Nothing like an unexpected loss to propel a match previously considered a gimme to the primetime spotlight on ESPN2. The surest indicator that people were suddenly thinking about the US women's national soccer team, or at least one part of it? This blog got triple its usual number of daily "abby wambach girlfriend" hits in the three hours leading up to kickoff time. go figure.
Anyhoo, the... Mollies? Does anyone remember when the US supporters made a tentative attempt at getting that nickname to stick, in honor of Molly Pitcher? Would've been so cool, even without the bared bosom. Whatever we want to call them, the US women won last night on the strength of three goals, all in the first half, two by Sarah Huffman's girlfriend. Lauren Cheney got the other.
What did we learn? Mostly, that the US is indeed able to move the ball smartly around the field when they are largely unopposed. The precise passing game was lovely to watch for the first 25 minutes, until I remembered that Costa Rica is ranked 46 spots below the US in the FIFA rankings, and noticed that right there around minute 25--perhaps out of frustration at the decided lack of an avalanche of goals--the US reverted back to long balls flung into the box from 40 yards away, hoping to find Wambach's head. The goals came when they settled down after another 10 minutes or so, but the final one came on a counter after a Costa Rican forward broke free down the middle and screamed in alone on goal, only to put the ball wide when Barnhart came out to challenge. Six inches to the left and it might have been a very different dynamic at the end of the half.
And Amy Rodriguez came in as an early second-half sub to play on the wing. Interesting! And with that, having waited to start watching the DVRed game until 9:00, I promptly passed out on the couch. So I have no idea how that worked out, although the score didn't change. I like Cheney up top with Abby, and still hope we see a three-front on the chance they make it to Germany this summer.
So it's on to Italy, then Chicago. We will see.