"That's not what was supposed to happen."
"What in the hell just happened?"
"We gave the game away, we should've won that game."
"It just wasn't meant to be, the sports Gods weren't with us today."
The previous quotes were all heard over my buddy Chanta's crib this weekend, with the fourth quote was my own quote. Emotions ranged from anger to denial after a devastating loss and a phenomenal win as Japan defeated the United States 3-1 in penalty kicks after playing 120 minutes on the pitch to a 2-2 draw in the 2011 Women's World Cup. In what was one of the most magical World Cup's I've ever seen, this championship match featured as many peaks and valleys as any of the great games in the tournament. Moreover, if you watched the entire match it seemed that the U.S. women's soccer squad had the game in control versus their Japanese counterparts.
However, for what the sports Gods giveth...they will most assuredly taketh away.
So many times in sports the two sides that clash will often be paired as one being the favorite and one being the underdog. A David vs. Goliath, if you will. Well, if you take it back one week ago we can clearly remember this scenario before our very eyes. Brazil was Goliath, and the United States were David. (In actuality, the two teams were 2 of the top 3 teams in the world, but that doesn't mean the story can't be written to tell you otherwise) What transpired was an epic battle between two teams that resulted in the US pulling a game out of their proverbial asses after Brazil scored immediately in extra-time by their star forward (Marta), then the US rebuttaled with an awesome header in the game's final minutes (Abby Wambach) and then the goalie making a phenomenal penalty-kick save (Hope Solo) while the team finished the game off in a cool-like fashion to advance.
Hmmmmm....that sounds REAL familiar, doesn't it?
Sequence of events after the 1-1 tie, resulting in extra-time:
Opposing team's star-forward scores opening goal in extra-time: Wambach (US)
The rebuttal with an awesome header in the game's final minutes: Homare Sawa (Japan) The goalie making phenomenal penalty-kick save(s): Ayumi Kaihori (Japan)
The underdog finishes the game off in a cool-like fashion to win: Japan
The sports Gods did not care who "seemed" to be the better side. It wasn't meant for the US to win on Sunday. Didn't matter that the US out-shot Japan nearly 2-to-1 (27 to 14) on Sunday. Didn't matter that the US seemed to have the stronger, more imposing players. Didn't matter that the US had more big-game experience than the Japanese side. Nope, Japan's determination, skill, and luck (not a diss, luck is only created from the previous two characteristics) took them through and brought celebration, joy, and sheer happiness to a country who has gone through a ton over the past 12 months.
Is Japan's past transgressions the reason why they won yesterday? It's not something any of us will be able to answer, but the emotional strings will be pulled to make folks feel that way. To me, its the reason why there's a movie called "Any Given Sunday" and its the reason why you roll the balls out there and play the damn game before you crown anybody. Because you never know what will happen.