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Monday, October 06, 2003
Farewell Mia et al....
Seldom do a generation of stars take a sport from relative obscurity to the national and international spotlight. You did. So this defeat doesn't matter in the long run:

"The reigning queen of women’s football, legendary icon Mia Hamm, was left on the pitch at the end of the hard-fought first semi-final, tearfully embracing her coach, no doubt aware that her goodbye to the world’s greatest stage would forever be tainted by this defeat. For her and her veteran midfield partners, Kristine Lilly and Julie Foudy, this is the end of an era and a rather depressing exclamation point to one of America’s greatest sports stories. After years of toiling and winning in relative obscurity, they brought the United States to its feet four years ago as they beat China on penalty kicks to lift their second FIFA Women’s World Cup.

The U.S. came into the last four having won 11 consecutive matches in the finals and only having lost once in 22 all-time FIFA Women’s World Cup contests. The only other defeat also came at the semi-final stage in Sweden 1995 where they crashed out to eventual champions Norway.

Perhaps one step too far in a new century, the hosts for the first time ran into a team that they could not boss as they had so many opponents at USA 2003, and they were left ruing a host of missed opportunities and a lack of creativity from midfield. The opening goal, in the 15th minute from Kerstin Garefrekes’ head, left Germany the luxury of sitting back and hitting on the counter, a strategy that the hosts, despite valiant amounts of effort, could never overcome. The German defence, inspired by Kerstin Stegemann and marshalled without flaw by dominating goalkeeper Silke Rottenberg, held down the previously dominant Abby Wambach and the rest of the vaunted American attack. "

See also a Match Report and the scoop on the next generation.
Posted at 7:33 PM by John.

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