Emotional day today for USWNT, Amy LePeilbet, and myself. In sport there are always winners and losers. Today, Sweden the winners and USA the losers. In life there is always death. Today marks a death in the history of US Women’s soccer. It’s the first time USA Women have ever lost in a World Cup Group stage. LePeilbet had a bit of a rough game to say the least, causing a penalty that resulted in Sweden’s first goal. And as if that weren’t enough, she also took a deflection off of a free kick that put the opponent 2 goals up. So that’s the bad news.
The good news? LIFE! Despite a historic loss, the USA advance coming out of Group C in second place. But for me this represents more than just a USA birth to the quarter finals. Today it represents something close to my heart: the birth of my first niece, born this afternoon. So today I’m a proud Auntie and a relieved Futbolita. Congrats big brother, Dakotah, and congrats for advancing, USA. Keep your heads up and hold ‘em high! Be thankful for this match as a lesson. Today, we get a pass through to the next round. If there is a time to lose, today was the day. Although bitter emotions of failure run deep, it’s these emotions that will propel and inspire our USWNT to step on the pitch a better squad.
What the team lacked today was unity. It’s easy to look to blame and naturally LePeilbet is the target. But how about the missed opportunities by Lauren Cheney? Or O’Hara’s perfect set up she put wide? If you saw the look on Hope Solo’s face after we conceded the second goal, you knew she was pissed- understandably. And if you saw LePeilbet throw her head back after she hopelessly watched the ball going in her own net, you knew she was devastated. What player isn’t familiar with these emotions? We’ve all been there. Maybe all the USA needed today was simply some reassurance. I didn’t see one player grab Amy by the shoulders, look her in the eyes and tell her “YOU GOT THIS! SHAKE IT OFF! LET’S GO!” Sometimes that belief that your teammate gives you is all you need to turn your game around. I got you LePeilbet, YOU GOT THIS! Shake it off! Let’s go Cheney! FOCUS! COME ON O’hara! You’re better than that! Say it. Believe it. And live on.
Today’s goals came from Sweden’s Lisa Dahlkvist (16′ penalty), Nilla Fischer (35′ free kick), and USA’s Abby Wambach (67′) who battled an achilles injury and was initially suppose to only play the first half. Coach Pia Sundhage said, “we had a conversation before the game about whether we would leave Abby out there or take her off after 45 minutes. We knew that we were already in a quarterfinal but then soccer is about feeling and positioning and I have so much respect for Abby Wambach. I asked her, we talked about certain situations, and she said “I want to play.” I think it was the right decision to make. She scored a goal and i think that will be important going forward.” And what did Abby have to say about staying on? “I’m not coming off the field. Unless Pia decides she wants off me off the field, I’ll have to have someting seriously wrong with me to not play. This is the World Championship, this is what we all LIVE for.” So live on USA.
USA face Brazil in the knock out stage, July 10, 11am EST. LIFE or DEATH. This time, it’s one or the other. Not both.
xo Your USA Futbolita