Abby Wambach – The Storm of the Century

As a soccer player how would you like the comfort of knowing your teammate is someone who has incredible knowledge of the game, leadership abilities the President wishes he possessed, a beautiful strike on the ball, a never die attitude and a header with more pace on it than most people can get off of their feet? Well, congratulations to anyone who has ever played with Abby Wambach because you have had that person as a teammate. She is called one of the best in the world for great reason. I don’t care if you are a soccer fanatic or if you are confused as to why no one is using their hands; when you watch Abby play you feel excitement, energy, passion, and amazement.

I have been raving about a handful of other players on the U.S. Women’s National Team all for different reasons in past blogs. I am going to be honest; Abby is not my favorite player. Don’t get me wrong I absolutely love her and she is definitely top 5 for me. But it comes down to personal preference for what you look for in your favorite players and for me, that person is almost always a midfielder. But what I will say is that Abby Wambach is, I believe, the best in the world. She is a force that no one (no matter what position they play) in the world can match as far as I am concerned. If there was a storm that combined winds from a tornado, flooding from a tsunami, ground shaking from an earthquake, and white out snow storms from a blizzard you would have an Abby Wambach caliber storm.  I would advise all meteorologists to beware next summer and get ready for some intense reporting. Because the Abby Wambach Storm Of The Century will be in full force in London for the 2012 Olympics. When that storm comes through town I would not want to be anywhere near it. So for all of the teams unlucky enough to have to play them next summer: I will pray for your safe return to your homes after Wambach’s fury and the USWNT send you packing.

There is something about Abby’s leadership skills that just leaves me speechless. Well, almost speechless. Who am I kidding? I don’t get speechless. Even from thousands of miles away, watching her on your TV screen, not being able to hear what she is saying; she still manages to energize you and give you belief that she is about to make magic happen. There is no better example than in the quarter final of the World Cup this year when the USA played Brazil. Every one of our girls played with 300% heart, aggression, determination and skill. I would say Wambach was somewhere in the 7000% range though. At one point when they showed her close up I literally thought my TV was going to explode from the pressure and intense determination on her face. Not going to lie…Abby Wambach’s ‘game face’ on my 42 inch HDTV terrified me. HD should not be allowed when Wambach is on the hunt for a win. After a game that filled fans with every emotion ranging from excitement to frustration to anger to anxiousness, she left us with every emotion ranging from euphoria to pride to extreme satisfaction to relief. For every other goal that was scored during this World Cup by the USA my typical celebration was a lap around my apartment screaming, jumping up and down, and throwing anything within reaching distance exerting pure joy. (This resulted in some unhappy neighbors and a dire need for some new pint glasses) But after Abby’s goal she scored in the 122nd minute of that game there was no screaming, no running, no broken glass. I just dropped down to my knees, let out a breath I had been holding in for 122 minutes and put my arms up in the air like I was about to yell out “Stellaaaaaaa!” This happened for a second time when Ali Krieger put away the final PK winning the match for us. I am an honest writer so I cannot deny there were some tears shed. Not to get all Lifetime Movie Network on you, but I definitely had a special moment. While we all sat on the edge of our seats throughout this game Abby had a gut feeling, a drive within her pushing her, knowing that they were going to overcome and win. Her leadership throughout her career has gotten her and her teams to where they are now and her leadership in that game got us through to the next round…and it also made all of America go absolutely fricken insane.

