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World Cup Starts Now

As if I didn’t have enough going on in my life already, the World Cup finals just got under way.

The Women’s World Cup.  It’s being played in China, and the United States played its opening match today against North Korea.

I love women’s soccer.  Sixteen years ago, I sent away by mail order for videotapes of the US matches in the inaugural WWC, also played in China.  That tournament introduced me to Michelle Akers, then and now the most powerful and fearless player I believe the US has ever produced — male or female.

All but one of the players from that US team have retired.  Kristine Lilly carries on, tirelessly.  This year’s team, however, is young and relatively inexperienced on the international stage, and the US no longer has the benefit of a domestic professional league.  A win in this tournament would be great — but it’s by no means a sure thing.

In today’s opener, the US was lucky to escape with a 2-2 draw against a faster, fitter, and more poised Korean team.  The match was fast-paced and full of attacking play — a pleasant change from what we’ve come to expect in the men’s game. US goalkeeper Hope Solo saved the Americans’ single point with a brilliant diving save in the 92nd minute.  Sweet redemption for a mental error that gave the North Koreans the equalizer earlier in the match.