, finally climaxing with Megan Rapinoe’s rocket cross from the left side. The ball sailed past the outstretched mitt of keeper Andreia, and onto Abby Wambach’s forehead. She skillfully knocked the equalizer into the net and let out a yell that was echoed by many American fans. The goal is the latest ever recorded in Women’s World Cup history.
The ensuing penalty kicks were defined by Hope Solo’s save that allowed the United States to clinch the victory, but Wambach’s unparalleled late heroics will be what many people recall from this match. No matter how the American women finish this campaign, they will never be forgotten for what they have already achieved. In a country where neither soccer, nor women’s sports, is widely followed, these 21 women gave their fellow Americans something to come together and cheer about.
This blog post written by VOA intern Nicholas Berault.