Phase one of the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup is complete for the United States Women’s National Team.
Powered by a goal from Abby Wambach, Team USA defeated Nigeria, 1-0, yesterday to win Group D and advance to the Round of 16. After two games of somewhat disjointed midfield play and lackluster overall performances, the U.S. put its foot on the gas pedal and ran right over the Super Eagles, despite the narrow scoreline.
Watch 29-year-old midfielder Megan Rapinoe play soccer for five, 10 minutes — or even just one possession — and something becomes vividly clear: She is a rampaging tornado of confidence. And that was on full display in Winnipeg, Canada, yesterday. She scored twice and set up another goal to help the United States Women’s National Team defeat Australia, 3-1, in its opening match of the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
Rapinoe shoots a lot, from positions all over the field. If she played basketball instead of soccer, she’d probably take 10 three-pointers in the first quarter, miss six, and keep on looking for buckets all game long. But Rapinoe’s confidence and ability to shake off mistakes is a huge part of what makes her such an electrifying player (along with her tremendous talent). Rapinoe’s unflinching self-belief and eagerness to take a chance shone through in both of her goal-scoring efforts.
There's not a whole lot Abby Wambach hasn't accomplished. Since she first suited up for the U.S. Women's National Team in 2001, Wambach has scored more goals — 178 — than any other American player, male or female. She's won two Olympic gold medals. She's won an ESPY Award for Best Play. In April, she even went on American Idol to present host Ryan Seacrest with a U.S. jersey and an offer to be the team's waterboy in this summer's Women's World Cup.
There is one thing missing from that list, however. She's never won a World Cup. Oh, she's come close. Wambach was on the U.S. teams that made the semifinals in 2003 and '07. In '11, she put on an incredible display of clutch goal scoring. In the quarterfinals, she headed home a goal in the 122nd minute to send the game to a shootout, which the U.S. won. (It was the latest goal in World Cup history.) In the semifinals, she scored the game-winner against France with just over 11 minutes to play. And in the final game, she scored another extra-time goal, this one against Japan, to give the U.S. a 2--1 lead — and, seemingly, the Cup.
Four years ago, the U.S. women’s soccer team’s fate was decided when a ball was placed on the penalty line and shot into the net. Japanese fans at the 2011 World Cup in Germany erupted into cheers; their smaller country had felled one of women’s soccer’s giants to win the tournament.
The United States has not forgotten that loss. And as the 2015 Women’s World Cup kicks off in Canada, the Americans, who play Monday night, plan to avenge it.
The U.S. is among the top teams in this year’s playing field. According to the website FiveThirtyEight, the team has the highest chance (28 percent) of victory.
The Americans’ intense desire for victory was evident at media day in New York City. Forward Abby Wambach summed it up when she said, “I need it.”
Mix Diskerud, a Norwegian-born midfielder for the New York City Football Club, visited Brooklyn in early May to surprise two youth soccer teams with familiar sounding names: Team Mix 8’s and Team Diskerud 10’s. These teams are part of a club with Norwegian roots called Sporting Club Gjoa that has been playing in Brooklyn since 1911.
Historically the club has named its teams after famous Norwegian players, and this year the coaches challenged the players to choose their teams’ names. One of the players came up with the idea to call their squad Team Mix. Then, kids from a different team started arguing that they wanted to change the name of their team, and Team Diskerud was born.
Our moms do a lot for us, and we should celebrate them everyday. But that’s especially true on Sunday, which is Mother’s Day. To mark the occasion, we asked four star athletes to share the wise words from mom that helped prepare them for success.
Work Now, Play Later
Advice from Danielle Payton, mother of Orlando Magic point guard Elfrid Payton
"Growing up, my mom always advised me that it was important to take care of my work before I played," says Elfrid. "I wasn't allowed to play basketball or hang out with my friends until all my homework was done. My mom always wanted us to prioritize work before play because she wanted to make sure we knew where to focus our efforts throughout our lives. To this day, I make sure that I take care of any work obligations first because my mom's voice in my head is saying, 'Keep working, keep working, and the fun stuff will be that much more rewarding.' Whether it's getting reps in the gym, eating healthy, or watching film — all of that needs to be done first. That work ethic has been ingrained in me since day one thanks to my mom. I give credit to my mom for fostering a drive for success in me because, as an athlete, you have to make sure that you focus on what you need to get done first and foremost. I also plan on finishing my education degree in a few years because I know how important it is, thanks to my mom. She works hard at her job helping people with disabilities find and maintain employment, and I look up to her for that. She always made sure we had what we needed. For that I am grateful."
Three hours. That’s all that separates two fierce rivals.
The Seattle Sounders and Portland Timbers have been playing each other for 40 years in four different leagues in what has become the best and most intense rivalry in Major League Soccer. And on April 26, the two clubs met for the latest round on a chilly but clear night in Seattle.
Members of the Timbers Army (an independent fan group) had traveled 175 miles up Interstate 5 to see their team knock off their bitter rivals on the road, while the Emerald City Supporters (the Army’s counterpart) were chanting and singing, defending their turf. In a chippy and physical game in which a total of four yellow cards were handed out, the Sounders battled to a 1-0 win.