Aside from her leadership everyone knows her for her epic headers that personally give me a head / neck ache just watching them. I for one believe Abby needs to get separate insurance for her head, her forehead, and each individual strand of hair on her head. If anything were to happen to any of these crucial resources America would be devastated. If I see Abby I will most likely awkwardly shove a helmet on her head encouraging her to never ever take it off unless she is playing a game. That head is an American asset and we need to protect it. It should never be touched by mere mortals. We cannot let the magical powers embodied by Abby’s head escape. Side note: Abby, if you are reading I am more than willing to become your head’s body guard. Or rather, head guard. I vow I will never allow you to bump it on a low ceiling. I vow I will never allow it to be touched by someone in a large crowd. I vow that no bird will ever release itself while flying over your head putting it in direct danger of bird droppings. Your head would be safe in my hands. The only compensation I would ask for is that you promise you will win the gold in the 2012 Olympics and when you score your goals you do a dance choreographed by yours truly. It will be a mix of 90’s pop, Broadway pizzazz, and 80’s break dancing, in case you were wondering. If you don’t agree to the dance, then I will settle for the big shiny bright gold medal around your neck next summer while you and your team listen to our National Anthem atop the podium. (And then maybe you could toss a ‘running man’ with some jazz hands in there for me)

She is just as lethal with the ball at her feet which makes her unstoppable. When she is not scoring she is most likely running around causing havoc for the defense and creating scoring opportunities for her teammates. If Alex Morgan is open it’s because she is capable of running at speeds over 100 mph – but also because Abby is creating space for her and drawing in defenses to herself. Abby is a master at opening up her teammates.  When she’s not doing one of those two things she is drawing fouls and throwing her body on the line for the good of the team. She is not afraid to take a hit and draw a foul to, once again, create a scoring opportunity. When she is not doing one of those three things, she is sleeping. I’d still be willing to bet you she is somehow creating goals even when she is sleeping though. Like she has some sort of powerful dreams that create goals the following day on the pitch. She’s a lady soccer wizard! I’m on to you Wambach…I’m on to you.

Abby is an athletic, empowering, intelligent, brilliantly skilled player. She is the best in the world for many more reasons than I can list in this and she has done so much for the growth of the sport in our country. But years from now the day of disparity will inevitably come and she will retire. Hey, everyone worried about the apocalypse in 2012; please…the apocalypse will come the day Abby Wambach retires. I hope she continues as a coach for us in some capacity as she would be phenomenal. And now that we all know about her lady soccer wizardry powers that will definitely come in handy as well. There will never be a day where I do not want to see Abby Wambach contributing to the sport in some way. Yes I basically just said, “Abby, you need to live forever and ever and forever be a part of U.S. women’s soccer.” No pressure…

I need to stop writing now though. I need to get down to business and get back to what really matters. I need to start choreographing Abby’s goal celebration. Get ready to pop it and lock it Abby. Pop…and…lock.

 

Krieger Fever

4 out of 5 soccer fans agree Ali Krieger has the world’s most contagious smile. It has been known to even spread through the television screen. You don’t even have to be in her immediate area, and that is what makes this such an interesting case. I have uncovered the mysteries behind Hope Solo-itis, Carli Lloyd-aphobia, and now I intend to take down Krieger Fever.

Please do not mistake this for Bieber Fever. This is much more intense and it infects everyone, not just 13 year old girls and curious boys. This is far more serious. There are rumors her smile is in fact so bright that various airlines have enlisted her services to aid in guiding planes to land safely in poor visibility. Although this is from an unconfirmed source, I believe it may be true. We first started taking notice of these pearly whites during the 2011 Women’s World Cup this summer. Ms Krieger had a lot to smile about throughout the tournament as she dominated the right defensive position. And I do mean dominated. She was without a doubt one of the most solid players we had playing for the US. It was like trying to get past a giant, cavity free, and gloriously pure white brick wall. Attackers had no answer for beating Krieger’s skill, determination, and blinding white teeth. She was steady, solid, composed, and fierce every single solitary second of this World Cup. She is without a doubt, one of the best defenders this country has ever seen, and still has such a bright future ahead of her. Her composure over the ball is another impressive aspect of her play that draws you in. She could be under enemy fire with a tank coming at her and she would just chill, look at her options, and calmly place the ball somewhere safe. (Then she could just smile into the sunlight and blind the enemy with her teeth; easy solution) We should not only be thanking her dentist and her great genes which gave her this beautiful smile but also be thanking the Soccer Gods for sending us this phenomenal player who can do no wrong on our back line. After especially dazzling plays those blinding teeth come out in a fabulous smile. At that moment, it doesn’t matter what you are doing, where you are, or how depressed you are…it will spread to you and you will smile.

