It Seems To Me. . .
Long wait since 1999 has American women hungry for World Cup title.
By Robert Wagman
(Tuesday, May 27, 2015) -- Who can forget probably the most iconic picture in the history of women's soccer - United States defender Brandi Chastain on her knees on the sod of the sold-out Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., waving her jersey above her head after the scoring the winning penalty kick to defeat China and give the U.S. the 1999 Women's World Cup?
On June 8, the current edition of the U.S. women will kick off its latest attempt to win another World Cup, taking on Australia in the first of three Group D matches in Winnipeg, Canada. This is followed by group D matches against Sweden June 12 in Winnipeg and against Nigeria June 16 in Vancouver.
Canada plays host to the 2015 Women's World Cup.
For the past two decades, the Americans have been the dominant team in women's soccer. It has won match after match, tournament after tournament, but what seems almost shocking is that since that day -- July 10 -- in Pasadena in 1999, the U.S. women have not won another World Cup.
The U.S. has entered the last three Cups an overwhelming favorite, but each and every time has fallen agonizingly short.
The first futility in this 12-year run was found in 2003 where once again the U.S. played host, taking over for China on short notice when that nation was dealing with the SARS health crisis.
The Americans moved smoothly through the group stage with victories over Sweden, Nigeria and North Korea. The U.S. then advanced to the semifinals where it met Germany in what many consider the greatest women's match ever played. Germany scored two goals in stoppage time to defeat the U.S. 3-0 and went on to capture the Cup. The Americans had to settle for bronze medals defeating Canada 3-1 in the third-place match.
Four years later, the U.S. again easily advanced out of group play by defeating Sweden and Nigeria after an opening draw with South Korea. The Americans then defeated England 3-0 to advance to the semifinals, only to be shocked by Brazil 4-0 in the worst international defeat ever suffered by the U.S.
The Americans gained some solace with another third-place finish by downing Norway 4-1. .
After the drubbing by Brazil, it was decided the U.S. needed to become faster and it accomplished that entering the 2011 Cup in Germany. Once again, the Americans sailed through group play, triumphed in the two knockout rounds and advanced to the title match where they faced Japan.
Heartbreak! Twice in the final match, the U.S. surrendered one-goal leads, including in extra time, ending up in tiebreaking penalty kicks after the match ended 2-2. Japan goalkeeper Ayumi Kaihori made two big saves, leaving the U.S. to settled for silver medals.
After 16 nations competed in 2011, world governing body FIFA doubled the field to 32 this time around, equaling the size of the field in the men's World Cup.
One of the most contentious issues is the fact that all the matches will be contested on artificial surfaces. This could have a significant impact on the competition. Players perceive a greater risk of injury, so the matches will likely be less physical. The ball moves quicker and bounces higher on fake turf, so it's harder to control. The ball goes out of touch more often and play is choppier.
Numerous members of the U.S. team, led by striker Abby Wambach filed suit against FIFA and the Canadian Soccer Association, alleging the artificial surface created unsafe playing conditions, but withdrew the suit in January.
The U.S. once again enters a World Cup as, at least, co-favorites along with Germany which is led by Nadine Kessler, FIFA's reigning "Women's Player of the Year" France and Japan also appear to have sold teams that will contend. Can the American women overcome 16 years of frustration and once again prove they are the best in the game?