Remember women's soccer? Sure you do! Well, they're going to play in some tournament soon...one only slightly less embarrassing than one organized by Sun Myung Moon. (Click here if you wanna be offended!)
Pia Sundhage cut the last links to the Golden Generation today, correctly sending Briana Scurry to the alternates list. With Kristine Lilly's pregnancy, that only leaves co-captains Christie Rampone and Kate Markgraf around from the 1999 team that people paid attention to. Hopefully we can now look back on Scurry's overall fantastic career, and not dwell on how noticeably not good she was in the past twelve months or so. Scurry would be a certain Hall of Famer if the Hall of Fame decided to allow women back in.
Also missing besides Lilly are Leslie Osborne and Cat Whitehill due to injury, and Tina Ellertson through not timing her pregnancy quite well enough. Heather Mitts is back, though. Amy Rodriguez, Rachel Buehler and Tobin Heath are the new faces.
So how good is this team? Well, Boxx and Mitts are healthy, and one hopes Abby Wambach won't break another toe...or pull a back muscle carrying this team. Hope Solo would have a lot to prove even it wasn't for last year's froo-fraw. But the weight of leadership falls on Rampone and Markgraf, who have been seemingly chosen by the Lord Herself to avoid drama and controversy, both by action and example. Although this was a cute story from February:
Neither Rampone nor Markgraf have official websites, or even MySpace sites, that I know of. This may prove crucial.
I never bought into the idea that Brazil (or Germany) were so much better than the United States that 4-0 and an embarrassing third place finish was a just result. I think fans are perfectly justified in demanding a successful defense of the gold medal, and certainly justified in a better performance than last year. The 2003 World Cup team finished third, but they didn't look completely worthless while doing so, and I think that's a crucial distinction.
Besides, they have a Division I league starting up soon, and I think two China pratfalls in two years makes for a poor rollout.