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Watching Japan face Germany yesterday showed me once again why soccer or Football as it is called around the world is such a great sport.Â No, it was not the greatest soccer match Iâ€™ve seen nor was it the most anticipated, it didnâ€™t include the biggest names of the sport; what we got to see was the same thing we see on the menâ€™s side.Â There is such skill involved in the sport, that the seamless transition from Â watching the men play to watching the women is remarkableâ€¦youâ€™re either good or youâ€™re not , and the women are good.
There was such excitement and the underdog won-the underdog being the Japanese team 1-0 playing with heavy hearts against a stacked home team in Germany.
The most anticipated match of the knockout round or quarter finals is between Brazil and USA, two teams who are very familiar with one another.Â Brazil beat the U.S team 4 years ago but has not had much success against the U.S with an overall record of 4-22.Â Brazil shows up of course confident in what they do and the loose style in which they playâ€¦in fact they got off their bus singingÂ and playing Brazilian instruments that sort off resemble dancing on the field.Â Indeed, a match worthy of a final.
For the U.S, Heather Oâ€™reilly is back after not being available and for Hope Solo this is a chance to let her play speak for her after the debacle 4 years ago in which she felt she belonged on the field.
At 11:30, the match was officially on the way and it didnâ€™t take long for someone to strikeâ€¦Yes an own goal, but a minute into the match the U.S goes up 1-0 in an unexpected eventful beginning.Â The Brazilian defenders look very jittery early on and it cost them, the frustration starts early for the Brazil side but it has been an unorganized game for both sides during the first half of the match.Â No one has been able to hold on to the ball and Marta continues to show frustration which eventually led to a yellow card for mouthing off.Â The first half was played poorly by the Brazilians who didnâ€™t get many shots on goal and their opponent didnâ€™t seem to want to capitalize on the poor play.
The defense was good on the American side considering the talent level of the opponent but how long they will keep a zero on the Brazilian score sheet.
The second half starts and we see the play pick up and the Brazilians have made an effort to apply pressure which has led to many more opportunities already within the first few minutes of the half.
After the 60th minute, things took a turn from bad to worse for the Americansâ€¦After a beautiful move by Marta reminiscent of Ronaldinho, another famous Brazilian player in which she was being guarded by two back defenders in the box; she was awarded a penalty kick.Â A controversial red card was given to Rachel Buehler which left the American side with 10 players against a resurgent Brazil team.
The penalty kick taken was blocked but in another controversial twist, the referees determined that the kick would be taken again because a player encroached prior to the kick being taken.Â Marta now was given the opportunity to finish the play she started, which she did with nice placement of the ball at the bottom right corner tying the game in the 68th minute.
The U.S played very well given their lack of a full squad on the field but playing with 10 players in this humidity will be challenging.
A touch of brilliance again from the Brazilians which resulted in a goal from Marta in the 93rd minute, putting them up 2-1 early in over timeâ€¦She being the best player in the world, placed the ball where Solo could not reach it.
With 2 minutes left in extended time, Abby Wambach saves the U.S for the time being and ties the game in the 120th minute with a tremendous header.Â After being quiet for the first 119 minutes, the lone striker came alive tying the gameâ€¦and play continues.
So now we watch penalty kicks, the second in as many games in this tournament in what has turned out to be a great and exciting game.
This is by far the tensest situation in sports aside from bottom of the ninth, man on second with 2 outs in the World Series in Yankee stadiumâ€¦yes itâ€™s that tense.Â But after the Brazilians missed their 3rd penalty kick, it started to look bleak. Â Then Wambach came and calmly placed the ball in the back of the net, it was pretty much over.
After playing 55 plus minutes with 10 men, now they must face France in a game that will have a hard time living up to this epic and classic game.
You justÂ couldn’tÂ write this any better for the U.Sâ€¦we will see if there is a story book ending, after this game in the words of Wamback â€śwe must win.â€ť