Soccerstoriesbook's Blog


A WORLD CUP STAR AT 40

The United States rolled past Colombia, 3-0, at Hoffenheim in its second Group “C” match to clinch a berth in the 2011 Women’s World Cup quarterfinals.  [July 2]

Comment:  The U.S. is bound for the final eight, despite the struggles of scoring ace Abby Wambach, 31.  So is host Germany, which has benched former FIFA World Player of the Year Birgit Prinz, 33.  So when it comes to the star of this Women’s World Cup–at least in the early going for those watching from America–we have to turn to another well-known veteran.   Someone so seasoned she’s not even playing in the tournament. 

Julie Foudy, who won multiple decorations during a 17-year, 271-match international career that ended in 2004, has been a TV commentator and analysist since the 2006 World Cup.   But during this tournament, the Stanford University grad, known for her outgoing personality as a player, has been a particular delight, teaming perfectly with play-by-play man Ian Darke.  The affable Englishman, who first worked for ESPN at the 1994 World Cup, has never needed any help from his sidekicks, some of whom he has had to carry.  But Foudy has been making his job a breeze with her pointed commentary, relaxed manner, occasional jokes and easy banter. 

There’s chemistry, and it’s helped bring out the best in Darke.   To take a page from American history, it’s as if Will Rogers, who never met a man he didn’t like, at long last found someone he really liked. 

It would be foolhardy, even in 2011, to suggest that in the future Foudy should work men’s matches for ESPN.  This is a man’s world, after all, and that world likes its progress in bite-sized pieces.  But for now, Foudy, in her present element, is the smartest, most useful, most entertaining  TV soccer commentator in the U.S.

Comment 2:  For those who suspect that women’s soccer is a bit more refreshing than the men’s game because of its lack of gamesmanship, the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup got deep into its 19th match before a penalty kick was awarded.

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