2011 Women's World Cup: What the U.S. Taught Us with Their Win over Brazil
In case you are not following the women's World Cup, one of the most dramatic matches in women's World Cup history played out yesterday in Dresden.
After falling behind 2-1 early in extra time, the United States were able to tie the match at two when a cross from Megan Rapinoe found the head of Abby Wambach, who was able to score into a narrow opening to extend an extremely controversial match to penalties.
With the momentum on their side, the Americans were able to win on penalties to set up a semifinal date with France in Mönchengladbach on Wednesday.
From this win by the Americans, some important footballing lessons were handed out.
The first lesson was handed out to a classless Brazilian side.
From the beginning of the match, Brazil were a side that were going to show off that they were going to not be samba queens. Instead the Brazilians championed diving that Greg Louganis would teach to a protege, crying over calls that would be insulting to a baby and displaying a complete disregard to the game of soccer itself.
The first specific case of this goes to Marta. Even though she has won five FIFA Women's Player of the Year awards, Marta put together a collection of theatrics that would be good enough for Hollywood.
Starting in the 45th minute after a foul on Wambach by Aline, Marta went after referee Jacqui Melksham and her complaining led to a booking.
Despite getting booked, Marta did not let up on her classless act. In the 65th minute, Marta's theatrics played out front and center on a one-on-one inside the penalty box with Rachel Buehler. Even though replays proved inconclusive, Marta's immediate pleas for a penalty led to Buehler getting sent off and the Brazilians to tie the match.
Following the goal, Marta achieved a truly rare feat. For the rest of the match, the world's best female player was heckled by the predominately neutral fans inside the sold-out Rudolf-Harbig-Stadion.
Even when Marta scored her second goal of the match in what has to be one of the top goals of the tournament, the fans did not cheer her like they would have if she had not put such a negative spin in the match with her acting.
In the second half of extra time, Brazil continued to show off like they were in a Broadway play.
Despite the theatrics of Marta, Erika put together one of the worst cases of footballing theatrics in recent memory.
After helping to defend away a free kick, Erika moved away from everyone else and suddenly fell to the ground like she was struck by something. After spending several minutes on the ground, she was taken off on a stretcher.
Before the stretcher could leave the pitch, she sprung out of stretcher and returned like nothing ever happened to her, causing hecklers to rain down jeers on the defender.
However, Brazil's anti-football philosophy at the end of the match turned out to ultimately destroy the team with Wambach's late goal.
Ultimately, the Samba Queens did not live up to the five stars that were on their kit and will remain without a Women's World Cup title for at least four more years.
The second lesson that was dished out by the Americans came in the form of not letting Australian referee Jacqui Melksham end their World Cup.
To say the least, Melksham made three extremely controversial decisions in the 65th through 68th minutes and she became the star of the match.
This did not stop for the remainder of the match, and her inability to call Brazil offside on the lead up to the second goal nearly led to the United States getting eliminated altogether from the tournament.
At the closing minutes of extra time, Melksham was visible with a call every minute, and she should have never allowed the Brazilians to continue on with their show.
But thanks to this US win, the horrendous performance by Melksham has been overshadowed and she will not be a reason for the American win.
Finally, the next group of people that can learn something from this match come in the form of the future stars of the USWNT.
Just like they did in 1999 with their World Cup title (which ironically happened 12 years ago yesterday), the women's side of the national team will help to galvanize a whole new generation of girls who will want to become the next Hope Solo or Abby Wambach.
Even though soccer for young girls in the United States is bigger than nearly every country in the world, this win will undoubtably be a boost for the future of American soccer.
After the 1999 World Cup, participation in youth soccer with girls quadrupled in the first year, and a win in this World Cup will help to once again cause an increase in young girls playing soccer.
Hopefully now the United States will use this win and use it as inspiration against France on Wednesday. If the Americans win, they will be in their third World Cup final on July 17 and can look to finally bring home that long-awaited third FIFA Women's World Cup trophy.
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