By Cody Dalton
O-N-E Sports Editor
On April 26, I wrote a column talking about my recent soccer fever. This past weekend, that fever broke out and became a full-flame epidemic.
I was keeping up with the recent FIFA Women’s World Cup, which took place in Germany from June 26 until this past Sunday. The tournament featured 16 of the best women’s soccer teams from around the globe.
The venue hosting the championship game of this three-week event was an amazing place called the Commerzbank-Arena, in Frankfurt, Germany. The arena has a 51,500-seat capacity and housed the 2006 Men’s World Cup.
My college roommate once told me that soccer was an extremely exciting sport and that there was a lot of intrigue. At the time, I couldn’t believe a sport that had scores of 1-0 or even 0-0 ties could be exciting at all. In fact, I saw the sport as boring for its lack of scoring.
As I watched the FIFA Women’s World Cup final between our beloved U.S. women’s soccer team and the Japanese women’s soccer team, I was in awe of what I was watching. It took until the 69th minute for the first goal to be scored, but Alex Morgan put the U.S. up 1-0.
Japan answered 11 minutes later with a goal in the 80th minute by Aya Miyama to tie the match, keeping Japan in the contest and sending the game into extra time.
Yet another goal in extra time by American sensation Abby Wambach, who has become famous for her many goals via the header shot, appeared to put the U.S. up for good.
After the goal was scored, I can remember the commentators making mentions that many politicians, including Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, were watching on as the U.S. was close to clinching the trophy.
Only 16 minutes remained in order for the United States to clinch another World Cup title — the first since the 1999 team, which was led by Mia Hamm and Brandi Chastain, and third title overall (1991, 1999).
However, the resilient Japan team would not go down without a fight. With three minutes remaining in extra time, Homare Sawa tied the match up, 2-2. After extra time was over, the match headed to penalty kicks.
During those penalty kicks Japan prevailed, capitalizing on a late injury suffered by U.S. goalie Hope Solo, which hurt her mobility. The Japanese won the match on penalty kicks, 3-1.
It is amazing that the two countries battling on the soccer pitch were also battling their own problems — the United States with an economic recession and the Japanese with the lingering effects of tsunamis, earthquakes and nuclear disaster. I can proudly say that if the U.S. were to lose to anyone, I’m glad it was the Japanese.
I don’t own one, but it looks like I’ll have to add a U.S. soccer jersey to my growing collection of sports jerseys. I know I’m looking forward to the next time that any soccer team suits up for the United States, which should be next summer in the Olympic games in England.
Although we lost, I’m proud of our effort. The ladies on the team represented our country proudly with the same characteristics we all hold in these tough times — determination, perseverance and the will to never give up.
Cody Dalton is sports editor of and a columnist for The Observer News Enterprise. His column appears in the Tuesday edition. Reach Dalton at firstname.lastname@example.org .