The drama, the anguish, the perceived unfairness, the actual unfairness, the flopping, the excessive use of magic spray, The never-give-up attitude of Team USA. It actually was as good as the overdramatic ESPN highlights made it out to be.
First off, there's a lot of talk about the Brazilians excessive gamesmanship, I guess I watch too much NBA because I didn't think it was that bad. Yes, they were quite dramatic and managed to turn all neutrals in the crowd against them and the sudden non-contact injury suffered by Ericka was ridiculous (ah, the restorative powers of a 3 second stretcher ride).
But Brazil is fun to watch, if incapable of playing like an actual team. Marta is both "deft and clever", fast, mean, OMG dramatic, talky, and has super fancy feet. But Brazil reminded me a bit of a Mike D'Antoni coached Suns team - only interested in offense - but without the "team" aspect.
The US played solid in the first thirty minutes, after receiving a gift of an own goal 74 seconds in. But Brazil was showing dangerous offensive flashes by the end of the half. It was only when the US got good and pissed, after Rachel Bueler got sent off in the 66th min. and Brazil was rewarded a second penalty kick for some sort of alleged US infraction, that they started playing with grit and determination.
Hope Solo lived up to the "best in the world" tag, stopping a PK to give the US the win. She is someone you love on your team, hate when she's playing you. Attitude galore. If you noticed during the PKs, Solo walked out to goal slowly, sauntering closer and closer to the Brazilians with the "bithz please" face in full effect until the side ref started following to shoo her in goal. But she had the goods and Kevin Durant has vowed to name his daughter after her.
Abby Wambach was a stud (who is not surprised at this?) Christine Rampone and Shannon Boxx were completely solid. Megan Rapinoe came on in the second half and provided a spark, a dash of punk elfin attitude and a ball delivered square to Wambach's head in the 122nd minute. The US fitness sure played a part, as Brazil appeared to be sucking air, the US seemed less gassed- even with covering the field with 10.
With Japan's improbable upset of Germany, all of a sudden the US road to the World Cup looks pretty good.