A Beautiful Game of The Beautiful Game – USWNT

If I had the option of reliving November 19th 2011 from the hours of 7pm to 10pm Mountain Standard Time once a day for the next 5 years of my life in exchange for my soul I would gladly make the trade. This weekend I was one of the lucky 18,482 fans at the US Women’s National Soccer Team game against Sweden in an International Friendly match in Phoenix, AZ. Let me tell you, it was truly a beautiful game of the beautiful game.

This was a match I have known about for a couple of months and was unsure if I would be able to attend or not. But thanks to some amazing followers on Twitter offering different pieces of the puzzle to help get me there; I made it. I drove my little munchkin two seat convertible from Los Angeles to Phoenix on the day of the game. It was a lovely drive with the majority of it being on empty freeway with no civilization in site. This is a good thing for me because I love nothing more than putting my top down on a road trip, blasting the stereo and singing at the top of my tone challenged lungs. By the time I was in Phoenix my voice was already a little scratchy from a superb medley ranging from Janis Joplin to Journey to Katy Perry to every classic show tune you can imagine. I got pretty animated during “You Can’t Stop The Beat” dancing in my seat. Then of course put on my Adele playlist and had a good solid 30 minutes of sing-crying at an obscenely loud volume.

After getting to the stadium I met up with some fellow Twitter fans and grabbed a drink. I needed to settle my giddy-nerves from flaring up which would end up making me look like the insanely excited 6 year old child I am inside. It really is a gorgeous stadium with one of the most perfect fields I have ever seen. I had a field seat ticket so I headed down to the field and just stared at the pitch for a little while in a happy soccer coma. The giddy 6 year old was on the verge of coming out and doing a happy dance, but I maintained my coolness and instead grabbed the beer guy’s attention.

When the game started and that whistle blew, everything was perfect. The world could do no wrong at that moment. At least I thought, but then I let the 6 year old out and screeched and jumped in glee, knocking my beer over. My excitement was even more amplified by the two people next to me, a father and daughter, who appeared to be dead inside and I decided I hated them. But later in the game a group of 14 year old girls who knew nothing and said everything moved in next door and I decided the dead inside father daughter duo weren’t so bad. Within minutes the ball was right in front of me, at Amy Rodriquez’s feet. Watching her with the ball at her feet from only about 6 feet away is one of the most amazing things I have ever seen. She is just this brutally strong, compact, speedy little soccer machine. Every time the ball came that close to me it was incredible just seeing these players right there, doing what they were born to do and doing it so….damn….good. Sweden took advantage of a ball around the 18 and scored in the 28th minute though. We had been dominating and controlling the pace, but hey, that’s soccer. The entire game had this enormous building feeling to it. It was an inevitable fact that we would score. Then in the 81st minute Alex Morgan put a rocket on goal which was saved and Tobin Heath was more than happy to collect the rebound and stuff the ball into the back of the net, getting us tied at 1. After that it built even more and I really thought we had the winner coming, but around the 92nd minute the whistle blew and we would settle for a tie. But let me tell you, it was not reflective of how we played…we looked GOOD.

