For those of you unaware, US Soccer Star Heather O’Reilly, or HAO, got married today. So I decided to write a little tribute to one of my all time favorite players, and my current overall favorite. Recently I have been doing medical research on some of the US Women’s National Team soccer players. Pieces such as Hope Solo-itis, Carli Lloyd-aphobia, and Krieger Fever have been purely medical, but with HAO I would like to take more of an educational and academic look.
Let’s dissect all of the stupendous aspects of HAO and find out how it is possible for her to be as ‘boss’ as she is. And, yes, ‘boss’ is the correct technical term required here. Let’s start with her speed. I will give her speed an A+. Seeing as how in the few seconds it took for me to say “I will give her speed an A+”, she could have collected the ball, sped past a defender and put the ball in the back of the net…yea, she gets an A+. Aside from YouTube videos of puppies falling asleep, watching HAO speed past defenders is my all time favorite thing to see in life. If you have never witnessed this with your own eyeballs, I feel sorry for you. I suggest you try and catch one of these moments. It will awaken you to a whole new world. (I would appreciate it if everyone sang the last part of that sentence like the song from Aladdin) When a defender tries taking her on 1 versus 1 it’s like watching Paris Hilton take on a novel…it’s just not fair. The defender is going to crash and burn in the wake of HAO’s speed just as badly as Paris Hilton is going to crash and burn in the wake of there being no pictures in the book. Many have attempted to take her down and many have failed. As the defender approaches, HAO pushes the ball past them and then turns it into a higher gear that has not even been named yet it’s so fast. Trust me, unless there is a puppy falling asleep somewhere within sight, you will not be able to take your eyes off of her.
Next, I want to look at her overall likeability in certain aspects of her game, which also gets an A+ from me. She not only brings speed, skill, a killer strike on the ball and brilliant knowledge of the game, but she also brings the ‘illest’ game face. And, yes, ‘illest’ is the correct technical term required here as well. When she is about to brush past a defender you see the HAO Game Face come out. If you are on the opposing team and you see this face come over her: just go home. The face = your demise. Her jaw drops, her eyes become lasers darting through your soul, and her face tenses up alerting you that it’s HAO time. Roughly 3.6 seconds after seeing this face you will also see another goal on the scoreboard for the USA. Whether it was scored or assisted by HAO, it’s just a fact that the score will inevitably change in the favor of her team. Her assists can be just as amazing as her goals as well. She has some of the best vision and service on the field. Once HAO gets to the end line there are 4 options. She will gain a corner, gain a free kick, cross a beautiful ball into the box, or burn past the defender herself and take it to goal. One of those 4 options will happen every time. She makes things happen when she is on the ball, plain and simple. She is equally as dangerous from outside the box with the ball as well. When she gets the HAO Game Face and she has the ball at her feet around 25 yards out, she means business. She has what I like to call a cringe-worthy shot. She and Lauren Cheney hold the crown for this title. It’s when they shoot the ball from 25-30 yards out and when you see it you literally cringe because it is so fierce. The flight of the ball makes you sick it was struck so beautifully. Her goal against Columbia in the World Cup this year had me cringing in fetal position unable to move for approximately 7 minutes. I thought I was actually going to need to seek medical attention.
If I had to grade the team over all on “fist pump-ability” it would be a tough one because they all have superior fist pump capabilities compared to the rest of the world and all deserve A+’s. Individually, Alex Morgan I would say holds the 1st place spot for single handed fist pump. When she charges that one fist into the air it gives you chills and you know you just witnessed greatness. But HAO, I believe holds the 1st place spot for the double handed fist pump. Whether she is stoking up the team shouting “Come on!” and gives the “underhanded aggressive double fist pump”, or she has just scored an unthinkable goal and gives the “Rocky-style both arms raised in triumph double fist pump”; it’s all gold. When you see HAO give one of her famous fist pumps something comes over you. You will look down at your own hands and notice they are beginning to clench into fists and without even acknowledging that your brain has told you to do so you begin wildly fist pumping as well. It’s magical and that’s all I can say about that.
Overall I can’t give her an A+ though. It simply is not high enough. Just as we need to create a name for the high gear that she kicks it into in a game we also need to create a grade high enough to do Heather O’Reilly justice. HAO is one of my favorite all time players we have ever been lucky enough to have play for us. I highly praise many of these athletes but there has always been something about HAO that impresses me to no end and I have always considered her to be the best of the best. I cannot say enough good things about her and I also cannot say I did not seriously debate flying to North Carolina to crash her wedding today.
Heather, I wish nothing but the best for you and your husband and thank you for being abnormally amazing at what you do. Enjoy your day today and I will do a double handed fist pump in my North Carolina Women’s Soccer long sleeved T-shirt I’m wearing right now in your honor. Keep up the cringe-worthiness and I can’t wait for you to help bring home a gold medal from London next summer!
Now, time to go look at sleeping puppy videos.