By now you’ve surely seen it.
Abby Wambach’s brilliant header on Megan Rapinoe’s perfectly-placed cross that knotted Sunday’s wild quarterfinal with Brazil sent a shockwave through television audiences around the country.
The drama, the suspense and the sensation of snatching victory from the jaws of defeat make this play well worth a second look. Or a third. Or fourth...
Chat live with Sporting News soccer writer Brian Straus about USA-Brazil and the upcoming semifinals at 11:30 a.m. here.
And for Wambach to be on the end of the play only seemed fitting. The most accomplished player on the United States roster never to have won a World Cup has battled through nagging injuries all tournament but came through at the absolute last possible moment, lifting her team on a night when little seemed to go its way and extending her quest for the trophy.
The comparisons to Landon Donovan’s late winner against Algeria in last summer’s World Cup in South Africa are undeniable, but the build up to the tying goal — and the added drama of a penalty shootout — made Wambach’s tally even more remarkable.
The United States were playing with 10 for half of the second half and all of extra time after Rachel Buehler was sent off for dragging down five-time FIFA player of the year Marta in the box. Star goalie Hope Solo stopped Christiane’s game-tying penalty shot only to watch her second attempt puncture the back of the net after an official whistled the Americans for entering the 18-yard box too soon. Then Marta gave Brazil the lead in extra time with a deft goal that appeared to start with an offside play, seemingly dashing all hope for an exhausted U.S. side.
Wambach’s post-game comments summed up the feelings of many who watched the game:
“I’m at a loss and I literally cannot believe what just happened. But we’ve got two games left.
“The history of this team has always been we never give up.”
After Solo saved Daiane’s penalty kick in the shootout, local product Ali Krieger — a Forest Park High School graduate and the 2003 All-Met player of the year — sealed the victory with a coolly taken penalty to send the Americans through.
The only question that remains — aside from “Can the U.S. win its first World Cup since 1999?” — is who’s going to make “The World’s Reaction to Abby Wambach’s Game Winning Goal” video?
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