2011 Women's World Cup, Cascadia Cup Provide A Perfect Advertisement For Soccer In America

DRESDEN, GERMANY - JULY 10: Abby Wambach (L) and Hope Solo (R), goalkeeper of USA celebrate their victory after penalty shoot out during the FIFA Women's World Cup 2011 Quarter Final match between Brazil and USA at Rudolf-Harbig-Stadion on July 10, 2011 in Dresden, Germany. (Photo by Martin Rose/Getty Images)

Sunday was a great advertisement for soccer, with eight hours of enthralling coverage on ESPN, beginning with a thriller between the USA and Brazil in the Women's World Cup and capped by the Cascadia Cup.

Soccer evangelism: The practice of introducing friends, family, acquaintances, neighbors and that guy down the street you just met to the beautiful game. It's a micro process; a grassroots movement in which fans try to create fans, introducing non-observers to soccer and trying to "hook" them, creating a casual observer at the very least. Sunday was a day for soccer evangelism, but instead of a micro-level, it was done on a national scale with ESPN and its power among sports fans driving the bandwagon.

Here in the United States, a barrier still exists that prevents many from hopping aboard the soccer bandwagon. Pick your excuse, it's been hammered into the ground and used to minimize soccer while shaming its fans. Games are boring; It's for wimps; There's too much diving; Ties are unsatisfying; There's not enough scoring; It's not "American" enough.

Full 2011 Women's World Cup coverage | Follow @sbnseattle on Twitter | Like SB Nation Seattle on Facebook

If one were to create an advertisement for the game, all they'd have to do is take the eight hours of American soccer broadcast by ESPN on Sunday and hand it to new fans untouched. From the Women's World Cup quarterfinal matchup between Brazil and the USA to the Cascadia Cup matchup between the Portland Timbers and Seattle Sounders, with a heart-warming replay of the 1999 Women's World Cup Final in between, ESPN pushed soccer in front of fans, and the teams involved happily provided a quality product.

The Women's World Cup had it all: Drama, heroes, villains, controversy and a heart-stopping finish, all set to the smooth sounds of Ian Darke. By now, we all know what happened. After falling behind almost right away in extra time, the United States was on the brink of elimination. With just seconds to go, a perfect cross found Abby Wambach's head at the back and the USA equalized with the soccer equivalent of a buzzer-beater. Five pure penalty kicks by the American later, with a Hope Solo save in-between, the USA had come all the way back from the brink of elimination to advance to the semifinals of the Women's World Cup.

Solo and Wambach were the heroes, Marta was the villain and the referees provided multiple controversial moments, adding to the mounting drama of Sunday's game. A last-second goal that rivals the same feat pulled-off by Landon Donovan in last year's World Cup gave the USA its moment, captivating fans drawn in by a game that steadily built momentum. Tremendous individual performances by Solo and the five American kick takers during the penalty shootout put faces on the largely anonymous US Women's National Team, providing a human element.

This was soccer at its finest, the beautiful game played on the biggest stage in women's soccer, and soccer as a whole, in front of a raucous crowd in Germany and broadcast for the world to see. It was a chance for new viewers to fall in love and long-time fans to fall in love all over again. And instead of letting it stand on its own, ESPN had a full slate of soccer coverage planned, capped by our own Northwest rivarly: The Cascadia Cup.

There's no comparing the Women's World Cup matchup to the Cascadia Cup, in terms of drama, what was at stake or even the level of play. But if the US Women's National Team provided the moment for viewers, the Timbers and Sounders provided a glimpse of the future of professional soccer in America. The environment was superb, the play was spirited and the second half provided non-stop action and drama.

Think soccer is boring, without enough goals to satisfy short attention spans? The two Cascadia teams combined to score five second half goals. It wasn't quite a walk-off win, but Osvaldo Alonso stepped up to the spot in the 83rd minute and buried a penalty kick to put the Sounders on top, 3-2. Despite a late-push to equalize, Portland fell in the all-important Cascadia Cup match. And while the result matters here in the Northwest, the show put on by both teams and the crowd provided a lasting memory of the spirited derby for those watching at home.

Sunday was eight hours of American soccer coverage on a network that bills itself as the worldwide leader. It was a carefully planned package that served as a superb advertisement for soccer in American and as a whole. ESPN set the table, gave soccer the floor and exposed it to the nation. The participants involved -- the USA, Brazil, Portland Timbers and Seattle Sounders -- took the ball and ran with it, giving fans a show while putting their best foot forward.

Soccer is here, and gaining momentum in the United States. Though it will likely never be on the same level as professional basketball, baseball or football, it does have a future in America. Get past the stigmas associated with the game and take it in with an open mind. Re-watch the action from Sunday -- ESPN3.com has both games archived -- and breathe in the game, the sights, the sounds, the environment and the drama.

Forget the preconceived notions of soccer. Like any sport, it'll have its ups and downs, good games and bad. When a day like Sunday comes along, you won't want to be sitting on the sidelines, unable to get past stereotypes that largely remain untrue.

Trending Discussions

Log In Sign Up

Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join SB Nation Seattle

You must be a member of SB Nation Seattle to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SB Nation Seattle. You should read them.

Join SB Nation Seattle

You must be a member of SB Nation Seattle to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SB Nation Seattle. You should read them.




Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.