I went to bed early last night. Yes, to make today come faster. Just like a ten-year-old on Christmas Eve. And instead of carols in my head it's been that fucking glorious but maddening Megan Rapinoe song on a constant loop, there when I drifted off and oh yeah, riiiiight there when I woke up. Can't get it out.
You already have my starting lineup wish list, and much like the Christmas wish list that always includes a jetpack, I don't expect a 4-3-3 with no extra Lloyds to be waiting under the tree. Given the inviolable 4-3-Lloyd-2, I'm just hoping that the central midfield either has an uncharacteristically solid game against Japan's precision possession, or that Pia concedes and subs in the midfield we finished with against France, but before they get dissected too bad.
Things I did not expect:
1. Wambach's sudden resurgence. It couldn't have happened at a better time. But if the group game strategy of shooting from 30 yards out is simply going to morph back into vintage 2009 fling-it-up-and-hope-Abby-gets-it, that won't be so great. Be that as it may, the winning goal will come off her noggin. It just can't end any other way now.
2. A-Rod's disappearance. I thought last season's move away from Boston and DiCicco had finally unlocked her confidence and let her turn into the forward we thought she'd be. But this entire Cup has been spent running very fast and then losing the ball or winging it closer to the cheap seats than to the goal. Balls finally quit coming her way. When it's apparent that the team doesn't trust one of the two strike options with a pass, it's time to change.
3. Ali Krieger. Damn. Just damn. Krieger has been the most consistent and dependable person on the field for the entire tournament. Her decision to spend an entire season out of contract in order to work on her game and land a spot with the nats looks brilliant now, for her and for us.
4. The Wambach-Solo lovefest. If those two can roll around on the grass and then walk off with their arms around each other, it's way past time for everyone to stop talking about 2007. The photo of the two of them post-Brazil is the new Webster's picture accompanying the entry for Getting Over It.
5. ESPN. Fucking killer coverage, guys. This was not an afterthought grudgingly produced with interns and stashed away on Classic or U. Flagship channels, actual analysis, and a blessed bare minimum of human interest stories--and even those have a soccer angle first rather than treacle. It's all about the football.
6. Germany. Before the Cup started, I had read that nobody really cared about it there, at least not to anything remotely approaching the extent of the passion surrounding the men's Cup they hosted. But the stadiums have been pleasantly full, TV ratings are sky-high (even after Germany was eliminated), and everything I have read since reports outstanding enthusiasm across the country. A lot of people watching for the first time are impressed by the level of play. Shit, I'm blown away by the overall quality and I'm one of the die-hards.
My prediction for today? US 3-1.
Addendum: Glad Sweden took third. I liked watching both teams play, but Bompy's crap move to provoke Oqvist into a red card tipped it for me.