Via Beau, USA Today asks, "What are your memories of the 1999 Women's World Cup?"
And I say:
It was too damned hot, China attacked more, Sun Wen was the best player on the field, and we had to go to penalties in order to win the tournament at home. We probably should have lost. I wish I had sold my ticket and watched at home.
I'm not the only one who agrees, even if no one but me has the balls to say it out loud. You catch the highlight tribute video WPS showed in honor of the occasion? Four highlights - Mia's PK shot (because it was Mia), Briana's final save, Chastain's PK win, China hitting the bar. Only one of those was in regulation. Because that was the only interesting moment in two hours of soccer. We learned nothing from the 1994 Final, which sucked for exactly the same reason - San Gabriel Valley, July, daytime.
In fairness, I'm only talking about the Final. In equal fairness, see if anyone else will actually talk about the game.
Meanwhile, in WPS - the Sol and the Freedom nearly played an exciting 0-0 draw, except Marta spoiled everything by making a picture-perfect, career highlight reel shot to win the game for LA. Marta's just too damn good. You have seven teams that are more or less equal, except WPS had to allocate King Kong to somebody. That one player makes the league as unbalanced as Lyndon LaRouche.
Last week, the league announced there will be a WPS All-Star Game at the end of the season against Umea. I wonder which six non-Sol players will be picked for the game.
Need some more statistical proof of Sol ridiculousization? Aly Wagner is currently tied for third in the league in assists. She's tied with Weimer of FCGP...and Marta, who you'd think would have been too busy scoring goals. Bompastor of Washington is in second - and leading the league is Miyama of Los Angeles. Oh...and Wagner, because of one injury and another, has missed five games this year.
As far as goalscoring, the top two scorers in WPS have as many as the next four put together. They both play for Los Angeles. LeBlanc won't be caught in the shutout race until next year.
If for some reason Umea can't make it, maybe they can schedule the US National Team. See, because, there's almost no crossover between the USWNT and WPS all-stars. Maybe Shannon Boxx.
So the Sol are a lock to win the title, right? Probably, but maybe not. I'm not saying Marta always gets shut down in finals...I'm just saying it's happened twice in the last two years.
They've also come out in recent games looking very complacent. They played a good portion of their game against Washington as if they've been spending practice sessions admiring how far ahead they are in the standings.
And then there's the Home Depot Center hosting the final. Because, well, the X-Games tends to do the HDC turf what the US Navy did to the Japanese during the Battle of the Coral Sea. Hopefully this year we'll make sure soccer games aren't ruined by Mountain Dew-swilling potheads doing "ollies" and "faceplants" (my attitude towards the X-Games is literally "Hey, you kids! Get off the lawn!"). The Sol are likely to be much better than their opponent, but if the field looks like the golf course at the end of "Caddyshack," all bets are off.
Of course, Saint Louis or Boston can go on a seven game winning streak and host the final...yeah, probably not. I did call up the Sol - they're saying August 22, 1 pm. Chivas USA plays later that night, so I'm cheering for the Sol, and deep divots in the turf.
Oh, by the way - this is what the Independence logo looks like. I actually like it. Two-tone badge backgrounds with very similar colors have been Arsenaled and Galaxyed to death, but other than that, it looks distinguished. I look forward to the giant bell mascot.