Had this been a film script, it would have been embarrassing. The ‘plucky never-say-die Americans’ has been the tritest of movie tropes for at least half a century. And yet yesterday the U.S. Women’s Soccer team turned it into reality.
They played 55 minutes with only ten players against Brazil’s eleven. At times it seemed as if Brazil had twelve players, counting the Australian referee who made several questionable calls–most of which went against the U.S. The most egregious call rescinded a brilliant penalty-kick save by Hope Solo (and c’mon, a goalkeeper named Hope Solo? Impossible outside of a film script), giving Brazil a second chance at the PK, which they naturally completed. At the end of regulation time the score was tied 1-1, sending the match into mandatory extended time. At the end of the extended time the U.S. was down 2-1, and the match would have been lost.
But in the best movie tradition, a Brazilian player had faked an injury to run out the clock. Had she faked it better, Brazil would have won. But the moment she was carried off the pitch on a stretcher, she leaped to her feet and ran to the sideline to be returned to the game. It was such a blatant ruse that she was given a yellow card and three minutes of stoppage time was added.
Two minutes and twenty seconds into the stoppage time, the U.S. scored the tying goal. And who scored? Only the scrappy team captain who’d been in scoring slump, of course. That’s how it’s done on the big screen. The tie meant the match would be decided by penalty kicks. The U.S. team succeeded in each PK. Brazil, however, had one rejected. By Hope Solo. Just like in the movies.