Puck’s Friday Happy Hour: The USWNT Quarterfinals Edition: Watch, or Don’t Tread with US Soccer Anymore
Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome back into the Happy Hour. It’s been two weeks since the traumatic Gold Cup Final, and I have finally begun to come to terms with what took place. Yes, it was not the result we wanted, but it is certainly not the end of the USMNT as we know it.
Over the last couple weeks, the suits in Chicago have not been very forthcoming with any changes they intend to make regarding our head coach. Sunil Gulati was able to slip out of Pasadena without commenting on the status of Bob Bradley remaining the head coach of the USMNT. Last week he was asked a very straightforward question; “Will Bob Bradley remain coach of the UMSNT?” In an email response Gulati replied “We’ll have something to say later this week.” Well Sunil, it’s been two weeks, and we have still yet to hear from you, outside of a few comments on the (predictably) shameful behavior of Mexican fans (mostly Mexican Americans) towards USMNT fans at the Rose Bowl during the Gold Cup final. A brief word of warning: if I get hit with a urine bag on home soil, I won’t react as passively (and admirably so) as some of the “California dudes” pelted with batteries and urine at the match. I guarantee you I’ll be looking for some measure of revenge. So behave yourself, folks. Act like you’ve been there before. Mexico has a class team, and as we’ve learned of late, a class captain and leader in Rafa Marquez. Too bad we can’t say the same for their fans. Shameful. Back to Bob.
I know Bob is your boy and you may be struggling with this decision yourself, Sunil, but if you plan on making a change, make it happen now. Don’t wait around and act like an indecisive, non-combative Scandinavian nation: no one likes those. This blogger is going to go ahead and assume that no news is good news for Bob Bradley and the rest of the USMNT coaching staff.
While USMNT fans await word of what will happen regarding the coaching future of Bob Bradley, there is another international tournament taking place that any soccer fan should be paying attention to. I am of course referring to our beloved USWNT and the FIFA Women’s World Cup currently through the group stages in Germany. I have been following this team for quite some time for one main reason, Abby Wambach. I have a personal connection with this team as Wambach is from my home town, the suburbs of Rochester, New York. Even though she did kick my ass in high school, I have been pulling for her vigorously during her time with the USWNT. For those of you not paying attention, the USWNT won its first match against a tough North Korean side, putting the communists to down 2-0. Game 2 was an absolute 3-0 trouncing of Columbia where the USWNT looked poised for a serious run in the tournament. Finally, the US suffered a tough luck loss against Sweden going down 2-1. On the bright side, the USWNT still has not given up a goal in the run of play. The Swedish goals where the result of a penalty kick, and an own goal on a set piece. They’ll need to remain responsible in the back to have a chance.
Now that group play is over, what does a second-place group finish mean for the USWNT? With a total of 6 points, the Lady Yanks for the first time failed to win a group and as a result, they will play another soccer power house, Brazil, who in Marta boast the world’s finest player, in the quarter-finals. I know this was not this was not the dream match-up for the squad, but they were going to have to beat both Brazil and Germany at some point in accomplishing their goal of winning it all. The good news for the USWNT is that while Brazil has offensive talent, their back line has been their weakest point in recent years.
For all you jackwagons out there who insult women’s sports, this post is not for you. Take your club, your chauvinistic “Me Tarzan, You Jane” attitude back to the cave where you came from. You are not welcome in the Happy Hour. Now, for those of you that have not been paying attention to the USWNT simply because you don’t feel any real connection with this team, or because you used up all your long lunches on the men’s tournament last summer, I want to give you a few reasons to watch the final three rounds.
Ian Darke – Remember this moment? I am sure you all do, but the moment holds special significance because the announcer calling the game was just as excited as we all were when the US defeated Algeria to win the group. Darke is back again calling each of the USWNT’s games during the WWC. Expect more hilarious and witty commentary from the Englishmen. The best thing about Darke during the WWC is that John Harkes won’t be around to muddle up one of his beautiful calls.
We Are Good – Unlike the USMNT, the USWNT is a dominating force of the global scale. Watching the USWNT is nothing like watching the USMNT. When watching the men’s teams, everything needs to fall perfectly into place in order to make a statement in an international tournament. Die hard supporters of the USWNT are disappointed with anything by complete intergalactic domination because our team has an incredible level of talent. If you don’t think the USMNT has enough combination play and meaningful possession, watch the USWNT and feel good for a change. And if you are into comparisons—watch Megan Rapinoe, who Editor-In-Chief Neil W. Blackmon has correctly dubbed a female Stu Holden. It might make you sad thinking of how much Holden was missed this summer, but it should make you happy that with Stu back healthy, the USMNT will be a better side. Rapinoe certainly provides an engine-like motor and defense-breaking acumen that is thrilling to behold. The USWNT is currently ranked number one in the World by FIFA, and despite a tough quarterfinal draw, we actually have a chance to win this thing. The USWNT may not have won a World Cup since 1999, but they have won consecutive Olympic Gold medals in both 2004 and 2008, and beaten every side left in the tournament in order to do just that. While there is only one player remaining from the 1999 World Cup Winners, this team has just the right combination of savvy veterans and youthful talent to get the job done.
Hope Solo – For years the USMNT has been known for their seemingly endless supply of international goalkeeping talent. Well- guess what? The same can be said for the USWNT now that Hope Solo is back to her former self after a devastating shoulder injury. Besides being an absolute smokeshow and the woman of my dreams, Solo is without question one of the premier women’s goalkeepers on the planet. Before the Sweden match, Solo was in the middle of a 5 game Women’s World Cup shutout streak. Unfortunately she conceded two goals, but neither in the run of play. As noted above, the first was a penalty kick, and the second an act of God deflection on a set piece. The USWNT will need her skills if they plan on moving into the semi-finals.
Patriotism – I am well aware that the Fourth of July was last week, but patriotism should be an all day, every day, type of thing. This weekend, you have the excuse to fire up the grill, drink beer, and light off leftover fireworks in the name of Uncle Sam, all because the United States is playing in an international competition. If you can’t support the USWNT, you most likely hate hot dogs and apple pie, which of course makes you a communist. Not feeling motivated, hopefully Bill Pullman can do the trick. Or another Bill, William Jefferson Clinton, further magnifying the summer of sax.
Make sure you tune in to watch the USWNT take on Brazil, Sunday at 11am on the four letter network.
PUCK’S FREE ADVICE
First, don’t spend $76,000 on an engagement ring. Second, don’t propose to a woman unless you know she will say yes. Finally, don’t actually give the $76,000 ring to a woman unless she says “yes”
I will leave you with one of the most under rated 90’s grudge jams ever. Vedder + Cornell = Super Band.
Sorry for partying.
Puck is the Pop Culture Guru for The Yanks Are Coming. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and you can follow him on Twitter, which we strongly recommend if for no other reason than when the EPL starts again, his Man City rantings are hilarious, at @PuckLovesPBR.
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