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US Women and the Epic Soccer Failure

Abby-Wambach-Hope-Solo-USWNT-WWC2011-300x275

Abby Wambach and Hope Solo, upset

Despite a tragic loss to Japan in Sunday's World Cup final, one of the biggest choke jobs in the history of sports, the U.S. women's soccer team is receiving almost zero criticism from their fans and the media. In fact, quite the opposite effect is happening, as the team has been praised as heroes upon their return. Yes, they made an impressive, miraculous run to the final, but at this point, shouldn't the whole, "it's OK, they did their best" spiel be reserved for boys and girls? This was a team of highly-skilled women, ranked number one in the world and undefeated against Japan in 23 games. They should have won. They took the lead twice, but didn't make any tactical changes or substitutions. They kept attacking, aggressively, allowing Japan to sneak in their equalizers. They should have won, but they screwed the proverbial pooch.

After extra time, the US women converted only one penalty kick in the shootout, which I would say is impossible if Brazil hadn't done the exact same in a simultaneous match against Paraguay in the Copa America [1]. Penalty kicks are like free throws, and if you miss them under pressure, to claim a championship, you should not be praised. Yet, these choke artists are getting treated like queens. That would never happen in men's sports, and it shouldn't happen just because the underperformers in this scenario have XX chromosomes. That's like saying they played well... for girls, which is straight up sexist.

These are professional women who are very good at what they do, and they should be treated as such. They went in as the overwhelming favorite, out shot their opponents 27-14, and absolutely dominated the first half of the game, but could not convert a shot to save their lives. In the words of Irish soccer commentator Tommy Smyth, the only known person to criticize the team thus far (other than myself), "they couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn with a cannon." [2] I think the team should be getting much more flak, but with all of the heroine's praises I'm seeing, I'm reluctant to deliver that flak in full.

Instead, I will only point out that they deserve their fair share of bad press. I will also point out they must keep their heads up and start working towards the 2012 Olympics in London. Moving on should come easy for the team, however, as the media has been overly sympathetic after their epic failure. It would be much harder to work towards 2012 while being aggressively condemned by your own fans for spoiling their summer. At least they got that going for them.

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