As determined as the 2011 U.S. Women’s Soccer Team’s bid was to end the long drought, having not won the World Cup since 1999, it appeared to be a formality. After all, they never lose to Japan. That’s why it hurts double today, because they were in position and had so many opportunities, including the lead twice, once in regulation 1-0 with nine minutes left, and 2-1 in overtime with three minutes to play.
Let’s face it — they blew it. Or did they? Not many people gave Japan a chance.
But that’s why you play the game.
This was an intense emotional international battle, and when you’re the United States leading 2-1 in the final minutes, you cannot give up that lead. However, Japan tied it and then the U.S. just imploded in the penalty kick, losing 3-1. Japan’s goal keeper, Ayumi Kaihori, was brilliant.
Sometimes a team, like its fans, get, caught up in the anticipation of victory. They can’t wait to celebrate…and overlook their opponent for just a minute. I’ve said it many times: To finish first, you must first finish.
Japan was not given a chance and they knew it. This was Buster Douglas knocking out Mike Tyson. This was the New York Jets upsetting the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III. This was Y.E. Yang beating Tiger Woods at Hazeltine in the PGA Championship.
Japan had never ever beaten the U.S. ever! Believe me, 25 times previously Japan had lost to the United States in soccer. Never before had Japan reached the final of any major tournament, much less the World Cup! Emotion and determination are powerful tools, and Japan had plenty inside.
March 11 the devastating effects of a double-whammy natural disaster, earthquake and tsunami, leveled Japan, with nearly 23,000 people dead or missing. This motivated group of women from Japan refused to believe the hype of U.S.A.-U.S.A. all the way. All they wanted to do was give their people, those affected in their country, a glimmer of hope.
“We ran and ran,” said Homare Sawa. “We were exhausted, but we kept running.” The American women were in a win-only position; this was not Pearl Harbor. This was a game, not a war. But they will be haunted by this collapse.
Fitz Notes & Quotes
This is a big week. The Vikings said they will wait until July 18 to let Mankato University know if they plan to have training camp. The NFL lockout continues. Much progress is being made, but it ain’t over till it’s over.
DeMaurice Smith, executive director of NFLPA, told Arizona Cardinals star Larry Fitzgerald, Jr., “You and your teammates have been great leaders. We are a completely different group. This is history in the making.”
The Vikings’ odds of having Sidney Rice and Ray Edwards on their 2011 rosters is about as good as Japan’s chances are of beating the U.S.A. in the World Cup.
Minnesota Timberwolves will have open auditions in their search for talented and energetic women passionate about dance. August 1 the Timberwolves and the Graves 601 Hotel will host open auditions at 6 pm. Registration is 5 pm. Prep classes have started: Email email@example.com for more details.
This weekend at Target Center, Extreme Challenge 188, the MMA card main event Saturday, July 23, 7 pm, Larson vs. Davila.