Her composure on the ball, her skill, her ability to get into the attack, her blinding chompers; all were being talked about all summer. But nothing could ready us for the Brazil game. It was an epic game which will go down in history. The feeling of relief and joy and excitement all mixed in with dozens of other emotions is a feeling none of us watching will ever forget. I would go into some of the details of the game and why it was such a relief but my anger management therapist recommended I not speak of how the referees decided to insert themselves into the game so horribly, or how the Brazilian players decided it was necessary to go for an Oscar every time the wind blew too strongly and protest for a foul and…I seem to be getting worked up. Ok…three deep breaths…count to 10…think of Ali Krieger’s smile…ok, I’m back! Let’s focus on what the outcome was; America’s fighting spirit and fierce athletes overcoming all obstacles and winning in the most dramatically fascinating game I have ever seen. After Hope Solo came up with a brilliant save in penalty kicks after that exhilarating overtime, it was up to our remaining players taking a kick to win it for us. It was our last kick; we just needed to put this one away for the win. Who else steps up to the spot, but the one and only Alexandra B Krieger with nothing but determination and focus on her face. There was no distracting this girl. The laser focus, yet calm and confident look on her face is one I will never forget. (Nor will the Brazilian goalkeeper I am sure) She looked calm, cool, collected and ready to send Brazil home. She stepped to the spot, kept her head down, the whistle blew…and then she made all of America lose their freaking minds. Krieger had scored the last penalty kick we needed for the win and we got to see the biggest Krieger smile we had ever been blessed with. Dentists all over the world fell to their knees and wept at the beauty of it. Orthodontists began rioting in the streets from on overload of emotion. Teeth whitening specialists cursed the Gods that no matter how hard they tried they are not capable of making their clients’ teeth that white. The world could not stop smiling. Everyone near and far had caught Krieger Fever.

There are also some negative side effects to keep in mind though. Roughly 4000 cases of pulled cheek muscles have been reported. When someone catches a glance of Ms Krieger’s smile it is sometimes too powerful for them to handle and they smile so hard they cause severe trauma to their cheeks. But some good news is that dentists and orthodontists all over are seeing such a spike in patients they are in need of hiring more and more staff. Those who never cared about their dental hygiene are now obsessed with having a smile like Ms Krieger’s. Who cares about Moves Like Jagger? We want a Smile Like Krieger! The elderly are shining their dentures, the coffee drinkers and smokers are quitting, the hockey players missing teeth are finally getting the dental work they need and the hillbillies are learning what toothpaste is. She has started a nationwide movement for better dental hygiene.

Krieger Fever is a special virus which when experienced in moderation can be spectacular. But if you are not used to watching her then please, start in small doses. We don’t need any more cheek muscle trauma cases being reported. Start slow, and work your way up. Because I can assure you, when you watch her play and see how absolutely brilliant she is on that field and how lucky we are she is playing for our country and she shines those moon beams at you, it can be overwhelming. But just accept it, smile, and know that you have been infected by Krieger Fever.

Ali, you are truly a hero and an idol to so many. You’re talent wows us, your athletic prowess amazes us, your determination inspires us and your beautiful smile makes us giddy little school girls. On behalf of dentists and soccer fans alike, I thank you for all you and your teeth do for us.

Carli Lloyd-aphobia

I recently declared my severe case of Hope Solo-itis. It felt great to be honest and open about it, and truly embrace it. Now that I have done so, I feel it necessary to approach a new subject infecting soccer fans everywhere. It seems there is a nasty case of Carli Lloyd-aphobia spreading. I for one do not suffer from this phobia. I would say I actually have a case of Lloyd-itis, seeing as how she is a boss. The Lloyd-aphobia infecting some of our citizens is what I want answers on why.

