Blog Entry

U.S. women gripping the States to soccer

Posted on: July 13, 2011 2:54 pm
Edited on: July 13, 2011 4:18 pm
 

Posted by Brian Stubits

This is how a country can endear itself to a sport it has yet to really accept.

The U.S. Women's World Cup squad has been gripping. It has been beyond entertaining. And speaking for myself, it has inspired an even stronger sense of patriotism.

I am still trying to figure out the more amazing part of this Women's World Cup: the fact that people in the U.S. are paying such close attention to soccer or that they are paying attention to women's soccer. Let's be honest, women's sports take a back seat in interest level. Even in tennis, a sport where the interest is near equal, the men always play their finals after the women.

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Best I can tell, the interest seems to be almost as high as it was in the men last year in South Africa. The ratings don't show it being on par with the men, but you could have fooled me.

I took in the quarterfinal game against Brazil in a sports bar and was somewhat stunned to see the people on hand watching the game, erupting into celebration with Abby Wambach's game-tying goal. Suddenly, Uncle Sam's army was spreading, bringing out some soccer aficionados cheering on the ladies in the red, white and blue.

Names like Wambach, Hope Solo, Megan Rapinoe, Carli Lloyd, Alex Morgan and Heather O'Reilly now exist in a lot of sports fans' vocabularies. Moments like this from Rapinoe help too. Now there is more than Mia Hamm and Brandi Chastain to Americans.

Of course, winning helps too. Winning always helps. Especially in such exciting fashion. Is there anything Americans love more than winning?

The Brazil win will go down as one of the greatest games in U.S. soccer history, men or women. But the 3-1 victory over France today was no slouch in the intrigue department. The Americans were dominated by the French for the first 70 minutes of this game. The U.S. had one chance early and scored. After that, it was all France, including a second-half score by Les Bleus, leading to a lot more nail-biting in the States. That was until Wambach found herself on the far post with a header opportunity again, this time coming off a corner kick. Suddenly, the USA was up again and flipped the game's script that fast. With the French defense forced to press, Morgan snuck by and tacked on the icing three minutes later. The U.S. is back in the World Cup final.

Now I'm no fool. I understand that in a few week's time this will largely be forgotten and soccer will remain more or less a niche sport in the States. But every time there is a team like this or moments like Landon Donovan's goal against Algeria last year, the game gains more steam in the States. It has to.

This has been great soccer. Yes, the team itself has made for some compelling games by their late-game heroics and the like, but it really has been good soccer. And fans who say they won't watch soccer with the flopping? It's just not as prevalent in the women's game as the guys.

It is getting hard to ignore this team. And at this point, I'm not sure why you would want to.

Comments

Since: Dec 2, 2008
Posted on: July 15, 2011 5:44 pm
 

U.S. women gripping the States to soccer

You guys are operating in a bubble again if you think anyone, or at least any guys, care about girls soccer.  No self-respecting dude I know would be caught dead watching it.
You've got a serious case of Little Man's Sydrome.  It's almost the weekend and on Saturday and Sunday afternoon men I know watch sports.  It's going to be the British Open, Women's Soccer and Baseball this weekend and as long as you crack an ice cold beer or pour a couple fingers of bourbon or scotch then you're doing it right.  I just hope that Hope Solo rips off her jersey after they win.



Since: Apr 7, 2007
Posted on: July 14, 2011 10:57 am
 

U.S. women gripping the States to soccer

The reason I like soccer is even a short guy can be great soccer player.  You don't have to be muscular or 6 feet 5 to be great in sport.  You look at two best soccer players, Messi and Ronaldo, and they have very different physiques.  And look at Wayne Rooney: the guy looks like a boxer or construction worker, and he is one of the best players in the game right now.  

I disagree that LeBron or even Michael Jordan would have been great if they played soccer at an early age: It takes different athletic skills and different kinds of stamina.  

In my opinion, Messi is one of the greatest athletes in the world right now.  His passing skills, dribbling and finding spots to shoot are simply amazing. 



Since: Apr 7, 2007
Posted on: July 14, 2011 10:49 am
 

U.S. women gripping the States to soccer

Soccer is one sport where watching women play is just as enjoyable as watching men play.  Of course, you don't have Messi and the powerful kicks and speed, but other than that, women play with more intensity and don't flop or complain.  In other words, women play soccer like it's supposed to be played.





Since: Dec 15, 2007
Posted on: July 13, 2011 7:59 pm
 

U.S. women gripping the States to soccer

I think in one more generation, the tide will turn because so many kids today will be paying adults and have grown up playing the game. Unlike the current generations over 30 that most never played soccer outside the large urban areas.  It's the most popular youth sport in the nation hands down.  Key word here is youth; not adult.  Yes, it's bigger than baseball and football.  Get over it.  Part of that is because both boys and girls play.  The other reason is because soccer programs start about the time kids can walk.  It's the one sport toddlers can't futz around with.  Other sports like baseball, football, basketball, lax, etc. require fine motor skills just to start playing which develop at later ages. 

The reason why there are no ratings today is because the kids don't make the household or financial decisions.  The foundation is there.  The numbers don't lie.   


philsfan1
Since: Jul 22, 2010
Posted on: July 13, 2011 7:00 pm
This comment has been removed.

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Since: Feb 3, 2007
Posted on: July 13, 2011 6:32 pm
 

U.S. women gripping the States to soccer

looks like your just posting this on every site article that talks about soccer in a positive light...get your head out of your a** and move on you dont have to watch soccer you know? You can follow all the legal negotiations about the NFL on ESPN with lawyers speaking jargan you probably dont understand similar to soccer...you are probably typically frustrated with 3 things ties, back and forth running, and offsides since there is no yellow flag to tell you when a penalty happens...oh yeah and the headlines on sportscenter will probably be about soccer you know since our country's national team is in the World Cup finals and all...the arrogance is sky high at this moment



Since: Jul 13, 2011
Posted on: July 13, 2011 6:27 pm
 

U.S. women gripping the States to soccer

Philsfan1---seriously?    Your little league comment is laughable....little league is shrinking so fast many regions can't even have tournaments any longer.   Yep---in the northeast Lacrosse is growing i agree with you---and some in the midwest.....but no place else.   Soccer is the fastest growing youth sport in total.    You guys can keep denying it---but the facts speak for themselves.




Since: Sep 6, 2007
Posted on: July 13, 2011 6:19 pm
 

U.S. women gripping the States to soccer

I'm proud too not be a self respecting dude, not some sexist asshole, the real soccer fans I work with who blindly follows mens soccer love the women's team too. They even admit they look and play better than the men... and unlike our men THEY FUCKING WIN!



Since: Jul 13, 2011
Posted on: July 13, 2011 6:18 pm
 

U.S. women gripping the States to soccer

I can't speak for every region of the country, but I'd like to echo the commenter who mentioned the incredible fan support that the Portland and Seattle MLS franchises have.  I attended the Far West Regional tournament held in June here in Boise, and the number of people traveling from all over the West to see their teams play was phenomenal.  The quality of play was equally impressive.  Participation in this sport has grown and is growing strongly, and it is wonderful to see the resurgent interest with the US WNT, which I have followed since the mid 90s.  These women, with their grit, determination, enthusiam and teamwork--not to mention their athleticism and fitness--are wonderful representatives of our country. Go USA!



Since: Apr 7, 2007
Posted on: July 13, 2011 5:59 pm
 

U.S. women gripping the States to soccer

I must not be a self respecting dude.  Thanks for pointing it out.  :)


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