Stone's Slant on U.S.-Canada
From the land of starlets, groupies, attitude, plastic surgery, screenplays, and wanna-be actors, it's only appropriate that I conclude my Women's World Cup columns with a Hollywood script courtesy of Canada and the U.S.
First off, every successful flick has to deliver the unexpected. Today's first plot twist was the fact that the States were playing now instead of Sunday's title game. Whoa, who saw that one coming before the tournament?
Secondly, you have to have a villain. Every movie from "Benji" to "Old School" has one, so don't argue with me on the formula. Today's antagonist was played brilliantly by Canada's Charmaine Hooper. What range! (Hollywood talk) The crowd hated her ... the Americans got banged by her ... and she was a general pest all day long. (saying that, I'd take her on my team any day) I'm still amazed she didn't receive her first card until the 76th minute. Her play bordered on cheap, but her role was to intimidate, destroy, and be feared - give an Emmy to her.
Then there was the mandatory "Feel Good Moment." Kristine Lilly's swerving blast in the 22nd minute had the audience standing on its feet. That reminded me of a great drive on the golf course where you know you got all sweet spot, and the outside to in ball movement gets your playing partner to give you a nice, "whoa, good hit."
Then another twist ... Canada equalized ... hey this Disney produced movie may actually make me cry ... i.e. Bambi. Nobody wants to cry at a warm and fuzzy movie. That cued the "chase scene". Both sides buzzing up and down the field ... great offensive action. Even led to a nose-to-nose staredown between Lilly and a Canadian defender ... that's good entertainment folks!
Don't forget about a key co-star being killed off. In this case it was co-stars ... the entire Canadian forward line. They didn't show the actual kill-off scene, but from the second half on they had no speaking parts whatsoever.
Finally, you need to conclude with the proverbial "goose bump moment". Cue the star please. (Will someone please knock on Mia Hamm's trailer and let her know we need her now??!!) It was Mia who started the States game-winning goal with a quickly taken free kick chip. And it was more than just that from her today. Her constant forays down the flank should have led to at least three first-half goals.
Once the ending was clear, and the credits began to roll, the star made a final appearance. Who was the U.S. player leading the team to thank the crowd? Who was soaking in the moment, and truly absorbing her World Cup exit? Who gave me goose bumps as I left the theater? Mia. As always she was well worth the price of admission.
-- Rob Stone is covering the Women's World Cup for ESPN.