cdbarker replied to your video: Didn’t think Jeff Daniels was capable of a Howard…

But given Sorkin’s love of Paddy Chayefsky, this was inevitable, right? It’s like a mashup of SportsNight, Studio 60, and the West Wing all at the same time, no?

Right. And let’s not mince words in saying that Sorkin seems to fancy himself as straight outta Chayefsky tradition as a writer.

Sorkin doesn’t loathe TV in the sense Chayefsky appeared to, but The Social Network had a major loathing for the internet and its players bubbling underneath, and the liberties he took with the facts of the developing narrative about Facebook made for the first Sorkin work I actively disliked while admiring his writing. 

So let’s just say The Newsroom makes me both excited and wary because when Sorkin has to deal with things he loathes you feel it, and subtlety gets lost. (The fact that the McAvoy’s troubles come after his blowup spreads all over the Internet/new media seems like a starting point for this.)

the American women, at a crossroads.

bendawson replied to your post: a question about the USWNT, because this point was made to me last night.

Yes. If you’re viewed as the best in the world and you give up a lead twice,…

2yellows replied to your post: a question about the USWNT, because this point was made to me last night.

Yes. Apply it to other sports. It’s a choke, no matter how inspirational the Japan story is/was. You’re 25-0 against them in previous meetings and you’re #1. Plus you had numerous chances to put them away and didn’t. It’s a choke job, sadly.

fetch9 replied to your post: a question about the USWNT, because this point was made to me last night.

I would call it a choke job, but I think it’s important to point out that like the men’s rankings the FIFA rankings for the women are all messed up. We weren’t the #1 team in the world

brevetcaptain replied to your post: a question about the USWNT, because this point was made to me last night.

Yes. The first Japan goal was full on horrible clearance, and the PKs were straight up English-style chokes.

curiosojorge replied to your post: a question about the USWNT, because this point was made to me last night.

Choke job - after going up one in extra time the US should’ve retreated and defended with all its might, even though I hate italy’s catenaccio. You don’t let it get to even odds in penalty kicks. Of note: Missing 3 PKs would also constitute choking?

cdbarker replied to your post: a question about the USWNT, because this point was made to me last night.

Yes, but it won’t be called one because of the randomness of penalties as a means of deciding the winner. Because the end game is “unfair”, it mitigates the complaints about previous failings.

These are all good responses, and kind of tie in to the assessment I’ve decided upon now, which is that the USA has choked away its last easy shot at a third Women’s World Cup. I suspect anyone on the team and the USSF would tell you that in private, although I have nothing to back that up.

Here’s why: I don’t remember this kind of hubbub being around for 1999, 2003, or 2007. Sure, there was huffing when Hope Solo went off on then-coach Greg Ryan and the failed Briana Scurry move, but that was after the fact. These were all pre-ESPN starting to find its way through soccer telecasts (Euro 2008 was a warm-up for last year’s World Cup) and all pre-social networking boom. 

While we still live in a nation that’s developing a soccer voice and base, we had one of the dominant women’s soccer structures in the world because of Title IX’s mandates. Japan’s victory, France’s aggressive and fluid style, Germany’s dominance of the prior two Cups, and a Brazilian squad that is nearly a mirror of its men’s squad (and its struggles seem identical) are clues of the gap closing — as was Japan’s beating of Germany, Sweden, and the U.S. to win the whole thing, as physical advantages are no longer a guarantor of victory (if they ever were.)

What does that mean for the USA? It’s simple and was reflected in more than a dozen botched chances on goal by the American women on Sunday: better technique. The women’s team isn’t in the same straits as the men, having to work their way up to a footballing culture miles ahead of them. The women were progenitors. Now the world is truly catching up to them, and if Brazil and more South American countries put more money into footballing infrastructure for women  (which they will; I doubt anyone in Brasilia wants to waste Marta’s prime), watch out.

2015 will be much more difficult because various federations have seen the attention that the women’s game can earn on an international stage if handled correctly. This doesn’t say much about the viability of women’s club teams — the WPS is often referred to as a league full of talent but is having trouble staying afloat. 

This should provide another sobering reality check to Sunil Gulati and everyone else at the USSF, because it’s the exact same problem the men’s squad faces and there are no easy answers to fixing tactical disadvantages and intrinsic lack of touch.  Here are a few of the things I made note of during the tourney:

For all her scoring talent and skill, Abby Wambach is largely a head and left foot player. Megan Rapinoe is an amazing passer and deliverer of crosses when they aren’t missing wildly. Amy LePeilbet is not a left back who gets forward particularly well; the only time the USA was dangerous from the left side was when Rapinoe had a wing responsibility. Carli Lloyd and Shannon Boxx have games where they are not particularly good at ball possession, forcing Wambach and her strike partner (whether Amy Rodriguez, Lauren Cheney, or Alex Morgan) to come back and retrieve to advance rather than time runs in the last third. And it doesn’t get any easier on the back four, because its most complete player is its captain, and by all accounts that was probably Christie Rampone’s last World Cup.

(It should go without saying that all this ish I just listed above is a hell of a lot easier to write about than it is to actually do.)

In women’s soccer, the federation’s approach has worked very well for the past 20 years. Now we have to prepare and adjust. It’s a real question for soccer fans in America if their federation is anywhere near ready for the new reality on the horizon, because you can’t sit there forever and pretend CONMEBOL and UEFA nations are going to just only amuse themselves with women’s soccer come Cup time forever.

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The Third Shift A vagabond who's made his home in the Pacific Northwest.

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