In American sports over the past year, has any team provided more drama than the U.S. women’s soccer squad? The U.S. may have lost last year’s World Cup final, but the game was unforgettable. In the quarterfinals last summer, the U.S. tied Brazil on another last-second goal — one by Abby Wambach — and advanced on penalty kicks. In this year’s Olympic opener, the U.S. fell behind to France, 2-0, before rallying to a 4-2 victory.
In the Olympic semifinal in Manchester, the U.S. trailed three different times. “I’m too old for this,” says defender Christie Rampone, 37, referring to the heart-stopping tendencies of her team. Why does this team play so many close games? “I think we’re asking ourselves that question in the locker room,” says forward Lauren Cheney. “Who are we? Why are we doing that?” The team does realize, however, that playing nail-biters has boosted its popularity, even among casual soccer fans. “It’s fun for us as well,” says Megan Rapinoe, who scored two goals against Canada.