Carli Lloyd is the most important thing in ‘Merican history since Alexi Lalas donated his ponytail to Betsy Ross, who weaved it into the red stripes on the first Old Glory (which explains why ’til this day, if you visit it in the Smithsonian you can still pick up the feint odor of Old Spice and Cutty Sark wafting off of it.) The women’s defense through the entire Cup was the toughest American thing to get through since the Founding Fathers played to a 0-0 draw in the first annual game of Colonial Red Rover against the Revere brothers (no subsequent annual games were played.) And for the last 3 weeks, Hope Solo has Tim Howarded the crap out of the entire rest of the world.
The only thing you needed to know going into the game is that the Japanese team’s nickname is “Nadeshiko,” which doesn’t have a direct translation, but roughly means “the personification of beautiful Japanese women.” In other words, it’s kind of like if we called the U.S. team, “The hottest ‘Mericans we got.” So, nice job being kind of complimentary and misogynist all at once, Japanese guys who came up with that. That’s so FIFA of you. On the other hand, the U.S. women’s nickname before Sunday was, “We want to be like Brandi Chastain.”
Losing in the final of the World Cup is like coming in last in the SEC. It’s nice to be there, and you’re in good company, but you’re still too embarrassed to mention it on Tinder. In 2011, the U.S. women lost in the World Cup Final to Japan. Redemption is a dish best served cold, like bisque, or vodka shots. Sunday night the women took their redemption, and broke records doing it.
In less time than it took the first person to get eaten by a dinosaur in Jurassic World, the U.S. had scored four goals. Three of those also made up the fastest hat trick in a World Cup ever, by Lloyd. In just 16 minutes, she had scored more World Cup Final goals than Lionel Messi, David Beckham, Cristiano Ronaldo, George Washington, and LeBron James combined. It was only the second hat trick ever (men’s or women’s). The first was in 1966 by Englishman Geoff Hurst. Since the English are, like, half Americans, we can unequivocally say that America now has 2 more Final hat tricks than all the other countries combined.
Lloyd wasn’t just unstoppable, either. Her goal in the 60th minute was unmatchable. In the couple hundred World Cup games I’ve watched, I’ve never seen anything like the 60-yard blast that plopped over the retreating Japanese keeper, who had been caught off her line, and whose expression after the goal was exactly the same as mine after I dropped an entire carton of eggs in Publix this one time–mostly shame, with a little “I’m so stupid,” and a lot of “Can someone come fix this for me?” mixed in.
I give credit to Japanese coach Norio Sasaki. Most coaches would’ve been hesitant to pull the trigger on subs. Japan made two, in the 33rd and the 39th minutes. At the half, it was 4-1 good guys after Yuki Ogimi had pulled one back.
The second half was more of the same. Roughly even possession, but most of it for both teams coming in Japan’s defensive third. The U.S. was occasionally peppering the goal, and Japan was occasionally not really doing much of anything.
In the 52nd minute, Julie Johnston decided to make things interesting for the bajillion fans watching on TV (the game set ratings records for Fox, whose coverage all tournament was stellar, including the second handsomest man on sports television–Rob Stone.) Johnston gifted the Japanese an own goal, bringing the score to 4-2. Almost a game.
Tobin Heath responded two minutes later, slotting the ball home through a handful of defenders from six yards, after a pass from Morgan Brian. The total of seven goals made the game the highest scoring women’s final ever (and tied the men’s record too.)
For the next 40 minutes, Japan knocked the ball around between defenders, probing, but not getting into the attacking third often. When they did get forward, they were hesitant to commit extra players into the attack, and the U.S. doesn’t lose even-manned. Without throwing extra bodies forward, the Japanese attackers faced an American defense that wouldn’t crack. Solo finished the whole game only making three saves.
For the last few weeks, the most important sporting event in the world was a women’s tournament. And there’s nothing more ‘Merican than taking something that the world holds dear, like music or prosecuting FIFA executives, and beating them at it. The U.S. women have twice won the world’s biggest sporting trophy, and looked great doing it. Not, in like, a creepy “hottest ‘Merican” kind of way, but in a we-will-destroy-you kind of way. They took it to Japan like they took it to everybody else the whole tournament–with creativity, attacking flair and blatant disregard for opposing defenses. They scored 14 goals over 7 games.
But the story of the tournament for the Yanks was defense. They gave up a grand total of 3 goals, including a staggering 540 consecutive shutout minutes. For you Alabama fans, that’s 9 full hours. Against the best teams in the world. In the most important tournament in the sport.
So, in honor of the “Best ‘Mericans We Have Period” (kinda has a ring to it, d’unnit?) I hereby declare that World Cup soccer is the new Olympics, Carli Lloyd is the new Brandi Chastain, Hope Solo is the new Tim Howard, and “ovarian fortitude” is the new “ballsy.”
And God bless the U.S. of ole.
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