The USA is two wins away from bringing home the 2011 Women's World Cup, but still has plenty of work to do after Sunday's thrilling win. On Wednesday, the American side will be back on the pitch in Germany, hoping to avoid a letdown from Sunday's big quarterfinal win. While their quarterfinal win over Brazil was a moment that stands on its own, anything less than an encore involving a World Cup Win would be a disappointment, a fact not lost on the Women's National Team.
The challenge for the USA is regrouping with a short turnaround between Sunday's penalty shootout win and Wednesday semifinal match with France. Given the emotional high everyone, including the team itself, was riding after the win, there is a fear that the fire won't be there. But listening to head coach Pia Sundhage and the rest of the team in the run-up to Wednesday's game, it's clear they're focused on a Women's World Cup title.
Hope Solo will be back in net once again, looking to get back on track after allowing two goals in each of her last two matches. In the final group stage match, Solo conceded two goals, off a penalty kick and deflected free kick, as the USA fell to Sweden, setting up Sunday's match with Brazil. In the quarterfinals, Solo parried away a penalty kick try in the second half, only to see the Brazilian side given another chance after a mysterious infraction. An extra time goal by Brazilian phenom Marta put the Americans in the hole, setting up the frenzied, and thrilling, finish.
Solo has a vocal confidence about her ahead of Wednesday match. In a short media tour on Monday, Solo said she never doubted her team in the quarterfinals, and feels it's their destiny to win the Women's World Cup. She ended the interview by telling Dave "Softy" Mahler that she'd be "bringing back the cup." Call it a guarantee, call it confidence, call it cockiness, but whatever it is, Solo has the talent to back it up.
The USA and France hit the field at 9 a.m. PDT on Wednesday in the quarterfinal round of the Women's World Cup. If Sunday taught us anything, the game promises to be a must-watch event. You can find the game on ESPN and ESPN3, with coverage set to begin at 8:30 a.m. PDT.