The Shootout

wambach
Abby Wambach was sorely missed yesterday…

I just finished up watching the US-Sweden women’s soccer quarterfinal on NBCSN, and as many of you know by now, the Swedes kayoed the US women in a shootout after the ladies played 120 minutes to a 1-1 tie.

When the shootout was going on, I was telling someone with me, “I have a bad feeling about this, after Hope Solo missed catching that free kick the other night.”

For those of you who don’t follow soccer regularly, it’s only used during tournaments when a winner is needed. The fairness of shootouts to break ties has been questioned by soccer fans and media worldwide for the past couple of decades, including yours truly. Each team sends out five players to kick from the penalty spot, and whoever gets the most kicks home wins. If they tie after five kicks, they each get a kick each until the tie is broken, much like extra innings in baseball.

As things turned out, Sweden won the shootout 4-3. But hey, Olympic streaks come and go. The USA men’s basketball team won gold every year from 1936 to 1968, but lost to the Russians in 1972. (Though the circumstances were quite controversial.) India won every gold medal in men’s field hockey from 1928 to 1956 before Pakistan defeated them in the 1960 finals.

I was a Hope Solo fan, that is until yesterday when she said Sweden played cowardly. I found the comment totally illogical and irrelevant. Teams are allowed to play how they want within the rules, and soccer history is full of moments where teams play certain ways to achieve certain results. That’s soccer, and that’s also tournament soccer. If FIFA and the IOC have a problem with how Sweden played, the rules of women’s soccer will change with time.

Just congratulate the Swedes and let’s move on, shall we?

Things in the sports world always come and go, no matter the sport. The question is, was this a “speed bump” for the US women’s team, or the harbinger of more competition ahead?

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