Women's World Cup Soccer News: The Post Mortem on U.S. Loss to Japan
FIFA Women's World Cup 2011. Photo Credit: ISI Photo
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"Coming in second is like kissing your sister." George Haines, Santa Clara Swim Club, UCLA Men's Swimming and US Olympic Team Coach
OK. Time to pour out the Nigori (that's unfiltered sake best served chilled), the Japanese Women's Team won the 2011 World Cup.
This was a fun and exciting tournament to watch. America beats Brazil? The French? Sacré Bleu!
But when it comes to yesterday's final match, what can you say? America lost? Yeah, they lost in the final game, they made it to the finals, THE FINALS, that means they beat just about every other team they could beat (except the Swedes), and they're arguably one of the best teams in the world. (I like the fact that Japan beat Sweden. Take that little living-above-the-arctic-circle Stonehenge Shuffle y'all did after scoring a goal and, well, you know, you get the idea.) They fought the Japanese women to a draw, and lost in a shootout, which can go either way. This time, it just didn't go America's way.
In fact, the Americans were the best team in the world, having won this tournament in years past.
They just didn't prove it this time around. And unfortunately, they're from America, where coming in second is, well, like what George said: like 'kissing your sister'. (Since it's the women's team, is that like 'kissing your brother'? Hmmm.)
As always, when you win, nobody has to give any sense of perspective. You pop open the warm champagne, and hose everyone down, typical locker room World Series style or NASCAR victory circle style. When you lose like this, and a shootout is certainly a lousy way to lose, you have to put it in perspective.
So here's that perspective. The American Woman's Soccer Team doesn't have anything to prove. They've proven they win, and they win consistently. They are a force to be reckoned with.
America's here to play and here to stay, baby, no doubt about it.
So, begging the question. What's up with the Men's Team? We consistently . . . well, we consistently . . . qualify? Yes. Show up? Sure. Win? Maybe sometimes.
We're not the winners on the block, the storied team, the one that gets to pop the champagne and hose down our teammates and the hapless reporters and camera crew in the way of the stream of bubbly. We're certainly not a team to be taken lightly. England found that out in 2010. But we're not to be feared, because sometimes we win, and sometimes we lose, and it's hard to tell which it's going to be when we show up at the stadium. Witness our recent showing in the Gold Cup, a disappointing showing, to be sure.
Like Apollo Creed said: 'You fight great. I'm a great fighter'. As a team, we play great. Brazil, Spain, Germany, Mexico, as teams, they're great players.
We've got our work cut out for us.
One of the issues foremost on management's mind, and that has to do with any of America's national teams in various sports, is international playing exposure. Before you could be invited to join a National Team, you had to have some international playing experience. But what I'd like to point out to those running the Corporation, because I think they've forgotten, is that soccer is for young people.
Watching the U17's competitions in Europe, South America and yes, here in America, there are a lot of very, very good players at this level, those with the foot skills, the deeply ingrained understanding of the game, and some with rockets up their rear ends, you know, who can go from zero to mach 3 like a cutting horse. Add to that our national ability to 'bring numbers' as well as resources to bear on a problem, and the conclusion is that we should literally be overwhelming the world on the world soccer stage. Why aren't we? Management said that we'd win the World Cup in 2010. We're going backwards. We didn't even make the semi's, as we did versus Germany in 2002.
But let's cut to the chase. Donovan, Dempsey et al, these guys are swell players, perhaps some of the best in the world. But they're not winning games. They're not getting it done.
OK, so I'm an 'out with it' type, and there it is. It's time to give the younger guys a chance. Our team has too many old guys. I can say that, because I'm an old guy. Old guys rule. Right. Youth and exuberance is no match for old age and treachery. Perhaps. Old guys are good players. Certainly. However, at some point, having the same guys on the team year after year, because they've played together a lot, and have a lot of international playing experience becomes a fool's errand, especially if they're not consistently winning games. All the experience in the world doesn't mean anything if you're not winning games. At what point is there the 'changing of the guard' as it were?
Maybe that time is upon us.
Just sayin'. Because it's America, and we don't like having to settle for kissing our sister.
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The NEW Women's Soccer editorial section is sponsored by the San Diego SeaLions. We deeply appreciate the SeaLions helping to offset the costs associated with this editorial coverage and want to acknowledge their tremendous support of women's soccer.
SeaLions one of the oldest female soccer clubs in the USA. The WPSL is a sixty-plus team national women's soccer league with five conferences and is considered one of the top women's soccer leagues in the world. For more information, please email Amie Becker