Yesterday, the USA Women's Soccer Team defeated Kim Jong Il's loyal followers 2-0 in the teams' opening match of Wold Cup play. For soccer fans, the win was expected, unimpressive, and rather dull. For the typical casual sports fan, the game meant less than nothing and took up 2 hours that Sports Center should have been on TV.
It is always good to see women's sports get recognized on the national stage. And the World Cup, men's or wormen's, is one of the most exciting sporting events that exists. Still, while enthusiasm for soccer has picked up substantially in the last decade, the world's favorite game still struggles to find a foothold in America.
What this World Cup needs in order to avoid coming and going by the wayside is a classic American moment. Brandi Chastain brought us one in 1999, and no witness of that celebration will ever forget it. (Skip to 5:20 for the Chastain game-winner, though I'd recommend watching the whole thing - it's quite dramatic).
While sports leagues within the United States have been going strong, competition on a national level has been disappointing as of late. The men's soccer team brought drama and excitement in the last game of group stage only to fall flat on its face in the round of 16. The U.S. hockey team had a chance to defeat Canada in overtime for the 2010 Gold Medal - a moment whose historical significance in the sports world would have been surpassed by only the Miracle on Ice - but Sid the Kid snuck one past Ryan Miller. Even basketball has disappointed. The USA won the gold but lost its "invincibility" during the 2000 Olympics, only to bring "The Nightmare Team" to Athens in '04. And baseball doesn't stand a chance on the international level, having been removed from the Olympics and replaced with the not-so-classic WBC.
America could use a few more iconic moments, and I suppose the 2011 Women's World Cup is as good a place to start as any.