What’s next for the U.S. women’s Soccer team?
Right now, longtime soccer fans are doubtless sneering at the johnny- and jenny-come-latelies who got sucked at the last minute into the hype surrounding the Women?s World Cup finals last week. I am not one of those fans. Nope, I?m just like you — a former junior-high right wing (which is to soccer what right field is to baseball: a position where the deeply unathletic can do the least amount of damage) who caught a replay of the semifinals between the U.S. team and Brazil’s and found himself unaccountably swept up in the intensity, the strategy, the speed — and, oh yeah, the personalities.
But whereas one of the pleasures of professional baseball and basketball is watching how colorful, individual personalities work within (and sometimes against) the framework of the team, the excitement of the World Cup Finals was all about the gameplay. Which is to say that I was completely taken with Brianna Scurry not only because of her beautiful, ferocious focus, but because that focus had nothing to do with ego — it was utterly subservient to the needs of her teammates and to the situation of the game at that precise moment.
It may just be that soccer isn?t a game for showboaters: It?s hard to have a camera-grabbing tantrum when there are no timeouts. Now that the the U.S. team has taken the Cup, though, don?t be surprised if the marketing of individual players begins in earnest. Mia Hamm?s aquiline good looks and Brandi Chastain?s exhibitionist streak have made them prime candidates for the star treatment so far; to their credit, both women seem to consider such fuss a career perk at best and a distraction at worst. But in the wake of victory, and as momentum builds to create a women?s soccer league, you know that some players will sell themselves — or be sold — in the same celebrity terms as the Michael Jordans and Mark McGwires of this world. After all, that?s what we DO here in America.
To that end, and just for play, here?s how I?d cast the inevitable movie of the week. Damned if I can figure who?d play Julie Foudy, Kate Sobrero, or Shannon MacMillan — thoughts? suggestions? — but here?s the rest of the Finals team:
Mia Hamm Elizabeth Shue with a rinse
Brandi Chastain Melissa Etheridge
Briana Scurry Queen Latifah after a serious workout
Michelle Akers Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio
Kristine Lilly Peter Horton with a sex change
Joy Fawcett Tracey Ullman
Carla Overbeck Laura Linney
Tisha Venturini Michelle Williams