Women's World Cup Final: Who Is to Blame for U.S.' World Cup Heartbreak?

Ned HarwoodContributor IIIJuly 17, 2011

FRANKFURT AM MAIN, GERMANY - JULY 17:  Hope Solo of the USA looks dejected after losing 3-5 after penalty shoot-out the FIFA Women's World Cup Final match between Japan and USA at the FIFA World Cup stadium Frankfurt on July 17, 2011 in Frankfurt am Main, Germany.  (Photo by Christof Koepsel/Getty Images)
Christof Koepsel/Getty Images

Now what? If you are reading this article, the possibility that you have been to hell and back the last 24 hours is high. You may still be feeling a bit woozy from the roller coaster ride that you willingly decided to sit on because you needed a bit of spark to your Sunday afternoon. In honor of your mental health, please take a few moments to digest your experience before reading past this point.

If your still with me, let me analyze what horrible human being caused this whole disaster. Get ready; it might get ugly.

As a sports fan, playing the "Blame Game" is one of the most satisfying feelings of an event. You knowingly state that someone else is the problem in life without any consequences for your ignorance. It is one of those games that the great Plato or Socrates must have thought of back when their favorite Olympian failed to impress. Blaming people for mistakes is a common tactic taken by many fans to justify the reason for a painful event, so it was not surprising to see this ignorant game on display after the USA vs Japan Women's World Cup Final.

And on display it was. After Japan defender Saki Kumagai sunk our hearts and the game winning penalty, immediately there was an outbreak of the "Blame Game" on multiple social networking sites. Millions of Americans were laying blame on their former heroes for mistakes they would have likely made themselves. I saw Ali Krieger’s poor clearing, Pia Sundhage’s defensive tactics and Shannon Boxx’s penalty taking skills all taking a huge hit after the tournament was declared a loss. I admit to even muttering (Under my breath, of course), “Wow. How did Wambach miss that 120th minute cross? I could have made that.”

FRANKFURT AM MAIN, GERMANY - JULY 17:  Abby Wambach of USA looks dejected during the FIFA Women's World Cup Final match between Japan and USA at the FIFA World Cup stadium Frankfurt on July 17, 2011 in Frankfurt am Main, Germany.  (Photo by Friedemann Vog
Friedemann Vogel/Getty Images

No. I couldn’t have.

The truth is, not one of those players in the TV set ruined the experience and your pleasant Sunday afternoon. The person in the mirror did. 

After 20 days of sheer sports magic, we were all anticipating a fantastic finale to complement the feast. After the first goal, we knew we were going to win, and for good reason. Everything had gone our way for so long; we didn’t expect anything else. Even after Japan equalized in regular time, did any of you truly worry that the USWNT’s title hopes were in danger. The first thought that came to my mind was, “Now it is going to feel much better when we win!”

Or much, much worse when we lose. We were so accustomed to the ice cream sundae that when the sorbet reached the table, our starving stomachs hurt just that much more.

Our optimism and ridiculously high expectations are the subjects to blame in this debacle. Not Krieger. Not Sundhage. And definitely not Abby Wambach.

Escaping death yet again by PK’s in the World Cup Final? That truly was too good to be true. 

My advice: Next time, let’s not have our unnecessarily optimistic imaginations plague the experience of a thrilling journey. And with no major tournaments in the near future, you have a while to forget this feeling. Sayonara!