Carli Lloyd is what we in the medical field call a “beast”. She’s like an 18 wheeler full of talent, skill, and aggression. When this 18 wheeler charges down the midfield you should just get out of the way, or you will be demolished. Basically what I’m saying is she’s a freak of nature. The US Women’s National Soccer team would not be nearly as successful without her honking her horn in the midfield and plowing over the opposing teams. The amount of work she puts into a game is insane. Even if she doesn’t finish a game with a goal or an assist I can guarantee you she still made a huge impact. Her crafty touches in the midfield, her work rate which is mind blowing, her ability to control and direct traffic all over the field and her movement on and off the ball all contribute to winning matches. She is a special player who is not only a “behind the scenes” type of conductor in the midfield but also a player who can shine and take control of a game putting an amazingly beautiful shot in the back of the net. Her little touches and smart runs off the ball and movement in the center of the field is constantly creating opportunities for us. She is also without a doubt one of the hardest working athletes I’ve ever seen. She covers more ground in one game than most people do in 2 weeks of working out. Heck, just watching her makes me want to take an ice bath after a game.

But it seems there are a few people who have come down with this Lloyd-aphobia I have spoken of. They seem to be scared off by her talent. They can’t embrace what a sickly talented athlete she is. When you are a “beast” you have a lot of heavy expectations placed on you. And although she is a very, very sick freak of nature in her pure skill, she will have an off day from time to time (this is what we, in the medical field, call; being human.  Although we are still debating her human-ness for obvious reasons displayed on the field). When these few and far between off days happen the Lloyd-aphobians begin to attack. Even if she didn’t have a bad day they begin to have “episodes” we’ll call them. It’s when they let the fear take over. They know the power and strength behind this athlete and it sometimes consumes them to a point where they have no other defense than to lash out at her I suppose. These “episodes” can occur anytime, with no rhyme or reason. Carli can play a flawless game, until the last minute where let’s say her hair tie falls out and she has to fix her hair. This is apparently enough of a mistake for the Lloyd-aphobians to attack. It’s intense.

The only conclusion I can come to, is the assumption I made previously- they are deathly afraid of someone with that much talent. It is the only possible answer to such an odd phobia with such odd reactions. I just can’t understand it. Also, might I mention as a reminder, what an absolutely clutch player she is for us when we need something huge. Not only does she come to play every day for every minute and is a consistent force for us, but she also is a massive clutch player for us.  Pop Quiz: Who scored the game winner for us in the 2008 Olympics, giving us the Gold Medal? I’ll give you a hint: IT WAS CARLI LLOYD.  (It is now 9/3/2012 and I need to make an addition to this blog which was written almost exactly one year ago, and here it is:) 2nd Pop Quiz: Who scored BOTH goals for us in the 2012 Olympic final, giving us the Gold Medal?  I’ll give another hint: IT WAS CARLI LLOYD.

In my last piece released on Hope Solo-itis I made a public statement that I embrace my Solo-itis and encourage others to catch it. In this, I am declaring it unpatriotic, unrealistic, and just plain silly to have Lloyd-aphobia. Accept the Lloyd! We need the Lloyd! The Lloyd led us to Olympic Gold and World Cup Silver! The Lloyd has a rocket of a shot that would slice runway models in half if it hit them! The Lloyd has poise on the ball that poets will one day write about and painters will paint her taking a shot on the Sistine Chapel! Ok, I seem to be getting carried away…

Embrace the Lloyd. I want “Lloyd-aphobia” to no longer be in our English language. (I understand it is not currently actually in our English language, but humor me here) I love watching her play and think she is one of the best central midfielders we have ever seen in our history. And also one of the best we will ever see. I cannot imagine a US Women’s National Team without her; that would be the real thing to be afraid of.

In fact- let’s make that the new phrase, the new phobia. “Lack-of-Lloyd-aphobia”

That one….I am scared of and do suffer from.