Monday, December 23, 2013

The Water's Fine

U.S. Soccer ran an on-line "tournament bracket" asking fans to choose their "best moment" of the first 100 years of soccer in the States.

While admittedly the results were overly-weighted to recent events (the Men's team's third place finish in the 1930 World Cup - it's best ever - only made the third round), the fans seemingly tended to voting for "best moments" (as the competition suggested) rather than team achievements.

I voted in most of the rounds, but it wasn't until after I cast my vote in the finals that I realized that both finalist moments were ones about which I had previously written posts.

In fact, they were posts with a similar theme, and were similarly … well, gushy about soccer in general and the men's and women's teams in particular.

The winner? Abby Wambach's goal at the death in the 2011 Women's World Cup quarterfinal against Brazil to send the match into overtime. It was that goal that I waxed poetic about in a post that was based on the theme that began with the other finalist, which was ...

Landon Donovan's goal, also at the death, against Algeria in the 2010 Men's World Cup which sent the U.S. into the round of 16, and soccer fans across the States into a frenzy not seen before for any soccer match of any kind. That post, too, was based on the wisdom of Delmar in Oh Brother Where Art Thou? and his invitation to partake of the waters of salvation.

Did Wambach and Donovan redeem soccer in the U.S.? Well, in retrospect, perhaps not completely. After all, the men lost their next game to Ghana in 2010 and the women lost in the World Cup final to Japan later in that tournament.

Wambach's perfect header.

But they certainly excited more people than just me about our national teams and soccer in general. And arguably set the stage for the women's 2012 Olympic triumph and the men's resurgence under Jurgen Klinsmann. I can still remember going crazy in my family room, with my son and a co-worker who had ditched work to watch the game.  It was kind of like this:

And their reemergence in the poll allows me to say, one more time, "C'mon in, the water's fine."

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