If you’ve ever expressed either of those opinions, I’d like to introduce you to Ms. Abby Wambach.
This goal — down a woman, with less than a minute to go before elimination, against one of the best teams in the world, in a game where every break after the second minute seemed to go against the U.S. — has to rank as one of the biggest in the history of American sport. Not quite to Chastain’s level in ’99, and not quite to Eruzione’s in ’80. But it’s bigger than Donovan’s in 2010, and I honestly can’t think of another one in the same ballpark as those four.
In a World Cup that’s had its share of upsets (Germany losing to Japan!) and drama (three quarterfinals going to extra time, and two to penalty kicks), nothing is certain. The USA squad is the top-ranked team left in the tournament, but they’ve already lost to another quarterfinalist — Sweden — and I wouldn’t sleep on France or Japan, the former of whom gave Germany all they could, and the latter of whom actually beat them. But win, lose, or draw the rest of the way, the U.S. team has shown a level of resilience the likes of which I’ve never seen from a U.S. women’s squad before. Of course, they haven’t needed it before; they were just better than everyone for a long, long time. Now that gap has closed. But the Yanks are still finding a way, even if at the very last second.
Let’s close with Parker and Stone.
I watched the game and it was one of the best games I have ever seen. There was so much drama and emotion that I can’t get it out of my head. The last goal by Wambach had me jumping up and down.
Too bad there is so little coverage of the game.
Men’s sports are boring, too. :P
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Really shows how little I understand about soccer. I don’t get how the Chastain goal was anywhere NEAR as exciting as the Wambach one. That shit was crazy!
I watch a lot of soccer – usually the top men’s league in England and the WPS here in the States, plus a couple of world championships now – and that was the best game I’ve ever seen.
There have been a lot of goals scored by the women in this World Cup that are (or almost are) comparable to what I see from the top men’s teams. The women are catching up fast. Now if only they would get the audience they deserve. In fact, I would not have been upset if Brazil had won because I would love it if they could get far enough to be taken seriously in their own country.
Purely measured as goals, unquestionably Wambach’s was the more exciting. But Chastain’s PK is bigger simply for what it represented. The 1999 Women’s World Cup was arguably the most important sporting event in the history of American women’s athletics. It proved, before a huge audience (both on television and at the sold-out Rose Bowl), that women could compete at the highest levels of athletics, and not merely be pale shadows of their superior male counterparts, but superstars in their own right.
Chastain’s goal cemented what was a tremendously important summer, one that finally kicked out the underpinning of sexism that said men would never root for women, that women’s team athletics would never be embraced by any meaningful number of fans, and that, as I alluded to above, women’s sports lacked drama and interest. No doubt, those attitudes still hold wide currency, but they’re hollow; ’99 was the beginning of the end for them. And as the brother of a woman who played soccer all the way up to Division I, I was and remain thrilled by it.
If the US women get all the way through this tourney, Wambach’s goal might become coequal to Chastain’s. It can never surpass it.
I used to be very excited about soccer and I watched a lot of games.
For my tastes, Wambach’s goal was not interesting at all.
But it’s a good thing that women are playing soccer.
Last year, during the men’s world cup, I was able to find nearly every single game from the group stage up on [file-sharing network of my choice].
I haven’t been able to find a single game from the women’s world cup.
It’s deeply shameful. I am hopeful but not optimistic that the final might show up.
It was amazing! We watched the whole thing, and then found a replay of the ’99 game and re-lived the excitement of that moment too.
I told my 11 year old daughter that she is mighty lucky that she was not named “Brandy” in light of our excitement over that game. I do expect a new crop of “Hope’s” popping up in U11 soccer in 2021…