They had the country buzzing for over a week, following their improbable come from behind victory over the Brazilian National Team, winning in penalty kicks, 2-2(3-5). Down one player, Rachel Buehler, for the better part of an hour, the women’s USA National Team battled the odds and marched on to a semi final match against France, off the head of team leader Abby Wambach.
On Sunday, July 17, Team USA took the field to play the women’s Japan National Team. In the first 30 minutes of play, Team USA was rolling, having attempted but missed about give or six great scoring chances. Color commentator for ESPN, and a member of the 1999 World Cup champion USA team, Julie Foudy predicted the fate of the team after an onslaught of chances in the first 30 minutes of the game.
“At some point you have got to put away those chances,” she said early in the match. Later she would say, in a 0-0 game before young USA star Alex Morgan scored the first goal of the game, “You just hope after this game we’re not talking about missed opportunities.”
Psychic or not, this would be the case, after Team USA took the lead twice in the game, once in regulation and once in extra time, only to surrender it back until their final fate was decided by the unforgiving penalty kicks – missed in near succession by Shannon Boxx, Carli Lloyd and Tobin Heath. Only the ever-spirited Wambach converted on her penalty kick.
For the team, having already won a game in penalty kicks the Women’s World Cup, there was never any doubt from commentator Foudy that this shootout would be a tougher task than the one they played in against Brazil a week earlier.
“There’s no doubt they’ve (Japan) scouted (USA’s) kick takers,” Foudy said. The trouble with already having been in a penalty kick is the opposing goalkeeper, in this case Japan’s, would know the way you’ve already gone. Foudy understood this, as probably did the team.
Unfortunate for Carli Lloyd, her attempt at a penalty kick looked the worst on national television, in front of the second largest daytime television cable audience in the history of cable television. She later receive a lot of support on her Twitter, with fans saying a missed penalty kick doesn’t define how you played in the game. Actually, Lloyd had one of her best games in the tournament, receiving a respectable grade of 6.5 from ESPN’s Jeff Carlisle.