Retirement Guys: Never Give UpWritten by Nolan Baker Mark Clair | | firstname.lastname@example.org
If you watched the World Cup quarterfinal match of United States vs. Brazil, you witnessed one of the greatest matches in U.S. soccer history. No soccer fan will forget the U.S. women’s team’s dramatic victory in the World Cup 12 years ago to the day in 1999 when Brandy Chastain scored the winning penalty kick goal and whipped off her jersey to wave it in the air in triumph as her teammates mobbed her. This game against Brazil was not to win the whole tournament, but it could not have been more dramatic.
The U.S. team had been blown out 4-0 four years ago in the World Cup by this same Brazil team with arguably the greatest player in the world, the sensational Marta. What is the deal anyway, with single names for Brazilian players such as Marta, Ronaldo, Robinho, Juan and Kaka? It seems the Brazilian players have a flair for the dramatic and this adds to it. But, Kaka? It sounds like something undesirable like doo-doo. Just curious and I digress. Anyway, it seems the U.S. team had a score to settle with Brazil.
The game began with the U.S. team getting a huge break in the first minute when a shot towards the Brazilian goal deflected off a Brazil defender (Daiane) into the goal for an “own goal” and a 1-0 U.S. lead. This was the beginning of the drama. Throughout the game it seemed that the Brazilian team outplayed the U.S. and it was a matter of time that they would break through and seize control of the game. The U.S. tight defense was able to hold off the Brazilians for the entire first half and into the second half when the next moment of drama occurred.
The superstar Marta made a move toward the goal into the U.S. goalie box and jumped into the air as defender Rachel Buehler tried to stay with her shoulder to shoulder. Marta tried to kick the ball into the goal and went down in a heap with Buehler appearing to drag her down. If you are not familiar with the rules, if an offensive player attempts to score a goal inside the opposing team’s goal box and is hauled down, it results in a penalty kick and an almost sure goal. Not only was Buehler whistled for hauling Marta down and a penalty kick called, but was give the dreaded “red card” which means ejection from the game. Ironically the replays showed that Marta was not pulled down and a penalty never should have been called.
Now it gets even more dramatic. The penalty shot is taken and U.S. goalie Hope Solo makes a sensational save. The U.S. team averts disaster. But, wait. The referee makes an astonishing call that Solo moved off the goalie line too early and awards a re-kick to Brazil. Again, replays show this did not happen. Brazil scores it and the game is tied at one.
The drama is about to increase again. Neither team can break through with a score in the regulation time of 90 minutes, so the game goes to two 15 minute extra time periods. In the first 2 minutes of overtime, Marta gets free near the U.S. goal and scores an acrobatic goal. It appears that Brazil is offside which would disallow the goal, but guess what? The referee does not call it. It appears the U.S. is doomed. They are down a goal to what appears to be an athletically superior team and, they are also down a player. When Buehler got sent off earlier, the rules do not allow a replacement. The first 15-minute period ends with Brazil up 2-1 and now deep into the second 15 minutes it appears this is the way it will end. Brazil players even appear to be faking injury to delay and draw boos from the crowd.
Can it get anymore dramatic? The answer is yes.
The referee at her discretion adds on time at the end of regulation for delays in the game due to injury and in this game adds on 3 minutes. We are now 2 minutes into “extra time” when a miracle happens. Megan Rapinoe sends a beautiful cross towards the goal and U.S. star Abby Wambach heads it in for the tying goal. Unbelievable. The latest goal ever scored in U.S. history and against all odds. Ah, but the game is not over yet. Tied at the end of overtime, the game goes to penalty kicks. 5 kicks are allowed for each side to determine a winner. The first kick by the American side is saved by the Brazil goalie, but wait. The save is disallowed because she moved off her line too early and the Americans are awarded a re-kick and scored. Destiny becomes clear, and the Americans make all five kicks. Unfortunately for Daiane, who knocked in the “own goal” into her own net early in the game, she is the one who is victimized by a spectacular save by Hope Solo. Americans win!!!!
After the game Abby Wambach talked about scoring the winning goal and the Americans as the British say “coming back from the death.” “I think that that was a perfect example of what our country is about,” she said. “The history of this team has always been we never give up.” I (Mark) got chills when I heard her say this. Tony DiCicco, who is a former U.S. head coach and now a commentator on ESPN said, “This was a celebration of the American human spirit. For them to come back down a player, down a goal, score on the last kick of the game and then win on penalty kicks.” Bob Ley of ESPN said, “You could not invent this script.”
Whether or not you are a sports fan, this game was an example of what can happen when you combine a couple key things:
1. Belief-the U.S. team believed in themselves and each other.
2. Perseverence-they would not quit even though it seemed hopeless.
3. Remember the first name of the U.S. goalie? HOPE.
Now go our and do your best to apply this to your life in some way. See what happens.
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