Dear Fellow US Women’s National Soccer Team Fans: As hard as I tried, I was not able to change the shape of the globe and alter time zones. My apologies. So instead, I will be watching the USWNT vs Japan at 3:30 am Pacific Standard Time from the comfort of my living room this Sunday. Some friends will join me as we watch the USA and cheer relentlessly until I am certain I will be thrown out of my apartment. Let me give any non soccer fans a little background on what this game means…
Japan has become what we call in the business, a giant pain in our ass. The technical term is “chronic ass-pain implementing distributors.” Since they beat us in the final at the World Cup this past summer (I still cringe just typing that) we have had one crack at them in the Algarve Cup this past month. We were defeated in that match, furthering their pain in the ass status. This next game just so happens to be being played in Japan. It’s also on April 1st, April Fool’s Day. The outcome I’m hoping for is a huge win, where we silence every Japanese fan in that stadium. The outcome I’m worried about is some of those kooky Japanese game show hosts coming out for April Fool’s Day and creating an obstacle course on the field as part of their show. So I’ll be on the lookout for any old Japanese men in suits that belong on American used car salesmen from the 70’s holding a microphone and little Japanese girls wearing Hello Kitty helmets ready to win a karaoke machine.
The Japanese team has made some amazing strides in women’s soccer in the past couple of years. Homare Sawa, who won the Player Of The Year award for 2011 is one of my personal top international picks. I really do think that the progress we see from them is great news for women’s soccer across the globe. With that being said; I still hate them. I’m not going to tip toe around this. I want so badly to like this team of possession oriented, skilled players who have come very far but I can’t. I have respect for them and I love seeing the positive progress in another country of the sport but every time I see them I just feel violent. And I’m not a violent person. The only time I ever threw a punch it was in self defense and it was done with my eyes closed and was immediately followed by me running away screaming like a 4 year old waving my hands over my head trying to protect my face. So for them to make me feel violent says something. It says I do not want to see another loss to them. I do not want to see a tie with them. I want to see a good old fashioned USA smack down laid out on them.
In my humble outsider opinion, this is how we do that:
PLAY OUR GAME.
Simple, right? Don’t let them dictate. When we play our game, there is no stopping us. When we use our strengths, instead of caving early to letting them control the pace we cannot be stopped. I don’t care how good they’ve gotten; if Heather O’Reilly takes on a defender 1 v 1 (burns them obviously) then takes the ball end line and serves a tasty dish into the head of Abby Wambach who will then bury that ball so far into that net the keeper can’t find it to fish it out – they cannot stop us. If Lauren Cheney picks off a ball in the mid field and finds Alex Morgan on a diagonal through ball so perfectly placed you assume there is a magical path linked between their feet and Morgan takes out each defender and keeper with speed, agility & a killer finish – they cannot stop us. If Hope Solo stands there and stares down each player until they are too insanely terrified to attack goal – they cannot stop us. My point being, we need to play to our many, many strengths and not allow them to get under our skin. Whether it be Abby’s head, Morgan’s finishing, HAO’s speed, Lloyd’s vision, Cheney’s connecting plays or any one of the other dozens of strengths we have; we need to utilize them. When we dictate early and make that statement we’re an unbeatable force. But when we sit on our heels for too long and let them begin to control the pace is where we lose. And I have immense faith that this team will come out on April 1st ready to control that game. There are a ton of things I could go on and on about that I would like to see happen but I feel controling the pace early is the biggest key. Hold the ball, make smart decisions, play to our strengths so we control the game and don’t let those fricken mini possession monsters get the ball for too long. They’re like bed bugs. Once they take control of your hotel room, there is no getting rid of them. Just like once Japan gets the ball for too long, there is no gaining control back of the game. I have a feeling Pia is packing some heat for this annoying infestation though. Just call her the exterminator. (cue intense movie music)
This week requires pulling out all the stops in fan preparation. When I was a kid, my best friend and I used to run around my yard screaming in British accents, “The Chinese are coming!” And then we’d attack them with chop sticks. (Yes, we beat imaginary Chinese people with their own eating utensils. Don’t judge me.) Why am I telling you this embarrassingly odd child hood tale? Because, the accent will be coming out in full force and “Chinese” will be subbed out for “Japanese” as I warn my fellow man of their upcoming attack plans. This is war. No longer will they be chronic ass-pain implementing distributors to us. April 1st we’re coming for you, Japan. In true American fashion we’re going to come strong, proud and ready. And none the less; on a day where we honor crafty tomfoolery. So Japan, get ready to be tomfoolerdied… tomfoolersted… tomfoolerized. Yes, tomfoolerized.
USWNT fans near and far: Get ready to cheer your hearts out and support our girls because (Please read the following in a British accent) The Japanese are coming!! (Decease British accent)
Who else will be gearing up this week and pulling the all nighter / early morning wake up to watch this epic match? What do you think we need to do to win? Tell me about it here and on twitter!