“It’s impossible.” “It will never happen.” “Quit dreaming and get real.”
People talk like that all the time. In sports. In school. In regular life. Maybe people talk like that to you sometimes.
They aren’t trying to be mean. They are just trying to be realistic. After all, miracles don’t happen very often. Benchwarmers don’t suddenly become superstars. Poor students don’t become A students overnight. Kids don’t all of a sudden pick up their rooms, wash the dishes and walk the dog without being asked.
So every once in a while, it’s great when a player or a sports team reminds us that something we never thought could happen, can happen.
On Sunday, the United States women’s World Cup soccer team was done. Finished. No hope. The United States was trailing Brazil, 2-1, in overtime in its quarterfinal match. Because of an earlier penalty, the United States was one person short: Brazil had 11 players on the pitch and the United States had only 10. Time was running out. The referee was checking her watch.
But the U.S. team kept playing, kept hustling, kept trying. Because although miracles and great comebacks do not happen often, they never happen to players and teams who give up.
Then it happened. Midfielder Megan Rapinoe sent a long, crossing pass soaring toward the Brazilian goal. It was a one-in-a-million chance.
Abby Wambach, the American forward who had hustled the whole game in the heat and humidity, jumped one more time. Her head struck the ball just right. The ball sailed past the leaping Brazilian goalkeeper and into the upper right corner of the net — that place where hope lives.
The net flew back. Goal! The score was tied, 2-2, and the game would be decided by penalty kicks.
On the third penalty kick, the American goalkeeper, Hope Solo (isn’t that the perfect name for the U.S. keeper?), guessed right. She leapt to her right, stretched out as far as she could and knocked the Brazilian shot away.
The United States won! On Wednesday, the United States beat France, 3-1, in another thrilling game, with Abby Wambach scoring a big goal. This Sunday, the United States will play Japan for the World Cup.
You’d better watch the game. Who knows: You might see another miracle. It’s not impossible. It might happen. Really.
Fred Bowen is the author of 16 sports books for kids, including “Soccer Team Upset,” which is not about the U.S. women’s soccer team!