I'll admit it, I am a big soccer fan. I began playing soccer as a wee lad back in the 70's when the sport was a virtual unknown in the United States. I had role models like Pele from Brazil and Kyle Rote Jr, in America. I continued playing until the knees just wouldn't take the punishment anymore somewhere in my mid 40's.
I have played in Germany, while stationed there, for both American and German teams. I have played against teams from other countries, not at the top level, mind you, but still in situations where I was representing the United States. It is hard to explain to somebody what it means to play a game where when you hear the national anthem being played you are fully aware of just what it means to have that flag on your sleeve.
That is why I was very pleased by the comments I heard from the players and coaches in the wake of the U.S. victory over Brazil this weekend in what is arguably the best game ever played. The United States team had to overcome questionable calls, play a woman short for almost half the game and into overtime and finally decided by penalty kicks. At the end it was sheer willpower to force your leg to make one more kick on target. Legs that had probably long ago given up protesting in pain and were now resigned to simply carry your body because your mind willed it.
The game itself lasts 90 minutes and the overtime period is 30 minutes with additional time added for stoppages. There are no timeouts in soccer. No break between plays to huddle up or sit in a dug out. There is nothing but the relentless moving, sometimes at a sprint, sometimes at a jog, but always moving.
First comments from the woman's coach who once was a member of the Swedish team, which coincidentally has beaten this U.S. squad twice this year, once in the first round of this World Cup.
And then from a player, Abby Wambach, who while not having the best of years is still managing to be there when it counts.
Next up for the U.S. women is France on Wednesday and as great as this win is, it is over and now it is time to move on to the next game for in soccer the only relevant question is what have you done lately?
Soccer fan or not, you have got to admire these athletes and would hope all Americans can get behind them.
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