Monday, July 18, 2011
WWC 2011 and the 3 G Network is in the Archives
Days have passed. In the midst of tending to laundry I spotted my "Solo" jersey in the hamper. "What could we have done differently?" I caught myself thinking. We wore the lucky shirts, we sat in similar order, we cheered just as loud and believed just as much as we did the day we arrived. If those are my thoughts as a fan, I can only imagine what mental anguish the team has relived as moments in the match replay in their heads.
That's what happens with true competitors. The moments that stick with you aren't the spectacular goals with time running out. Those are great, but the moments you cannot put to bed are the near misses, a misstep, an awkward clearance, a split-second mental lapse. Those stick with high level athletes and motivates them to perfect the imperfections, it helps each competitor improve. But that doesn't mean it is any less painful.
I'm sure those reading all watched the match. The U.S.'s team defense and ability to stay compact and together was as good as I have seen in the World Cup. They took away much of what had made Japan look so special up to that point. Many say Japan had their worst game. I agree, but it was due to the collective efforts of the U.S. defensive game plan. Yes, they still looked incredibly skilled and intelligent, but remembering the 1st half, the U.S. handled everything but finding the back of the net and Japan's attacking efforts were sparse at best.
I don't want to go into tactics, or "what went wrong" because my excitement about this whole trip was the fact I got to be a fan. The goal Sawa scored to tie up the game and take away the USA lead for the 2nd time must have sucked the life out of each and every player. Japan's expressions and body language stepping up to the p.k.'s mirrored the USA during the Brazil match. "WE are so excited! We have been given another life!" The red, white and blue players looked subdued, in shock, vacant. Maybe that is my take on it simply because that is how I felt. I believe every player thought they could pull it out, but their run to the final had left their "mental fortitude" guage on empty.
Japan and the USA played a fair, clean match. I found myself not rooting against Japan but cheering for the USA. Japan was able to possess and be patient in attack. In the 2nd half when they all decided the time was right to head for the goal; it was a choreography of some of the best soccer I have ever seen and it made me sit up and say, "Oh... No! Here they come!" So... much... fun.
So as we relive the highs and lows of the 3 G Network, we couldn't have asked for more excitement. We couldn't have been more proud to be wearing our country's colors and say, "Yes, we have a friend on the team." I was touched by the fact Hope was proudly wearing her silver medal at the post game reception, that Nicholas came back with a Lauren Cheney autograph, elated that "Mom! Lauren said, "THANK YOU!" to me!!" and that each player was just as gracious in defeat as they were in victory.
It was awesome to see former USA world champs everywhere. April Heirichs working for FIFA, Carin (Jennings) Gabarra, (who is now coaching at Navy) escorting Chelsea Clinton and Dr. Jill Biden to the final: ...on AirForce II I might add not an R.V. but I'm sure it was still fun. Julie Foudy, Mia Hamm, Kate (Sobrero) Markgraf, Brandi Chastain, Brianna Scurry, Kristine Lilly all following from the booth or on the field. Joy Fawcett, Danielle Fotopolous and Tiffeny Milbrett were all in the stands as number one fans of this team. They know how hard it is to win a gold. If Kristine Lilly had not been in the perfect spot, the '99 Story would have been completely different. These players are all pulling for the team that is now carrying the torch.
So when one tweet reads how the USA/Japan Match had more tweets than any other sporting event and the next post reads how a silver versus a gold medal lost the gals millions in endorsements, I scratch my head. I wonder why supporting and endorsing women who captured the attention of the world for being confident, well- spoken, athletic, courageous women that are the best in their field is such a risky venture. It seems like a gold mine to me.
Younger players like Megan Rapinoe, Lauren Cheney and Alex Morgan assured us that we are developing talent and will return to fight for that elusive World Cup gold. Older playes such as Hope, Abby, Boxxy and Christie showed us how experience can keep a team together.
And Japan, ... well as my friend said. "What a wonderful finish for both teams. They both played well..The U.S. shoulda, coulda but didn't...Japan is taking home more than a World Cup."
Thanks so much for following along. It was a great ride... literally. I am now driving a mini-van like it's a sports car, taking 3 minute showers thinking my token is going to run out and looking forward to the Olympics!
Pictures and thoughts from Gallimore will follow shortly. Jet Lag seems to be hitting us at different times. :)
As those of you that know Amy and I can understand...yes, when Amy asked me if I'd post last night at 9...I didn't even answer her, I just walked downstairs to bed as she started her laundry!
I really can't add much to what Amy has already said. This whole trip is really still sinking in. The experience our kids had is invaluable. What I was able to pick up as a coach, fan, and parent is invaluable. The enthusiasm this World Cup gave me to begin my 18th year as head coach for the Huskies is priceless. There are so many positive things that come from competitive sports, as Amy alluded to, it would be great if that would catch on just a little bit more in American society.
It was fun to get up this morning to my DVR and watch proudly as Hope and Abby "nailed" it on the Late Show with Lettermen! Can't wait for the Daily Show tonight.
I too am excited for London 2012, for Canada 2015 and what adventures that will bring for our U.S. Women's National Team and our family. Amy and I and our staff will continue to try and help any Husky player that has the National Team as their aspiration reach that level, but I will say it was probably the biggest thrill for me to genuinely and whole-heartedly be pulling for EVERY player on the U.S. squad and their coaching staff. I have so much respect for Pia, Marcia, Erica, Hege as coaches. And it was heartfelt empathy that I hugged and congratulated Pinoe, Beuhler, Cheney, Boxxy, Abby and all of the players that have been formidable Husky foes, but were now all on the same team, OUR team, America's team. We'll win another World Cup and I'll be there to see it. Can't wait.
Next up: Husky Women's Soccer 2011....it's bound to be a "good read" and we hope you follow along! Tschüss!