Yes, two Women’s World Cup posts in two days and we have a good reason to. Just when I thought I saw perhaps the best soccer game of the year thus far yesterday, the United States v. Brazil matchup just topped it. After going up one nil in the first 75 seconds, thanks to an own goal by Brazil, nothing went right for the United States. When I mean nothing, I mean zilch. It looked like everything was going Brazil’s way once the referee awarded a very controversial penalty (…..wait, two penalties kicks) and sending off of Buehler. IMO, this is the worst f’n call I have ever seen in my entire life of watching soccer. Yeah, Marta pulled a sick flick over two US defenders, but she didn’t have full control of the ball afterwards. She went airborne in an attempted shot which resulted in her and Buehler’s legs getting tangled. Buehler was just in the wrong place in the wrong time and no malicious intent was involved. For a referee to award a penalty, let alone a red card, is absolutely ridiculous. What’s even worse was the lovely Hope Solo (I want to marry you now) made a magnificent save on the penalty kick attempt, only to be retaken due to her “moving off of the lateral line”. I’ve seen so many goal keepers take 2-3 steps forward and never get called. Solo did nothing wrong and moved laterally instead of in a forward direction. This is clearly a legal move by all FIFA standards. Some may argue that a US player may have run into the box early, but what kind of ref seriously calls that? That is a kind of call you see in my recreational soccer league here in San Antonio. This referee crew was inconsistent throughout the entire match and has no business ever stepping field in any World Cup. This wasn’t the only huge call the crew missed, but Marta’s second goal was assisted in an offside possession. I don’t know how much Brazil paid these refs, but their officiating was absolutely pathetic in all soccer standards.
The United States was not only competing against Brazil, but also had a duel with the referees. Thank goodness justice was served. In the final seconds of stoppage time of the second extra time, the United States finally made an opportunity count. After having a few unlucky possessions, Rapinoe kept her cool and made a beautiful cross towards the back post to connect with Wambach. Abby showed her composure and provided the States with a world class finishing, tying the game in dramatic fashion. With the Brazilians stunning, thinking they had won the game, it was all set it done in penalties. The United States showed why they are ranked the number one team and finished all of their penalties with ease, also getting another big save from Hope Solo. How many legal saves does she have to make in one game? The United States, like Japan, showed heart and resiliency. Not only were they down a player but they were down a goal. They never gave up and showed strong mentality throughout the match even when things aren’t going their way. Many teams would have faltered in that situation, after going down a man (or should I say woman). Team USA showed the heart of a champion. This game could not have ended in a more dramatic fashion, especially on the anniversary of their 99’ World Cup winning shootout. I am proud to call myself a US national soccer fan, no thanks to the men’s team. This couldn’t have been scripted any better. Congrats to our US women’s team. Into the semi’s we go.
Final: USA 2-2 Brazil (5-3 PKs)
Player of the Match: Hope Solo, GK
Photos courtesy of Yahoo Sports.