Friday, July 15, 2011

Pet peeve

It's been a pretty bad week for sports figures to rely on cliches when it comes to commentary. It may get worse on Sunday.

Last Sunday, the United States pulled out a thriller over Brazil in the Women's World Cup in one of the most dramatic games in recent history, especially considering the circumstances. The reaction to the game by the participants was pretty interesting. Here's a quote from a wire story:

"There's something about the American attitude," that kept the team going, said U.S. coach Pia Sundhage.

There were similar comments from the other players, and some of the analysis of the media followed that line. Now, I'm all for heart and teamwork and grit and all those other things. But most of all, I'm a big fan of talent. As John Wooden once said, not every team wins with talent, but no team wins without it. Somehow, talent -- not to mention what struck me, someone who is no expert in the game but who has watched some soccer over the years as a defensive breakdown -- got downgraded.

The Americans scored the tying goal in stopped time while short-handed. That's like tying the Stanley Cup's Game Seven while playing four skaters on five. Maybe harder, since hockey has less scoring. All credit to the U.S.A. for that.

Lots of credit should go to Megan Rapinoe. She launched a cross from, what, 40 yards?, with her wrong foot no less, to exactly the proper position. Abby Wambach was in that right spot, and buried the scoring opportunity. Is Rapinoe's pass something like an NFL kicker making a field goal from 40 yards away to tie the Super Bowl, except the goalposts are about five feet wide? Maybe.

Meanwhile, there was a replay of the goal that showed a defender and goalie from Brazil hurrying toward Wambach in a futile attempt to stop the play. Reviewing here, one of the best finishers in the world is in front of your net, and you leave her uncovered? Yeah, and let's give Michael Jordan an open jumper with the game on the line.

Here's, then, to the U.S. team that has some of the world's best players on it. Let's not forget to give them credit for that. They've earned it.

1 comment:

Kerry Lightenburger said...

Hi Budd, in an hour or so, I'll be watching the women's World Cup final from the home of my friend's in Berlin and struggling to keep up with the TV coverage in German. Since I don't know anything about soccer, I don't know what will be more difficult, the game or the language!!!! Go USA!