US Women’s Soccer team loses in the World Cup Final– wins anyway
In a match that few will ever forget, the United States women’s soccer team lost to Japan in the World Cup final. The game went all the way to a penalty shoot out, and somewhat inexplicably, US women couldn’t make it work. There was no remake of the 1999 fairy tale this year.
Although the US couldn’t deliver on World Cup dreams, the Women’s World Cup has gotten a lot of people taking a second look at women’s soccer. Long considered “second class” to the men’s game, this time around the consensus is clear: if you’re still claiming that women’s soccer is “slower,” you’re not watching it.
In a wonderful article at Sports Illustrated, Ann Killion noted:
when it was over — when resilient Japan had come back not once but twice from a one-goal deficit, when the U.S. players couldn’t convert even one of their first three penalty kicks, when Japan beat the U.S. team for the first time in history — there was an instantaneous 21st century reaction.
The U.S. women were ripped for choking away the game.
But that’s sports.
And ultimately, that’s what the legacy of this Women’s World Cup and this U.S. women’s team is all about. About athletes playing their sport.
And that’s the breakthrough.
That’s their legacy. And it’s enough.
Killion is right. There were still “breakthroughs” at the World Cup—a record 16 million Germans watched the last German game, Olympia Stadium in Berlin sold out and so did the stadium in Frankfurt for the final. Not to mention, Japan became the first Asian country to win the women’s World Cup—and at a time when the Japanese people could use a moral booster. And while some were still hooting and hollering at “babes,” the vast majority of fans—men and women—were just watching soccer. Just watching a sport. Just supporting their team. A team they saw on par with any other (men’s) team.
It looks like a new generation of Americans have a better chance at growing up aware that whether the athletes are men or women doesn’t matter. What matters is the game.