The Dallas Mavericks took down the nets against the Miami Heat, baseball is trudging onward towards the All Star break, and the NFL is dormant and buried in closed-door debates that will decide the outcome of the forthcoming season.
Thank goodness our focus can once again shift to the pitch. Today marks the Americans’ first appearance in the sixth Women’s World Cup kicking off in Germany. The USA’s quest for the cup begins at Rudolf-Harbig-Stadium in Dresden, Germany where the women take on mysterious North Korea for the fourth tournament in a row.
Update: After two second half goals, USA holds off North Korea in Dresden.
Rachel Buehler knocked in America’s second goal to give the team a 2-0 advantage in the 76th minute after a hard fought, statistically even first half.
Football-crazy Germany returns as a World Cup host city after a successful 2006 tournament. As an added bonus, Germany — ranked second in the world, is the favorite to hoist the cup after winning the previous two tournaments. In 2007, the defensive-minded, disciplined German squad steamrolled through the field en route to a championship where they didn’t yield a single goal.
The German women’s team opening match set national records, passing the German men’s opener against Serbia last year by nearly ten percent Sunday, with an average audience of 15.4 million — peaking at 18 million towards the waning moments.
By contrast, that same game in the United States averaged an 0.7 overnight rating on ESPN who has invested a lot of resources into covering this event. Coverage will extend across their networks — ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPN3 streaming. Outside the Lines host and affable ESPN personality Bob Ley will host from a mobile studio traveling from Frankfurt to Berlin featuring a supporting cast of past women soccer stars — Brandi Chastain, Julie Foudy and Mia Hamm.
In the wake of a successful men’s World Cup campaign this past summer from the likes of Landon Donovan, the American television and web audience should be favorable, but likely requires dramatic theatrics and a journey deep into the tournament to resuscitate a passion in women’s soccer not seen in awhile.
To recall a time when women’s soccer was one of the most popular sports in America, you would have to go back to the summer of 1999.
And of course, who can forget one of the most iconic photographs of sports in the 1990s — Brandi Chastain’s bra-exposing celebration after knocking in a penalty kick to defeat China.