As a soccer fan I am always disappointed when the domestic seasons come to an end. I drown my sorrows, thinking about the seemingly endless void of a summer without soccer. Without a World Cup, and no European Championships to behold I was thinking I would have to endure a summer with "no soccer"………. WRONG! As a student of the game I am continuously learning more and more about the game, and I have been BEYOND pleasantly surprised in how much soccer has there been this summer. In a supposed off season with no World Cup and Euros there has been so much soccer, it's been hard to keep up!
To start there is the Copa America being held in Argentina. With such teams competing as Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile,Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Mexico,Paraguay, Peru Uruguay and Venezuela. The tournament on a whole has been hmmm…somewhat disappointing, with the big guns of Argentina and Brazil floundering a bit. Some other teams have shown up refreshing the pack, like Chile, who's attacking style lead by Alexis Sanchez has created a fantastic spectacle and has painted them a prime contender to win it. Colombia has taken the tournament by storm with striker Radamel Falcao "EL Tigre," continuing his red hot form on the back of his Europa League final win with Porto. This tournament is televised on Univision, and will be coming down to the penultimate pretty soon.
There are two World Cups taking place this summer, the U-17 World Cup and the Women's World Cup being held in Germany. The U-17 World Cup has come to a climax as Mexico (the hosts) beat Uruguay 2:0 in the final. It was an exciting tournament in which the youth, and future prospects where on display, keeping the scouts from the top clubs busy.
Perhaps the tournament taking place this summer with the most prestige, is the Women's World Cup. I happen to love it! Its the only event in world soccer that the USA is illegitimate contender for silverware. From Hope solo(nice), the goalie to Abby Wambach, the bullish center forward the team is stacked with talent. Tearing through the group stage, only to finish second after being defeated by Sweden, to which the prize was facing Brazil in the Quarter finals. The expectations of this game did not disappoint! I have watched a lot of football in my youthful life , and this was one of the most exciting games I have ever seen. It had everything! Goals, red-card, penalties, and a last minute equalizer sending it to PK's. In the words of Ian Darke,"GO GO USA!!!" Megan Rapinoe got to the touch-line and swung in a cross, finding Abby Wambach's head, and sending it past Brazilian keeper. This 122 minute goal induced a similar ecstatic reaction from the commentator Darke, as Donovan's last minute goal in against Algeria in 2010. The USA went on to win on penalties, sending them to the semi-finals against
France. This Match was similar to the one against Brazil in that the US where second best for most of the match, even though securing a goal first. American determination prevailed in the end as they went on to win 3:1. Substitutes Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe both had an immense impacts coming of the bench, as the two combined to seal the win. The US will face the winner of Sweden and Japan in the final.
In the world of soccer, women's soccer is viewed as second to the men's game. Even female friends I have who play soccer for top universities, when asked if they are following the Women's World Cup answer…"I don't watch women's soccer." This bewilders me! Yes the talent on display may be not at the highest level, but it's nothing to snub. What the women do very well it the technical aspects of the game, they pass the ball well, run their hearts out and for the most part leave the theatrics out of the game.
When viewing the soccer that would be on display at the start of the summer, the Women's World Cup frankly wasn't being marked down on my calendar. I was certainly more interested in the Copa America, but as the summer has progressed my interest has flip-flopped. Compared to the World Cup the Copa America has been flat and a bit dull.
Part of what has hooked me onto the Women's game has been ESPNs presentation of it. It is on par with the presentation for the World Cup last summer in South Africa. You could also chalk this up the Germans and their organization of the tournament. Efficiency and a seamless production seems to be in their nature.
I have been pleasantly surprised in the soccer on display, and the excitement I have felt through the duration of the tournament. It has stolen my focus this summer from the other competitions, and I will continue to support Women's National Team and their quest for world domination.