Friday, December 4, 2015

Holidailies Day 4: Of Trophies and Belief

I feel like the last couple of days have been nice and deep and... slightly depressing. So today I decided to talk about something that always makes me super happy: Soccer. Specifically the World Champion US Women's National Soccer team. Who are pretty much the best thing ever, in my opinion.

I've long been a casual fan of soccer, particularly women's soccer. I played for long enough to get the bug in my system, even though I never went to competitive levels of play. There's just something about the game that gets a hold of my soul, and watching the way the ball moves across the field, the communication that leads to incredibly savvy runs, the ridiculously perfect crosses to meet those runs... I could go on, but I'll spare you.

The US Women's team has long been dominant on their side of the international competition (in stark contrast to the men's team, which can't seem to figure out a solid line-up to save their lives, but that's another conversation).  Even when no one knew about them, and they were having to fight for the US Federation to pay them at all, let alone a living wage, they were building a program that has always been one of the top teams in the world. And as of last July, they are once again on the top of the heap with the designation of the #1 team, having well and truly spanked Japan to make up for the heartbreaking loss of 2011 and win the World Cup.

This team is wonderful for a variety of reasons. For one, they are genuinely good people, and they are all dedicated to growing the game and being good role models. It is much more enjoyable to follow sports when the people playing the game are also fun to watch off the field. Part of that is the clear love and enjoyment they have being around each other. You can't fake that kind of love, and it's nice to see a team culture that embraces it and promotes it.

Then of course there is their actual playing, which is beautiful. I like women's soccer, because it seems to me to be more nuanced. It can be brutal, but there's not as much diving (unless you're playing Brazil), there's not as much dirty play, and I just like the tone of the games more. It's hard to describe. And when it comes to the world stage, the US is absolutely at the top of their game. They are fast, brutal, precise, and when they click on communication, they're virtually unstoppable. You have a backline and a keeper who combined to rack up over 525 minutes of scoreless play in the World Cup, which is nearly unheard of. You have Carli Lloyd who seems to thrive on the big games and can't help but being epic. Kelley O'Hara was a forward turned defender turned midfielder who scored her first international goal as a sub against freaking GERMANY of all teams. Abby Wambach barely played, but she was still the figurehead, and a leader off the field. Same with Christie Rampone, who is truly Captain America. The woman turned 40 during the World Cup and still comes out on the field and destroys forwards who are literally 20 years younger. Meghan Klingenberg is my spirit animal, because she is short and is basically a ninja in defense and it makes me exceedingly happy. Every player on the 23 person roster had the capability to come in and be a total gamechanger, and often they were. Watching the World Cup, even with their relatively slow start (in which they still didn't actually lose a game...), was pure joy. And watching the Victory Tour games since then has been a well deserved victory lap with some truly awesome moments.

I am very excited for this weekend, as the Victory Tour picks back up after their November break. I'll definitely be there on Sunday, "doing homework" while watching. It'll just have to be that way. I've been soccer-deprived the past couple of weeks, and I desperately need my fix.

Until tomorrow.

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