What a World Cup we’ve seen so far!
– Stunning upsets: Nigeria tying Sweden, Norway tying Germany (this isn’t 1995), and Colombia over France.
– Moments of brilliance: Colombian keeper Sandra Sepulveda, the sequence leading to Karla Villalobos’ equalizer for Costa Rica against South Korea, and this free kick from Norway’s Maren Mjelde that couldn’t have been placed any better if she stood at the post with a stepladder:
– Overwhelming media coverage: Fox has gone all out to demonstrate that the next several men’s and women’s World Cups will be in good hands. Former rights-holder ESPN is also ramped up, matching or even surpassing their coverage from 2011, when they sent people like me to Germany to ride the rails and cover as many games as possible.
But we’re only talking about Hope Solo, right? So says Nancy Armour at USA TODAY, and I’m sure she’s not alone.
Most of my small band of Twitter followers would disagree. I’d say you could exclude the MMA folks in that band of Twitter followers, but actually, you can’t:
But let’s go beyond the anecdotal and look at Google trends: On Friday, the top trend was Women’s World Cup at 500,000. Hope Solo was at 100,000, tied for fourth with Alex Morgan. Gotta get injury updates.
Ratings? They’re good. (TV ratings, that is. U.S. player ratings, not so much.)
So I hope this is just taken as the polite, constructive criticism I’m intending. And frankly, my old paper is doing a terrific job covering both Hope Solo AND the Cup. Which makes Armour’s piece that much stranger.
More interesting stuff from the Cup:
– Abby Wambach is blaming artificial turf for the lack of U.S. offense, particularly her own missed chances. Maybe that’s better than Stephen A. Smith joking about Germany failing to stop Norway’s free kick because the players worried about their hair.
Stories like that are why I love Twitter:
(Laura also has a blog with some pointed insights on the Cup, Solo, etc. That includes a Google Map of women’s teams in the USA.)
On a more serious note — if Wambach isn’t comfortable playing on turf, should she be playing at all in this tournament? If I’m Jill Ellis, I read that and think, “OK, thanks — I’ll go with someone else.”
– But if I’m Jill Ellis, I take Jeff Carlisle’s advice on fixing the offense. Play a dadgum winger on the wing rather than letting Tobin Heath, who can inject some skill and creativity into the attack, rot on the bench. Get Lauren Holiday out of defensive midfield before a good team runs her ragged in the semifinals.
– And finally, on Hope Solo: Look, we all know her version of events is always going to be a little skewed to make her look better. She’s pretty good at spinning — even today, some people look back at the 2007 Women’s World Cup and think she’s the victim, just as she’s claiming she’s the “victim” here in a domestic dispute that most likely has plenty of blame to spread around too all parties involved.
But simply based on the facts, Sunil Gulati simply demolished Sen. Richard Blumenthal. Even after the Outside the Lines report on Solo’s family fracas and her apparently obnoxious behavior afterwards, we still don’t know how much we can trust her accusers. Is U.S. Soccer supposed to bench her now? Why? Because a senator finds it easier to make Solo a scapegoat than to tackle the circumstances that lead families to fight?
Yeesh. When’s the next game?