Passion, suspense, drama; this World Cup had it all. In the fourteen years I have been watching soccer, this is one of the best major soccer tournaments I have ever seen, women and men’s. It was full of surprises and improbable comebacks; it has Disney written all over it. This tournament, easily, had a couple of the best soccer games I have seen in a very long time. It was definitely better than the letdown in South Africa or the noncompetitive Gold Cup. This Women’s World Cup displayed brilliance in the closing moments on numerous occasions with underlying stories behind each of them. From the United States trying to get out of their 99’ shadows to Japan playing for a broken nation, this World Cup was something special.
Here were some of my favorite moments.
- Canada’s Christine Sinclair refused treatment after breaking her nose then proceeded to curl in a nasty free kick in the 82nd minute in a 1-2 defeat to Germany.
- French internationals Geatine Thiney, Elodie Thomas, and Corine Franco posing nude to garner publicity.
- Hungarian referee Gyoengyi Gaal allowing Equatorial Guinea defender Bruna to catch the ball off a deflection from the post and drop/play the ball like nothing happened.
- North Korean coach Kim Kwang Min blaming their loss to the USA due to some of their players being struck by lightning.
- England and its penalty crisis.
- USA’s Abby Wambach’s game tying header in stoppage time of the 2nd extra time against Brazil, allowing USA to prevail in a penalty shootout on the anniversary of the 99’ World Cup winning penalty shootout.
- Japan’s Karina Mayuma’s game winning goal in the 108th minute to stun two-time World Cup defending champs and hosts Germany.
- USA’s Alex Morgan.
- And off course the World Cup Final.
Regardless of which team you were rooting for, this final delivered excitement and drama. The United States looked like the more dominant side throughout most of the game, but couldn’t squander their chances. When they did finally tuck one in, they gave Japan life by not being able to clear the cross to safety. In extra time, Wambach gave the USA a slight lead in the 104th min., but once again Japan showed their resiliency by tying the game off a Sawa flick in the 117th min. Then in a penalty shootout, everything went wrong for the United States as they missed their first three shots. The underdog Japanese squad, once again, pulled another surprising upset, this time winning the World Cup for the first time in their nation’s history. From a neutral prospective, it was a beautifully played match. Heck, even the referring was really impressive, as the game flowed smoothly.
Hats off to the Japan’s Women’s National Team as they perhaps just pulled their version of the “Miracle on Ice”. Me, being half-Japanese, wrote this team off before the tournament even started. Oh man, was I wrong. The crown was well deserved, especially when you have to beat teams like Germany, Sweden, and the United States. Nobody had picked Japan to win those games, but they somehow pulled it together in the end and produced an astonishing finish. The team showed good character as they used the inspiration of the natural disaster to stir their will to win for their country. With everything that has happened with the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear crisis, the World Cup was able to reunite the Japanese people giving them something to cheer about. The soccer gods or god ,in general, was definitely watching over this team. Watching the way this tournament unraveled for them was just destiny.
Also, congrats to the USA Women’s National Team, they too played hard and got the nation talking about soccer (which is very rare). The World Cup Final only broke a record for tweets per second (7,196), topping the death of Osama bin Laden. It was a very good run and final. It just wasn’t their time. They should be proud.