The Beautiful Game

Not much samba in the Brazil v. USA game today, the result nearly dictated by an incredibly bad showing by the officials. USA's keeper Hope Solo saved a penalty kick! in the 66th minute after a dodgy but not exactly horrid ejection of USA player Rachel Buehler for keeping Marta from a not-so-sure scoring chance in the penalty box.

But Solo saved the PK!

And then, hello, what's this? They say she moved off her line before the kick was taken? Retake the kick?! Impossible. As the commentator watches the replay, "Does she move off the line? No, no, no." But Brazil gets a re-do, and Marta takes the second chance with no mistake.

This is the game's worst nightmare: a contest between two teams decided by an arbitrary—and demonstrably wrong—decision by an official, changing the outcome of the game.

Without that goal gift to Brazil, the USA side survived the test shorthanded for more than 20 minutes at the end of the 2nd half, and the World Cup quarterfinal would have ended after regulation, 1-0, USA.

When Marta did score the game's first legitimate offensive goal (the USA's goal in the 2nd minute of the game rom a Brazil defender's own goal) in the first overtime period, the beauty of the play was marred by yet another bad call in Brazil's favor: the pass before the cross was offside, and the attack should have been stopped by the assistant referee.

But they played on, Brazil's game just got uglier, wasting time, feigning injury (and 11 on 10!), time running out, three minutes added on to cover for all of Brazil's delay and then a miracle cross by Megan Rapinoe, and Abby Wambach heads in the equalizer with less than 2 minutes left!

Ok, that was worth waiting for.

(Just to round out the drama: it's the 12th anniversary of the USA v. China World Cup final, won by the USA on penalty kicks.)

Boxx got two tries at the USA's first PK; the keeper was way off her line in stopping the first one, and that was actually an easy (and correct) decision by the referee to have it retaken. She made her 2nd try; the other 4 USA players made theirs cleanly on the first tries.

And Hope Solo stopped another PK! For the win.

Awesome game.

Tom von Alten