U.S. Women’s National team goalkeeper Hope Solo got it right: “There is something special about this group. that energy, that vibe,’’ Solo said. “Even in overtime, you felt something was going to happen.’’ And it did! The U.S. women pulled off one of the most stunning and thrilling victories in World Cup history when they stormed back from a 2-1 deficit late in the game for a penalty kick shootout victory against favored Brazil in the quarterfinals of the Women’s World Cup in Dresden, Germany last Sunday.
The thrill was set up after the U.S., leading 1-0 for most of the game from an own goal by Brazilian defender Daiane, wound up a player short with 24 minutes left after Rachel Buehler was sent off for a foul on Marta, which led to Marta’s penalty kick equalizer for Brazil. In the ensuing 30-minute overtime period, as the minutes ticked off the clock, Marta scored her second goal of the game late in the overtime period to give Brazil the lead for the first time.
The Americans kept coming and in the 122nd minute, the final minute of play, second half U.S. substitute Megan Rapinoe sent a cross from the left side to teammate Abby Wambach, who rose above Brazilian goalkeeper Andreia and a defender to head home the tying goal and send the pro-American crowd of 25,000-plus into a frenzy. It was a remarkable display of determination, focus and resilience by the American women, who got the well-deserved win.
Brazil did not play a smart game and did not play enough. They failed to show the urgency needed to push forward and attack the U.S. with their player-advantage; they were too casual for a team playing with a one-player advantage. Instead, it was the Americans who lifted their game and outplayed the Brazilians in the latter stages.
In the penalty kick shootout, Solo made an inspiring save on Daiane’s kick, which was the difference in the game, as all other shooters on both sides made their shots. Defender Aly Krieger had the final say as she made the winning shot, only to be swarmed by her teammates in a sea of elation.
The U.S. was expected to play Wednesday, in a semifinal against France, which eliminated England, 4-3, on penalty kicks on Saturday. The other semifinal that day will pit Sweden, a 3-1 winner over Australia, versus a determined Japan, which pulled out one of the biggest upsets in World Cup history by defeating favored and hosts Germany, 1-0, in overtime.
The U.S. win came 12 years to the day when another U.S. goalkeeper, Brianna Scurry made the save of her life to pave the way for Brandi Chastain’s winning penalty kick against China in front of 90-plus fans at Pasadena’s Rose Bowl and a worldwide television audience for its second World Cup win in 1999. “We’re just fighting for each other out there,’’ said captain Christie Rampone, the last player from the 1999 squad. “We were totally believing the whole time.’’
For Marta, the goals were her 13th and 14th of her career; she tied German Birgit Prinz as the leading scorers all-time in World Cup play. “Everything seemed to be on the safe side, but it wasn’t,’’ Brazil coach Kleiton Lima said. “Unfortunately there was the goal.’’
Copa NYC Jamaica advances
The Copa NYC Jamaica team qualified for the quarterfinals of the Cosmos Copa NYC soccer tournament by racking up two wins and a draw last Saturday at Corona Park in Flushing Meadow, N.Y. Jamaica beat Ecuador 1-0, knocked off Trinidad and Tobago, 3-1, and tied eventual group winner Senegal, 1-1. Senegal won the group on goal difference.
Next up for Jamaica is England at 10:00 a.m. at Corona Park on Sunday. In other quarterfinal match-ups on Sunday at the same venue, Haiti plays Senegal, Mexico versus Ireland and defending New York Cosmos Copa champion Poland plays Greece. Games are noon, 2:00 p.m., 4:00 p.m. The New York Cosmos Copa is a local tournament for the teams of different nationalities in New York.
United over Red Bulls in MLS
Dwayne De Rosario returned with a vengeance to help DC United defeat the New York Red Bulls, 1-0, at Red Bull Arena in MLS play Saturday night. De Rosario was traded to DC United only two weeks earlier after spending a month in a Red Bulls uniform. The New York team brought in De Rosario from Toronto, but his stay was very short. The midfielder scored off a nifty through pass from Josh Wolfe in the 61st minute to give United its first win in eight matches.
In other MLS games, in a heated match-up at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California, the Los Angeles Galaxy defeated the Chicago Fire, 2-1, on Saturday night. David Beckham cross in the 58th minute was headed in by Donovan and in the 66th minute, his corner kick sailed through a sea of defenders and into the Chicago goal. The Galaxy has a league-best unbeaten streak of 12 matches.
Hosts Sporting Kansas City came up with a last minute effort to tie Chivas USA, 1-1. Omar Bravo headed a ball for the tying goal late in the contest after Nick LaBrocca gave Chivas the lead in the 30th minute. Hosts Houston Dynamo knocked off Toronto FC, 2-0. Goals from Danny Cruz (50th minute) and Geoff Cameron (59th) paced Houston scored to give Houston a home victory against Toronto FC. Home team Real Salt Lake downed FC Dallas, 2-0. Former Jamaican international Andy Williams’ free kick (47th) and Fabian Espindola’s stoppage time goal gave Real Salt Lake the win.
Hosts Colorado Rapids got goals from Conor Casey (25th) and Scott Palguta (68th) to defeat the Vancouver Whitecaps, 2-1. These goals were enough for Colorado to end its four-game winless streak. Casey scored his sixth goal of the season, while Camilo Sanvezzo also scored his sixth goal of the season for Vancouver. The San Jose Earthquakes and the visiting Philadelphia Union played to a goalless draw. Seattle beat Portland, 3-2, Sunday.