There’s just something about the United States women’s soccer team, which will be competing against Japan for the Women’s World Cup title on Sunday at 2:45pm Eastern time. They certainly have a flair for the dramatic — tying Brazil in extra time to extra time and then winning on penalty kicks, plus scoring with just over 10 minutes left to take down France. However, it’s not just that they are winning, but the attitude they bring while doing it. The team is bursting with personalities, making their games the most entertaining TV around. With her bottle-blonde new wave haircut, Megan Rapinoe (who set up the final goals in each of the past two games) looks like she could be a keytar player for Flock of Seagulls. When she scored a goal of her own against Colombia, Rapinoe even grabbed a field microphone and started belting out “Born in the USA.” How much do you love that? Abby Wambach — who has saved the U.S. with two key goals on headers — is like Ripley in the Alien movies, destroying anything that dares to get in her path. But the woman I cannot take my eyes off of is goalie Hope Solo.
Much like Han Solo himself, Hope is a total badass. Okay, sometimes that gets her into a bit of trouble, like when she criticized her coach for not playing her in a 2007 World Cup game against Brazil and was subsequently kicked off the team, but guess what? She was right! The U.S. lost that game 4-0, with a few soft goals making their way into the net. Solos tell it like it is, people! Okay, Han may have been a tad off-base when he referred to Luke Skywalker’s Jedi training as “a lot of simple tricks and nonsense,” but he’s a guy that the Rebel Alliance wanted on their team, warts and all, and no matter what the sport, I want Hope on my team too.
Just watch her during the game, as she claps her mitts together, pounds the turf, and pumps her fists in the air and lets out a primal scream after a big save. The woman has charisma — and confidence — to burn. One of my favorite moments was an interview after the semi-final win over France. After Solo told an interviewer that even when France was dominating the middle of the game, she knew the U.S. would win because they enter every game expecting to win, the interviewer asked why they expected to win. “We know we’re damn good,” replied Solo. I don’t think I’ve ever heard any athlete — male or female –say something that brash in a long, long time. And I love it.
Forget about the crime procedural reruns and tacky reality TV shows that populate the summer TV schedule. The U.S. women’s soccer team has provided the most riveting entertainment around. And win or lose on Sunday, Hope Solo has been the star attraction. Now if we could just figure out a way to get her into the Big Brother house.
Will you be watching Sunday’s World Cup final? And who’s your favorite player on the U.S. team? Hit the message boards and let us know. And for more non-soccer related rambling, follow me on Twitter @EWDaltonRoss.