When the FIFA Women’s World Cup heads to Germany June 26-July 17, 2011, girls young and old will be glued like diligent disciples to the Super Bowl of our fairer sex.
Ever since Brandy Chastain ripped off her shirt and dropped to her knees, and each one of us dutifully-taped Sports Illustrated covers to our dorm room walls, American women of all identities and persuasions have been united every four years in futbol as we root, root, root for the Red, White and Blue.
But would we still watch if the Natasha Kai, Abby Wambach, Shannon Boxx, and company were at home watching the 2011 Cup from their living room La-Z-Boys like the rest of us?
It could happen. The 1991 and 1999 World Cup champions, defending Olympic gold medalists, and most successful women’s soccer nation on the globe might miss the sport’s marquee event.
Last Friday, the FIFA No. 1-ranked U.S. women’s national soccer team lost a shocker to Mexico, 2-1 in the CONCACAF Women’s World Cup Qualifying tournament in Cancun, Mexico. Friday’s anomaly marked the first ever win for Mexico over the United States and the first ever U.S. loss in CONCACAF Women’s World Cup qualifying history. The American’s have never before failed to qualify for a major tournament.
How’s that for drama?
To put it in perspective, this is like UConn women’s basketball losing an NCAA tournament game to Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts (student body enrollment: 75 undergraduate), or UCLA softball getting run-ruled by ITT Tech. inconceivable!
The U.S. national soccer team had been undefeated in its last 35 games (31-0-4) and, in the 25 times they had played Mexico before (Mexico had been 0-24-1 against the U.S.), the U.S. bested them by a cumulative score of 106-9. Ouch.
The States outshot No. 22 Mexico 17-8 on Friday but is now in danger of failing to reach the Women’s World Cup for the first time.
To qualify for the 2011 Women’s World Cup in Germany, the United States now must win the third-place game TONIGHT (Monday 6 p.m. ET live on ESPN2 ). If the U.S. beats Costa Rica, it will have also have to beat Italy in a home-and-home playoff series in Italy on Nov. 20 and at home in Toyota Park (Bridgeview, Ill.), on Nov. 27.
So girls, what are you doing tonight? You’re tuning in to ESPN2!
If they don’t win tonight, they don’t even get the chance to square off with Italy (the fifth-place finisher from European qualifying) for the final place at the FIFA Women’s World Cup Germany 2011.
… If they don’t win it’s a shame.