Lauren Cheney was on point with her corner kicks, her short range passing, her long switches across field and moving off the ball. She had a game of perfect precision and skillful sorting of the ball. She was in full 007 Spy Mode darting around the field disappearing and reappearing everywhere we needed her. The 6 year old in me had a strong urge to start doing diving spy move somersaults in excitement, but I managed to refrain. Carli Lloyd was having an excellent game also of connecting plays, crafty touches creating opportunity and contributing every second towards making our team better. So overall our central midfield was looking brilliant but let’s be honest about the central midfield on Saturday, I will just say- Shannon Boxx, Shannon Boxx, Shannon Boxx. This woman is unreal. There is no vocabulary yet created for describing the amount of respect and admiration I have for this legend. Our other iron woman, Christie Rampone had an impeccable game as always as well. I think Abby Wambach said it best on Twitter saying Rampone is the “strongest human alive”. No argument there, no further comment needed, as that says it all. My favorite, Heather O’Reilly had her usual game of making blazing runs, helping on defense, creating offense, burning past defenders and throughout the game ran roughly 47 miles. And I didn’t have speed gun with me but I believe she peaked on one of her runs around 124mph. This is just a rough guess, but I think it’s accurate and in no way an exaggeration. Becky Sauerbrunn was in fine form which let’s be honest…she always is. Every time she did a throw in near me I shook in fear over her guns. This girl is ripped. She is a beautiful woman who I think looks like Heather Graham, but only if Heather Graham was an athlete that could tear you apart with one toned arm tied behind her back. She was out wide on Saturday dominating that left back position and also getting into the attack beautifully. I will say I love her out wide as well, but when she plays in the middle with Rampone you might as well just put a 100 foot high brick wall in the middle of the field. A brick wall with ripped guns and a 6 pack, that is.Tobin Heath, our goal scorer was looking good too. Every time she got the ball a new dance routine began for her as she craftily danced and juked over the ball toying with the defense. I think right before serving a cross one time I actually saw her start to do ‘The Dougie’. And last but definitely not least I have to say that Alex Morgan is looking fresh. Her first touch, her runs off the ball, her back to goal work and her rocket shot were all looking phenomenal. She had a few different balls come in over her head that she collected with one fluid movement of her leg bringing the ball in like she has a magnetic power over it. I’m convinced she’s some kind of soccer specialty magician or immortal soccer nymph. She’s unreal. She put in some hard work (with very limited minutes, I would say too limited) and was hungry for a goal and was very unlucky to not walk away with at least one. A good save, some lucky blocks on the way in and a far post that was almost snapped in half by her bullet of a shot in the 78th minute prevented her from scoring though. Goal scored or not; Alex Morgan is on the prowl and is looking incredible.

Speaking of that poor goal post that was rocked by Morgan’s shot; I have a beef with the frame of the goal after Saturday. We hit both posts and the cross bar. Boxx’s crossbar shot looked like the dented it, it was hit so hard. It’s probably in need of cosmetic surgery it was rocked so forcefully by Boxx. And then Abby hit the other post on a ball that defied the laws of physics by not going in the goal. Just get out of the way!! Trust me goal frame, you don’t want all that pain. Just get out of the way and let these goals in! Regardless, the whole team showed everyone in that stadium once again why they are the number one ranked team in the world. Every one of them played beautifully this weekend and we are looking confident and ready for Olympic qualifiers. Seriously, like I have said before: any teams who have to face us in London 2012, I feel sorry for how badly you will be owned by Abby Wambach’s storm of fury and the whole USWNT.

So thank you Fox Soccer and ESPN for being so supportive and airing the game on televis…oh wait. Never mind. I forgot…neither of you aired it. Someone must have forgotten to give you the memo that the number one ranked women’s soccer team in the world (which just so happens to be the USA, you know…the country we live in) was playing a game in front of what was predicted to be a record breaking crowd against a rival team who beat us in the World Cup this summer promising for a high energy and highly entertaining game with guarenteed viewers eager to watch from home. Yeah, you must have lost the memo. Well, let’s thank some people who actually deserve a thank you…

Thank you ussoccer.com who actually did pull off a webcast of the game for fans across the country. Thank you Adele for a cleansing sing a long / hysterical crying session. Thank you Twitter followers who helped get me (and my giddy inner 6 year old) to the game and made it a very enjoyable experience. Thank you ridiculous road signs you only find in the middle of nowhere which made me giggle and also made me slightly nervous I was entering a horror movie plot line. (ex: State Prison Next Exit. Do Not Pick Up Hitch Hikers) Thank you highway patrol for making this my first ever road trip with no speeding tickets. But mostly, thank you to the US Women’s National Team, as always, for coming out and playing like true champions.

 

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Amy Maestri

Writer / actress / producer.

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