A Lesson in Game Management

And Why the USA Didn’t Go for the Win Against Colombia

MorganBy Tim Nash

So the USA is tied with Colombia in extra time of the second half. It’s the last game of Olympic group play. A tie is enough to win the group and move on to the quarterfinals.

The game had been frustrating. The U.S. seemed to have done enough to win, but two reckless fouls led to two very well hit free kicks by Colombia’s Catalina Usme. The first one inexplicably made it through Hope Solo’s legs to give Colombia a 1-0 lead in the first half. The second, a left-footed missile from the right flank sailed over Solo’s punch and under crossbar to tie the game 2-2.

Then, with 2:07 elapsed from the three minutes of injury time given by the referee, the U.S. got a corner kick. Here it is. The chance to win the game and bring some of that drama we’ve all come to expect from the USA in the Olympic games. One last-gasp ball into the box, where surely another last-second Olympic miracle awaits. Continue reading

Solo Didn’t See the Bigger Picture

By Tim Nash

It’s never been about just soccer.

SoloThat’s part of what has made Hope Solo’s comments about Sweden’s tactical approach to their quarterfinal win over the U.S., so disappointing. She forgot or maybe never realized that as a member of the U.S. women’s national team you are much, much more than just a soccer player.

Players on the U.S. have always been a very visible, very public advertisement for girls and women being able to play their hearts out, about young girls being able to have role models who look like them and love the same thing. And they have tackled the chore of convincing people that it’s perfectly fine for girls and women to compete – hard – for a win or a loose ball or a dream. And it’s been about being good people.

All of those qualities are now taken somewhat for granted. To think that it’s unacceptable for girls to play hard, or that female role models are in short supply is rather silly today, isn’t it? That’s in large part due to the work national team players have done over the past 30 years to erase those seemingly ancient realities. Continue reading

Former Olympians Like What They See

 

Mia BCBS 2

By Tim Nash

When the USA was playing France in a tense Olympic first-round match Saturday, Mia Hamm, Kristine Lilly and Tisha Venturini were on a field in Winston-Salem, N.C., with 130 little girls giving a clinic.

“We actually made it through the camp without anyone telling us what happened in the game,” says Hamm. “We threatened the parents with severe punishment if anyone told us what was going on.”

So at 9:00 pm that night, Hamm, Lilly and Venturini Hoch, who have over 300 goals in nearly 800 games for the U.S. women’s national team between them, were free to gasp, cheer, and bite their nails like the rest of us. Continue reading

The Elements of Style

By Tim Nash

dt.common.streams.StreamServerThere are three distinct moments in a soccer game. They are simple and obvious, and they are repeated over and over and over.

First there are the moments when your team has the ball. Second, there are the times when your opponent has the ball. Then there are periods when both teams are fighting for the ball.

Jill Ellis and her staff have taken those parts of the game and tried to perfect the way the U.S. women’s national team plays during each. It is, of course, a work in progress, and always will be.

Heading into the 2016 Olympics, Ellis took the time to explain the USA’s style of play and how it has evolved.

Continue reading

Buy a Copy of “It’s Not the Glory”

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The 56th Minute, LLC is excited to announce the publication of a new book on the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team by long-time soccer writer Tim Nash. It’s Not the Glory, the Remarkable First Thirty Years of U.S. Women’s Soccer, tells the extraordinary tale of what has become one of the most intriguing and socially relevant sports teams in history.

A skilled storyteller, Nash uses anecdotes from his observations and interviews with nearly 50 players and coaches from every generation to narrate the story from the very beginning in the mid 1980’s, through the 2015 World Cup championship.

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It’s Not the Glory explains the team’s culture of excellence through the words of those who established it and nurtured it over the years. From Heinrichs and Akers on to Overbeck, Hamm, Foudy and Lilly, through Rampone, Wambach, Morgan and Lloyd, and everyone in between, It’s Not the Glory, details the character and characters that helped the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team have an enormous impact on society while rising to the very top of the women’s soccer world. Continue reading