There’s no doubt the entire nation and perhaps the world was wrapped up in the United States emotional 2-1 victory over Brazil in yesterday’s 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup quarterfinal match. The epic finish, the drama throughout the contest, the loss of a player for the U.S. and the final penalty kicks all made for a truly unforgettable match for the ages. Yet for two women in particular, the smell of success must truly be sweeter.
For American goalie Hope Solo, it was a chance to turn around her fortunes from the last Women’s World Cup from 2007 where she was benched for her lack of experience despite her success to that point in the semi-final. Even in this contest, she was penalized on a penalty kick for a minor move along the line that’s rarely, if ever, called on a game of this caliber, yet the penalty kick was awarded again and Brazil’s Marta used that to tie the game.
Yet it’s here at the end of the game that Solo’s stop of one of Brazil’s penalty kicks in the extra frame — from Brazil’s Daiane — brings the United States the victory in the end and pushes them miraculously past referee issues and Marta’s goals to head once again to the semi-final. This time, you better believe she’ll remain in goal.
As for Abby Wambach, most analysts continue to insist that each game might be her last on such a stage. At the age of 31, she’s the senior member of the American team and every commentator and sportswriter is discussing just how much she willed her team to win today. She doesn’t look like she’s lost a thing at all, however, and there’s no reason why a 35-year-old couldn’t stay in good enough shape to play in the 2015 Women’s World Cup. After all, Wambach’s fearless header with one minute left in the entire game is what has the United States still standing in the first place.
With this level of momentum, it’s going to be difficult for any of the remaining teams to stop the United States from reaching the ultimate goal of winning in Germany. And there’s no doubt that Wambach and Solo will be the center of that success as they move forward.