Blog Entry

Unthinkable: U.S. women out-closed, out-finished

Posted on: July 17, 2011 6:47 pm

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

There were a lot of scripts for today's Women's World Cup final that ended in defeat for the U.S.A. against Japan. The one it followed had to have been the most far-fetched of all.

Because if there was one thing the U.S. knew they could rely on, one strength they could always fall back to, it was their ability to finish. No team was fitter. No team was more resilient. No team dealt better with pressure. Down a goal and a player in the 122nd minute to Brazil? No problem. Tied 1-1 with France with 15 minutes to play after an hour of French domination? We'll win by two. 

So when the U.S. went up 1-0 thanks a brilliant Alex Morgan strike and took that lead into the 80th minute, you could have forgiven the watching nation for believing the Cup was within reach. But the crushing defensive lapses that had hamstrung the U.S. in group play reared its head again, two failed clearances from Rachel Buehler and Alex Krieger leaving Aya Miyama to stab home from close range. Cup: back out of reach.

OK, so it's extra time, but they're the U.S. No problem, right? It looked that way when the terrific Morgan turned her defender and lofted a pinpoint cross that Abby Wambach headed home with maximum authority. 2-1 up and with the clock ticking under five minutes to play, the Cup was within the U.S.'s reach. Again.

But with the American defense suddenly -- and surprisingly -- looking dead-legged, Japan mounted a last-minute surge and forced a corner. That corner fell to Homare Sawa, Japan's best player and the tournament's high scorer. 2-2. Cup gone. Again.

But they'd done it at the absolute death of overtime once already, right? And sure enough, with just seconds remaining, Heather O'Reilly somehow broke free on the right flank to cross to an unmarked Wambach just six yards from goal. Wambach, the U.S.'s certain closer, the U.S.'s cold-blooded assassin, their finisher of finishers. But the ball fall fell to her feet, rather than her head; the one-time shot skewed wildly over the bar.

But with Hope Solo in goal and the kind of precision on display in their 5-for-5 ouster of Brazil, surely a penalty kick shootout would belong to the U.S. Right? Please? 

No. The U.S.'s first three penalty takers (Shannon Boxx, Carli Lloyd, and Tobin Heath) went a stunning 0-for-3. It was over. 

It was unthinkable. A loss? Not a shock. But like this? As not just the second-best team, but the second-most resilient team, the second-most clutch team?

It's the sort of defeat that -- like the U.S. men's loss to Ghana in the wake of Landon Donovan's heart-stopping goal against Algeria last year -- cannot help but take some of the shine off of the Brazil comeback that first seized the country's sporting attention the Sunday before. As amazing a moment as that remains, quarterfinals aren't finals. Goals scored in the 122nd minute don't count more than ones given up in the 117th. Losses from ahead are every bit as devastating as wins from behind. That's sports.

That's not to say the U.S.'s one shootout loss should overshadow what came before it. The USWNT took advantage of this tournament to re-establish themselves as one of the world's elite sides. They reminded the nation of the drama and power of the sport they play, just a year before they look to defend their Olympic title. They lost to a deserving champion, one who punished opponents' mistakes mercilessly throughout the tournament and did so again today. The U.S. should remain immensely proud of their accomplishments, and the nation should remain immensely appreciative of the giddy ride we've been taken on.

But assessing the Americans' entire tournament means also assessing the Final's last 10 minutes of regulation, that final 5 minutes of extra time, that dreadful shootout. And as brilliant as the U.S. was in Germany, there's no way that assessment can't conclude that the U.S. chose the worst possible time to close in the worst possible fashion.

It's not the script we expected. And after 12 long years, the U.S. must now wait four long more for their World Cup rewrite.


Since: Jan 16, 2008
Posted on: July 18, 2011 12:12 am

Unthinkable: U.S. women out-closed, out-finished

This will go over like a fart in a space suit, but I thought Solo was this unstoppable goal keeper? Sorry, but of the three games I saw, she didn't impress me.
They did don't give up a goal like that letting them tie the game in the last minute(s)....terrible.

