Day 188: USA Fan Rally


“We won the World Cup, baby!” – Abby Wambach


That’s Abby Wambach at L.A. Live, the first stop of their victory tour across America. It’s been a few years since I’ve been down to the Staples Center for a championship celebration, so it was nice to be amongst the red, white, and blue-clad crowd paying tribute to the 2015 World Cup Champions.

My wife and I made the hour-plus journey from the Inland Empire to show our support for the team. There were fans from all over and we ran into a few friendly faces on this mild July morning. Making our way to the celebration, I thought about all of the young girls in attendance with their parents, friends, and siblings. Was one of the next national team players here? The sentimental side of me hoped so.

At precisely 11am (just like the game itself, soccer players are prompt), the team made its way to the stage. They thanked us fans, their teammates, coaches, and staff, before dancing away into the afternoon to Queen’s “We Are The Champions.”

It was the perfect celebration for the perfect team.


Day 187: The Audience Is Watching

American Outlaws

American Outlaws

I liked Dave Zirin’s piece this morning, “Why I’m Done Defending Women’s Sports,” especially when he wrote, “Frankly, it’s insulting to the athletes involved to even conceive of it as if they need defending. It’s time to go on offense. It’s time to write more about women’s sports and be part of the grassroots struggle to do what the sports networks and sports-radio talking potatoes won’t do, and that’s tell the stories of what is happening in women’s sports.”

The numbers back him up. The final last night drew over 22 million U.S. viewers, which shattered the record for most-watched soccer game (men or women) and put it on the same level as last year’s World Series Game 7 and this year’s NBA Finals Game 6.

While the women’s game worldwide is not as popular as the men’s version yet, the packed bars, private parties, and growing legions of American Outlaws are proof that the audience is there.

Day 186: U.S. 5, Japan 2



The first 16 minutes of today’s World Cup final was the reason why soccer is called The Beautiful Game: four goals for the Americans, a hat trick for Carli Lloyd (topped off with an incredible strike from midfield), and the team’s third World Cup title.

It was stunning, unbelievable, and awesome.

Not sure what else I can say about watching my country win the most prestigious futbol tournament in the world. I’ll just end with my favorite hashtag during international play: #OneNationOneTeam

Day 183: Fireworks



I miss living in a city where fireworks are legal. I understand why they’re illegal in most places nowadays; people can be idiots, especially when fireworks and alcohol are involved.

I remember the days of going to the local fireworks stand, peering through the mesh cage and picking out individual fireworks to be bagged up for the Fourth of July. I loved all of the bright colors on the packaging; those fireworks stands sure knew how to market their product to us kids.

The Piccolo Petes and the Ground Bloom Flowers were my favorites; the volume of the Petes and the action of the Flowers couldn’t be matched by any other firework. The pinwheel-like fireworks were always a treat as well, as long as the adults could find something to nail them on. We kids weren’t interested in the setup. Just give us the show.

If we were lucky and our parents had enough money, we’d buy one of the pre-packaged boxes of fireworks that offered more bang for your buck. There would always be the great big cones that launched multi-colored waves of sparks high into the July evening. There would also be a few boxes of the “snakes,” those growing ashes of mess that me and my brothers called duds. We spelled it B-O-R-I-N-G.

Once in a while someone would score some real fireworks, the illegal ones from Chinatown: firecrackers and bottle rockets. These didn’t have the flair of the legal fireworks, but they had that element of danger to them, whether it was a loud bang or a towering shot toward the moon.

I miss fireworks in the backyard, but during Independence Day my family is all about barbecuing, lounging at the pool, and watching the city-sponsored fireworks from the comfort of the backyard. No setup, just a show.

Day 181: U.S. 2, Germany 0

Carli Lloyd

Carli Lloyd

In a game they were not expected to win, the U.S. played their hearts out and upset the No. 1 team in the world tonight. We watched with our local chapter of the American Outlaws and although the crowd is louder for the men’s team, there was a lot of vocal support for the women’s team. Chants of U-S-A were sprinkled throughout the contest and after the U.S. took the lead, the “I Believe That We Will Win” chant rang throughout the bar.

The semifinal against Germany was billed as the greatest game in women’s soccer, featuring the top two teams in the world and ranked the highest by the Women’s Soccer Power Index. It was the precise attack of the Germans versus the impenetrable defensive wall of the Americans.

This is what I love about The Beautiful Game: the ebbs and flows, the highs and lows. I love how all of the details add up, from a player’s subtle move to the extra pass that leads to a shot on goal. I was so fired up after the first half, in which Team USA outplayed the Germans: the defense was solid again and the offense was generating enough chances that a second-half score seemed inevitable.

The good feeling quickly soured as the second half began and the Germans took their efforts to the next level. I was down in the dumps when Julie Johnston was carded, giving Germany a penalty kick. Johnston had played brilliantly throughout the tournament and for her to make such a crucial mistake seemed like a cruel gesture from the soccer gods.

Then something unbelievable happened: Celia Sasic pulled her penalty kick wide. The roar of our crowd was one of disbelief. Could the Americans take advantage of their new lease on life?

They did. A controversial foul (it looked like Alex Morgan was taken down outside of the box) led to a penalty kick that was converted by Carli Lloyd, then minutes later Lloyd set up substitute Kelley O’Hara for the insurance goal.

From depression to elation in a matter of minutes. I love this game.

Day 177: One Nation, One Team

Carli Lloyd with the winner (from

Carli Lloyd with the winner (from

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.”