The talk around the office this past Monday was all about the US Women’s National Soccer Team. Did you see that game on TV? USA vs. Japan: The US Women dominated the game with a final score of 5 – 2. Aside from a USA “own” goal, Japan would have been limited to a single goal.
This team of women looked completely different than they did in the previous matches of the World Cup. They assembled one of the most dramatic World Cup finals ever. It all played out in the first 16 minutes with four goals scored by Team USA. Think about it, four goals in 16 minutes is not something that occurs very often. Scoring four goals and the opposing team scoring nil, makes it more unbelievable. If you are a Team Japan player and your team has not scored yet, you are down by four, what sort of mental acrobatics do you have to do in order to get back in the game?
The first 16 minutes saw a new record set by Carli Lloyd. She became the first person, male or female, to score a hat trick in a World Cup final during the 90 minutes of regular play. I nearly broke my chair jumping up to celebrate Lloyd’s midfield strike for a goal just two minutes after Lauren Holiday scored goal number three for Team USA. Yes, it was chair thrashing amazing.Tobin Heath closed out the scoring for the US with a goal in the 54th minute with the 5th and final goal for Team USA. We may never see such a dramatic record breaking World Cup game again.
In Montgomery County we are fortunate to have World Cup players who are members of the Washington Spirit. The Washington Spirit play their home games at the Maryland Soccerplex in Boyds. Starting in another week most World Cup team players will return to their local club teams for the remainder of the season. The season ends in September.
The Washington Spirit will see the return of Ali Krieger and Ashlyn Harris. Ali is a local girl to the DMV area, graduating from Forest Park High School. The road to the World Cup took her to Penn State, to German league play and back to the USA for the restart of women’s professional league play. Ali has grown into a World Class athlete. For the 2015 season, she is allocated to the Washington Spirit giving us all the chance to see her play in person at Washington Spirit Home games.
Jill Ellis, the head coach of the USWNT, has local roots too.She moved to the USA with her British parents in 1981. Her father coached soccer at the Annandale Boys Club. Jill was on the leading edge of women’s organized soccer in the USA during her career.She came up through the Braddock Road Blue Belles to join William and Mary college as a player for her undergrad years.
The first coaching job for Jill was at the University of Illinois. It was the inaugural year for a women’s soccer program at the University of Illinois. From UI to UCLA two years later. After UCLA she went on to a full-time gig as USSF’s development director for women’s programs. In April of 2014, Jill was named as the interim coach for the US Women’s National Team. This was not the first time she was named interim coach for the team. In May, she was elevated past the interim assignment and made the full-time coach.
She had many doubters about her ability to coach the national team. Those doubters should be rethinking their opinions today. She has proven she can coach the team to a world-class championship.
If you include Washington Spirit players who are local for April through March, you will notice more World Cup players in the area.??
Ashlyn Harris, the starting goalkeeper for the Washington Spirit. She is every bit as athletic and goal crushing to opposing teams as Hope Solo. Diana Matheson, a Princeton graduate and Washington Spirit midfielder who plays on Canada’s National team. She is a pint sized jet field package speed who can out run and out maneuver most any other player.
If all goes as planned with visas, Ngozi Okobi from Nigeria’s National Team will be joining the Washington Spirit in July. Two additional international players have been announced by Spirit Coach Mark Parsons for this season.They are Haley Raso of the Australian National Team and Josephine Chukwunonye, a teammate of Okobi’s from the Nigerian National Team.
The Washington Spirit has several home games left in this season:
July 18th against the Seattle Reign – Reserved Seating Sold Out. General Admission is still available. This game may see Hope Solo and Megan Rapinoe playing along.
July 25th against Chicago Red Stars
August 1st against the Houston Dash
August 12th against the Western New York Flash
September 5th against the Seattle Reign