David Hirshey writes regularly for Deadspin about soccer.
We were Hope-less before it began. Who would have predicted that coach Greg Ryan would have pulled a tactical move out of the Grady Little playbook and substituted his long-time goalkeeper Hope Solo for the 136-year-old Brinna Scurry in today's Women's World Cup semifinal against Brazil?
I mean, on name choice alone you have to go with Hope Solo. I don't know if she comes with her own Millennium Falcon, but she certainly moves as fast. Plus, she had gone 300 World Cup minutes without giving up a goal.
Scurry, meanwhile, last made a meaningful save for the U.S. in 1999 when she stopped a penalty kick by China in the World Cup final. Not to put too fine a point on it, but if it hadn't been for that save, we would never have seen Brandi Chastain's bra, and my rich fantasy life would have been that much poorer.
That said, Brazil kicked our ass all over the field, and it probably won't have mattered if Peter Cech, Gianluigi Buffon and hell, HarperCollins' keeper Mike Signorelli had been in the goal at the same time. Certainly, none of them could have stopped Marta's Houdini-like goal in which the Brazilian forward backheeled the ball past a U.S. defender, spun around her and lashed the ball past the flailing Scurry. By the way, is it just me, or does Marta not look a lot like Joachim Noah? Only more masculine.
By then, the vaunted U.S. juggernaut, which hadn't lost in 50 games under Ryan, was in shambles, playing with only 10 women after Shannon Boxx was red-carded at the end of first half-stoppage time for a chippy foul. Oh, how they could have used the offensive firepower of Mrs. Garciaparra or the bullhorn leadership of Julie Foudy when Boxx was sent off, but the former U.S. captain has been kicked upstairs to the announcing booth where she tried mightily to keep her emotions in check while watching the debacle unfold. How sad it must have been for her to see her great friend and one-time teammate Kristine Lilly end her remarkable career like this.
But it's time for those of us '99 romantics to face reality: that much like the men's national basketball team, the rest of the world has not only caught up with us, they've, like Marta, scorched us on the dribble.
So it's safe to say that there will be no jersey-doffing after the consolation game this weekend. Thankfully, I can still enjoy looking at Oscar De La Hoya in his bra.