The slogan for the U.S. soccer team (One Nation, One Team) couldn’t be any more appropriate today. Hours after the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling, the women’s national team played its quarterfinal game against China. Maybe it was just me, but the national anthem before the game seemed just a bit louder and more passionate. And the Americans’ effort on the pitch matched the anthem.
The first half was utter dominance by the U.S.; even though the offense still isn’t firing on all cylinders, the effort and hustle was evident on every play. Amy Rodriguez and Kelley O’Hara were excellent as they took over for the suspended Megan Rapinoe and Lauren Holiday. The offensive attack was more dynamic and it seemed like every time China had the ball, American players were swarming all over them.
My favorite player of the tournament has been Julie Johnston, who fed a perfect ball to Carli Lloyd for the winning header. Johnston has owned her area of the field, playing more physically and precisely against whomever lines up against her. It’s part of the reason why the Americans haven’t allowed a goal in what seems like months.
It still feels like the U.S. offense should be scoring more goals, but with the defense and effort they gave tonight, it’s shaping up to be a classic against Germany. As Coach Jimmy V said decades ago about the college basketball tourney: “Survive and advance.”