I stopped playing soccer 37 years ago as a glasses-wearing 10-year-old on a co-ed team after getting hit in the face more times than I can count. It’s not my favorite sport. (There’s so much running! What does offsides even mean?) But it is the favorite sport of some of my favorite people, including Jen Threlkeld, a current Dallasite and former forward for Middle Tennessee State University.
It goes without saying that she’s a fan of women’s soccer. (The last time she ran into the Women’s World Cup team, she flapped her arms and squawked like what she believes a bald eagle might sound like if it just scored 5 goals against Thailand.) So she, of course, was at the watch party yesterday at Lava Cantina in The Colony with Mia Hamm, Kristine Lilly, and Tisha Venturini-Hoch. I asked her for her top takeaways, aside from the fact that these women achieved the greatest World Cup score of all time, for men and women, with 13 goals, and that Alex Morgan’s five goals equal the total number of goals scored by the U.S. men’s national team over the last 3,721 days (according to a tweet by Timothy Burke). Here they are, in no particular order:
- The love of Dallas youth for soccer is stronger than ever. The kids at the watch party could barely sit still over the option of playing pickup in open spaces.
- The food looked weak but the ladies looked good.
- Mia Hamm made a point that every player, coach, and parent needs to hear: coaches need to treat each player differently. It may take coaches a minute to figure it out, but their intent needs to be to size up each player as fast as they can.
- What players want and need is to be valued for who they are and what they can bring. It is equally important to understand who they are not but also who they can be. Nourish innate strengths but also harness weaknesses. None of us got anywhere without the player to the right and left of us.
- We have an electric team this year that will not quit bringing the fire even after the other team’s *$#@%@*$% chicken is cooked.
- As a fan, my fears lie with our back line as they have been inconsistent and were not tested yesterday. But optimistically, we carry the speed and turned more balls into 4-touch possessions from first pass to GOLAZO.
- It was emotional for fans to see how many different players had their first-ever World Cup goal. We have a very young team this year year–not necessarily in comparison to other countries but compared to who we usually take on the roster. This was the first World Cup without Abby Wambach, and somehow coach Jill Ellis has brought us a team we can see taking gold. The youths be killin’!
Next up is USA vs. Chile on Sunday, June 16. You can watch the action at the National Soccer Hall of Fame in Frisco (a tour of the facility is included) or at Legacy Hall in Plano (there will be a 24-foot LED screen as well as three floors of restaurant stalls and an on-site brewery). The World Cup ladies won’t be there this time, but both events are free.