Hello everyone and welcome to today’s “The Stack” with me, Nathan Stacken. We’re back from vacation and ready to go. There is lots to talk about so let’s get right to it and see what made the stack:
1. Japan wins women’s world cup on penalty kicks.
In and ending that seems unsatisfying to many (more on that in a bit) Japan beat the USA 2-2 (3-1 in penalty kicks) to win the 2011 women’s world cup for the first time in their country’s history. The most impressive thing about Japan’s win is that they had to come from behind twice to tie the match and force the match to penalty kicks where the USA had two of their shots saved and one went high. Abby Wambach made her penalty kick, but Saki Kumagai got one by Hope Solo and Japan celebrated their victory and championship. It perhaps should never have gotten to this point. Twice the USA scored to take the lead, first in the 69th minute when Alex Morgan scored to give the USA a 1-0 lead, and then in extra time in the 104th minute when Wambach headed it past the goalie to give the USA a 2-1 lead. Both times though, Japan responded. Homare Sawa, who won the Golden Boot Award for most goals in a world cup with five, tied the game in the 117th minute to stun the stadium and everyone at home watching on TV. It seemed like destiny was on Japan’s side and perhaps it should have been given terrible earthquake and tsunami that the country suffered back on March 11 that left over 23 thousand dead. The USA thought that destiny was perhaps on their side given what they had to go through just to reach the world cup and then what they had to endure in the world cup in terms of their match with Brazil and everything. They thought they were going to win.
2. Did the USA lose this game?
The bigger question is whether or not the USA choked. It would be easy to say they did, giving up two late goals that tied the game. Sawa’s goal in the 117th minute was the latest goal in women’s world cup history. The defenders did not clear the ball like the should have which led to the first goal and contributed to the second goal. The USA dominated much of the first half, but could not break through. They should have won the match, but you have to play all 90 or in this case 120 minutes and the USA did not play their best when they needed to. Is this ia successful world cup for the women? All in all, yes. Sure they would have loved to win the world cup. Being the number one team in the world, perhaps they should have won and anything but is a disappointment. But the way the captivated the nation and showed what kind of a sport women’s soccer is, I think they were winners in this world cup. They had the Twitter universe a buzz, especially yesterday when there were more tweets sent out per second at 7,196 during the world cup final yesterday than at any other time since Twitter began. Can the USA use this as motivation for the 2015 women’s world cup in Canada? I think so. They’ll be just as good in 2015 and will look to win it.
3. Are penalty kicks a bad way to end a championship match?
This has been the debate amongst a lot of people after the USA lost yesterday, that a championship game should not be decided on penalty kicks. It is unsatisfying. Yet, when the USA won in 1999 against China on penalty kicks, where was the uproar then? Is it just because it happened to the USA? Perhaps. There is though, this bad taste in our mouths seeing a championship game end on penalty kicks. It’s bad. How is that an ending? In soccer, I understand it to a degree. There are so many matches that go scoreless for so long that it could take forever to get a goal, and there would be so many players out of gas, that the overall quality of the game would suffer. In the NHL, regular season games go to a shootout after a five minute overtime, but in the playoffs, it is overtime until someone scores and it is sudden death. No score and we’ll play more like extra time in soccer. Since both sports are played with nets and goalies perhaps soccer should adopt a style similar to the NHL where in the matches that eliminate a team, after the 90 minutes are up, it is sudden death.
I have no problem with the NFL’s overtime rules. No issues with MLB or the NBA. I hate college football’s overtime rules with a passion, but in the end, soccer’s overtime to me is the worst in sports. But until there is a legit solution that makes sense and is best for the sport, we’re just going to have to live with it.
4. Darren Clarke wins the British Open.
With the weather nasty the last two days of the Open Championship, Northern Ireland’s Darren Clarke proved he was the best in those conditions winning the 140th Open Champioinship with a score of five under (-5). He is the third player from Northern Ireland to win a major out of the last six majors joining Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell. At 42, it is Clarke’s first major championship. The championship did lack some drama on the final day after Phil Mickelson fell apart on the back nine, only after getting right back into contention with a front nine score of 30 (-5). Also with McIlroy not in the mix and no Tiger Woods, is it really likely that people were enamored by a name such as Darren Clarke? Probably not, but that doesn’t diminish what Clarke did. Royal St. George’s is a tough course to play and with the weather conditions, it makes it that much tougher and Clarke made it through. According to ESPN’s Andy North, he said that he thought Clarke had the best ball-striking round he could remember in the third round and was almost as good in the fourth round. And now, we have twelve different major championship winners in the last twelve major championships. Golf is in a odd spot and while it is nice to see many different players winning, it would be nice and perhaps best for golf for someone to come out and just dominate for a couple of years. I still think McIlroy is the guy to do this. Either way, congrats to Darren Clarke for winning the Ope Championship. It was fun to watch the tournament.