Since: Jul 17, 2011
Posted on: July 17, 2011 11:00 pm

Unthinkable: U.S. women out-closed, out-finished

I coached soccer for 10 years and love watching the sport.  However, the penalty kick shootouts are eye pollution and have to go!  They are a horrible way to settle a tie, and a horrible thing to watch as a spectator.  They need to go to a straight up golden goal after 90 minutes.  

The current format of 30 minutes of extra time does not provide urgency incentive to score.  It just continues the same regular time.  Dumb.

Golden goal.  Nuff said.

Since: Jun 8, 2011
Posted on: July 17, 2011 10:23 pm

Unthinkable: U.S. women out-closed, out-finished

Qtl234 - I never said we DIDN'T fact I stated that we had many opportunities on goal.  We should have been up 2-0 at half!  Just having played and coached the sport, sometimes things just don't go the way you plan and "destiny" takes over (perhaps I should have said KARMA).   Given it was the Japanese team and they were playing for all of the catastrophe stricken people of their homeland, they had the "national pride" advantage.  Probably would have been a different result had this been 2001.

Since: Apr 2, 2010
Posted on: July 17, 2011 10:02 pm

Unthinkable: U.S. women out-closed, out-finished

BTW PHANDE2BLAQ you must be a man hating fugly dyke!!

Since: May 13, 2008
Posted on: July 17, 2011 10:00 pm

Unthinkable: U.S. women out-closed, out-finished

All I can say is Japan women soccer team did their thing and congrats to them. The Japan team had more too play for than the US soccer team and they got nothing to be ashamed of, as long as they give it their all. When they make a movie about it i will go see it.

Since: Apr 2, 2010
Posted on: July 17, 2011 9:59 pm

Unthinkable: U.S. women out-closed, out-finished

Hey I have 2 girls and a wife and they love me!! I am just being honest.. soccer sucks and womesn soccer is even worse. I treat women like queens like thay should be treated not playing a sucky ass sport like soccer!!

Since: Nov 30, 2008
Posted on: July 17, 2011 9:44 pm

Unthinkable: U.S. women out-closed, out-finished

Maybe they think U.S. men are fugly !

Since: Nov 30, 2008
Posted on: July 17, 2011 9:44 pm

Unthinkable: U.S. women out-closed, out-finished

"Who gives a rats .... Its soccer and freaking womens soccer for crying out loud!!"

I can imagine how you treat your wife ! You just wanna keep 'em barefoot and pregnant and fetching beer for ya huh while you sit in your barcalounger scratchin ya boys, belchin and watchin nascar ! 

I wonder if your mom feels proud knowing how you feel about females ! 

Since: Apr 2, 2010
Posted on: July 17, 2011 9:37 pm

Unthinkable: U.S. women out-closed, out-finished

Who gives a rats .... Its soccer and freaking womens soccer for crying out loud!! For all I care the US could have won and a parade in Manhattan would attracted maybe 1000 lesbians and 100 female wanna be's. Way to go Japan! Hopefully this will stop people from trying to make soccer a mainstream sport. Lets make Rugby a main stream sport. It would attract more people and be a real sport better than wussy ass soccer!!

Since: Jun 19, 2008
Posted on: July 17, 2011 9:32 pm

Unthinkable: U.S. women out-closed, out-finished

You are Spot on. The US allowed the Japanese women to hang around.
THey missed too many opportunities and did not put their foot on the neck of their opponent.
Too much playing with the ball by the fullbacks in the 81st minute that caused them to lose the lead in regulation tine.
Then in extra time to fall asleep on a corner is inexcusable.

When you let an opponent stick around, you miss many scoring opportunities,, play around with the ball and can't hit PK's you do not deserve to win.

Might I say Carli Lloyd sucks. No she did not lose the game but she is a black hole with the ball. She has many opportunities to do something and tried to continuosly go through 3 players.

When Lauren Cheney went out, the US lost their ability to take her sorry butt out of the game.


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