Not long ago -- well, very long ago if you're only tracking in 15-minute news cycles -- much of our country halted on a Sunday afternoon. They tuned into a television, tracked on a smart phone and wanted to know what happened when an appealing team of soccer players wearing our nation's uniform took the field against an emotionally charged team from Japan. It was the Women's World Cup. It was cool. It was entertaining. It was invigorating.
Everyone remembers the iconic image of Brandi Chastain on her knees after the U.S. women's soccer team won the 1999 World Cup Championship. Hope Solo was only 17 then, inspired by the American women on the field.
Girls often come in predictable groupings -- in literature, pop culture and even in real life. There's the "pretty" one, the "outgoing" one, the "smart" one, the "motherly" one. And then there's the other one, the quiet girl who rounds out the social circle.
The Ladies Professional Golf Association is like the NAACP -- both are a bit retro in their language. Nobody says "colored people" anymore, and, at least in sports, "ladies" is passe. Apart from golf, the females playing professionally today are not L's, but W's -- women: the WTA, the WNBA, and so forth. After the old joke: that is no lady, that's my athlete.
Shortly before she left Brookline, Mass., for the 2004 Olympics, Kristine Lilly was walking her golden retriever, Scribner, when the dog suddenly fixated on a guy in front of a fire station. Or maybe it was the garbage the guy was lugging to the curb that caught Scribner's nose. Whatever. Bottom line, the dog dragged Lilly toward firefighter David Heavey. They struck up a conversation, during which Heavey was surprised to learn that Lilly was a fixture on the U.S. soccer team. "I had no idea who she was," he says.
After beating Brazil 2-0 in a one-sided "friendly" (Brazil had five yellow cards) last month, the U.S. women's soccer team moved to 35-0-7 under head coach Greg Ryan, whose tenure began following the retirement of U.S. legends Mia Hamm, Julie Foudy and Brandi Chastain.