This isn't a spoiler image. That's the MVP of today's game - the monkey on Brazil's back. You can't tell from the picture, but the Brazilian women's football monkey (Cebus capuchinus canarinhas) weighs over fifty pounds and can leap from player to player in the blink of an eye. While its close cousin, Cebus capuchinus olympicus, has been seen on the men's backs throughout Olympic history, but nowhere else, the monkey on the women's back is also seen in World Cup competition. It has escaped extinction twice in the past twelve months alone, but now seems stronger than ever.
...unless you think it was our fantastic play that won us another gold medal, in which case, fair play to you. Last September, Brazil beat the defending Olympic gold medalists by four before gagging in the final to the world champs. This week, Brazil blew those same world champs off the field - then lost to us. Cruyff's Holland and Puskas' Hungary, meet Marta's Brazil.
Marta is still young, and is exactly as good as everyone says she is - she'll be warring with Chalupny for the next ten years, easy. And it isn't like she's George Weah trying to win something for Liberia, either. Not only is Marta exceptionally skilled, so are all of her teammates. Even with help, Chalupny couldn't cope with Marta, but she did a lot better than poor Heather Mitts, routinely humiliated by Formiga, Cristiane, you name it. The odds are pretty good that this talk of "Can you be one of the all-time greats if you never win a championship" is, to put it mildly, colossally premature.
I didn't think the US would survive a mistake against Brazil this morning at Political Prisoners' Stadium, but they survived easily a half dozen - including the maddening, obligatory gift to the forward thirty yards from goal.
Was it an unjust result? Well...if you had told me that Shannon Boxx and friends would pretty much surrender midfield possession, and the gameplan would be kick 'n wish on counterattacks, then I would have bet my earthly possessions that Brazil would have won by a touchdown. (By the way, you've all been very sweet in not telling me how amazingly wrong I've been about every guess I've made in all competitions since the third round of the Open Cup or so, and I appreciate that.) Rampone and Markgraf are your heroes...I guess. I mean, they made it look very, very hard. If you're US Soccer, then Chalupny, Mitts, Markgraf and Rampone were "spectacular." Maybe I'm just a nervous Norvus, because they scared the crap out of me this morning quite often. Well, technically "spectacular" means "worthy of watching, a spectacle," and I couldn't take my eyes off, so, there you go.
No one to my knowledge has any intention of running with the "Wambach and Lilly were SCRUBS, HOLDING US BACK FROM GREATNESS!" angle. Hope Solo has her vindication, the reputations of Wambach, Lilly and Scurry aren't in question, and no one cares about Greg Ryan anyway. From a comedy perspective, there's a lot more material if Solo had turned into a punching bag and let in six or seven, but I must say, I'm thrilled that Solo answered the bell. We all have our happy ending, and now we can go forward.
...to what, though? Route One has saved the day, Wambach's return isn't going to change that (to say the least), and while from our point of view everything's hunky-dory (another Bowie reference), our enemies abroad will be watching the Norway game and the Japan game to find our many weaknesses. We don't want to have this gold medal come at the cost of complacency and future humiliating defeats.
Hey, I'm not shining the BummerSignal in the air, calling for Captain Bringdown to ruin the day. Today was a triumph. And in celebrating a triumph, there must always be someone standing behind Caesar in the chariot saying "Thou art mortal."