the votes are in, and...US women's soccer wins. i'm not gonna lie, i'm kind of surprised. suddenly i feel a little self-conscious, like i made the title too interesting and only disappointment can follow. but i'm telling myself that if this is boring it's your fault because you picked this topic.
this is now old news, but i guess that's the advantage of writing about the women's world cup--for all you know, the final is going to be played tomorrow night in pakistan (actually: last month in china). so just in case you didn't get up at 5am during the tournament to catch the US attempt to win their third world cup (did you know we're actually good at women's soccer? this is hopefully not the greatest success that feminism's struggle has brought our country, but it's a nice bonus), here's the story:
the united states played well, but perhaps not as dominantly as many had expected, in winning their first round group. they advanced to a semifinal game against brazil, which was certain to test the team more than any of their first games had. just before the semifinal, US coach greg ryan made the unexpected move of pulling starting goalkeeper hope solo for 36 year old backup briana scurry. after allowing 2 goals in the first game of the tournament (while the US played short one player), solo had strung together some 300 consecutive minutes without allowing a goal, and by all accounts was in excellent form (she also started almost all of the 50+ consecutive games they'd won coming in to the semi). scurry, on the other hand, hadn't started or played in months and was doubtlessly rusty. coach ryan made this decision because he believed scurry would be good at the kind of reaction saves brazil's insanely loaded and creative offense would presumably necessitate. he based this on scurry's performances against brazil, especially what was probably the best game of her career in the olympic semifinals three years ago. to say this decision was risky is to say it's reckless to drive 100 mph through downtown chicago. without a seat belt. drunk. blindfolded. and...with really hot coffee in your lap. as most people might have predicted, the US fell apart and lost badly (4-0), the team's unity was shaken, solo criticized her coach, and was completely ostracized from the team.
because the idiocy of the decision was so mind-boggling, and because just saying "worst coaching ever!" didn't quite satisfy my need to quantify the truly awe-inspiring display of incompetence, i found myself struggling before the game to think of an analogy, or a corollary, or some famous previous blunder for comparison. i thought there wasn't any, but then i remembered the simpson's episode where a bunch of major league all-stars play for the springfield power plant's softball team. remember that one? in the last inning of the championship, the game is tied and the bases are loaded, and darryl strawberry is up to bat. but then montgomery burns, acting as manager, benches strawberry for a drunk homer simpson, who's been sitting in the dugout drinking beer all game. strawberry protests that he's hit 9 home runs in this game. burns says "you should be very proud" and then explains that the opposing team's pitcher is a lefty, so in sending a right-handed batter to the plate, burns is playing the odds. in addition to being an excellent episode, this episode provides a precedent for our coach ryan. the sheer number of analogous factors makes my toes wiggle with satisfaction. in the show, homer gets beaned, passes out, and springfield wins the game. unfortunately for the US, nothing really exciting happens when you get hit with the ball in soccer (although even that would have necessitated scurry reaching the ball before it went into the goal), and the US suffered its worst loss ever, lost a shot at winning the world cup, and risked losing one of the best goalies in the world.
"this is all well and good, jeremy, but i've just spent 10 minutes reading this--do you have a point?" that is an excellent question, and i'm glad you asked, reader! i'm not sure, so here's a multiple choice-style conclusion to this post:
a.) coach ryan is maybe the worst coach in the history of women's soccer. he may also be the worst coach in the history of coaching, women, and history.
b.) there's a simpsons reference for everything that happens in life!
c.) apparently there's world cup for women, too.
d.) none of the above. and i want my ten minutes back!
also, i sort of liked the way this voting thing worked, so i think i'm going to make it a permanent fixture. some titles will change, some will stay, and new ones will be added. so pick your favorite...
1. sleep talking
2. faq med school [include a question]
3. kim vs. the chicago transit authority
4. critical mass [formerly known as "biggest bike ride ever"]
5. my life with a cadaver