Of Phelps and Other Phenomena (Like the USWNT)!

Michael Phelps broke Mark Spitz’ gold medal record last night -an amazing feat, indeed. I don’t know about you, but I find such milestones diminished by the hype … the marketing … the hoopla … the commentary. The events and the raw footage about the events is enough. The look on Michael Phelps’ face (or his mother’s face) speaks volumes. The more the media tries to pump up the frenzy – he more I am told how meaningful this or that is, the more drained of actual, authentic meaning these events feel to me. Unfortunate and ironic … we are satiated but undernourished. I see that Michael Phelps has broken Mark Spitz’ longstanding record and a part of me is amazed and touched. Then the commentator starts exhuberating, and the rest of me says, “Okay, what’s next?”

I woke up this morning thinking about Michael Phelps and the fact that now he will, no doubt, need to go to the White House to provide the Prez with a photo op. I don’t know what Michael Phelps’ political views are … but my thought on waking this morning was, “What a drag!” I imagine that there is no polite or generally acceptable way to turn down an invitation like that.

On the soccer front, there are lost of good match previews coming up on line. My take on Monday’s US-Japan game is that both teams are playing their best soccer of the tournament and we should see a possession-oriented game with some very pretty goals, and the US coming out on top. The US side did not have Chalupny on the pitch in their previous meeting with Japan, and I think this will make a big difference in Japan’s ability to have their way on Monday. I imagine that Pia will continue with what has been working so far – so no changes in the starting line-up. Maybe we’ll see Kai sooner this game – and if we need more energy up top, I wouldn’t mind seeing Cheney again. I’ll be surprised if Heath gets more time … she simply hasn’t made much of her opportunities and has seemed more of a liability than a plus when she’s been on the field. And I continue to wonder what’s up with Wagner and her lack of time on the pitch. If we’re losing (which I don’t expect to see) I think Pia might give Wagner some more playing time, to beef up the offense. Not sure who she’ll take out though … hmmm! I hope we are not in a situation where Pia is bringing in subs to try to catch up … let’s have a more relaxing Monday morning, okay? πŸ˜‰

In other previews of the match, we’ve got:

  • Lindsey Dolich writing about “songbird Sundhage” and her charges. She notes that, “The U.S. has shown impressive reactive growth, quickly rallying to rebuild after suffering massive structural (and emotional) damage.” This is in direct reference to the loss of Abby Wambach (around whom the USWNT offense had been constructed for the past 5+ years) just a month ago. I think it also applies to the whole Women’s World Cup-Greg Ryan-Hope Solo episode, too. As a unit, this USWNT is not just regrouping – it is recreating itself before our eyes. I give them a lot of credit for their gutsy play in the highest of high pressure situations!
  • Andrea Canales likes Brazil and the US on Monday, and offers her take on the semi-final match-ups. She emphasizes the need for excellent, organized defense on the part of the USWNT. This would be a great time to see the center of the US midfield step up and get in sync – something that has been lacking thus far in the tournament (IMHO).

In other soccer-related features from here and there, we have a FIFA.com profile of Natasha Kai, a US Soccer piece on Heather Mitts, a recap about the USWNT on Ole Ole, and a recap/preview from du Nord.

Finally, the USWNT has announced a three-game post-Olympics tour. The matches will all be against Ireland. I seem to recall at least one previous post-tournament tour involving Ireland. All I can say is … WHAT – no Boston game???

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