“We didn’t accomplish what we set out to,’’ observed Kelly Smith. “We’ve broken these records, inspired a lot of people but we didn’t get a medal. We fell short and all the players are hurting.”
In the ultimate reality show that is sport, the ending is not always assured. In fact, it’s very rarely assured. And until they start the Robotic Olympics (I expect about 2048 or so), the games are going to be played by humans, who have bodies that tend to break down. Kelly Smith’s body has been telling her for a while that the end of her playing career is near. She was able to get through three group stage games, leading Great Britain to an undefeated record, but just couldn’t go today, and the team wilted without her (and a lot of help from a resurgent Canada).
What was supposed to happen is that the country was supposed to continue to rally around Great Britain into the semifinals with the heavily favored United States. There was to be record crowds, record television audiences, and a chance to grow the women’s game in a place where it seemed to have a great place to do so. Instead, in front of a non-sell out in Coventry (although it was close), everything came to a screeching half.
Someone tell the writers of this show they’re terrible.
1) Come to life at the right time, why don’t you?
With all due apologies to Portia Modise of South Africa, Jonelle Filigno might end up having the goal of the tournament with her outrageous 12th minutes strike off a corner kick. If you don’t think it was that big a deal, watch it again from the angle behind Filigno, she’s running away from goal, turns and crushes it into the upper 90, unstoppable. You can pick on marking, etc., but sometimes you just have to give credit where credit is due. That’s the way it’s gone for Canada in the last couple of games. I’ll have much more on them in the semifinal preview, but they were never really in trouble here, shockingly.
2) And Great Britain had no idea what to do
To quote Herb Brooks from Miracle when the U.S. finally takes the lead over the Soviet Union in the decisive game, “He doesn’t know what to do,” referring to the Soviet coach.
I appreciate everything Hope Powell has done for women’s soccer in Britain, but she really didn’t look like she knew what to do. Obviously, she was hamstrung by the Kelly Smith injury, but unless Ellen White was injured, you can’t take her off and put Fara Williams in for her there. It pushed Kim Little up top, but Britain (although they probably should have had a penalty) never could get anything going in the attack. It was sad to watch. Not all the blame should fall on Powell, but it was such a tough end to the Great Britain run. Will they be back for the 2016 Olympics? We’ll see.
3) If you’re going to go out, at least do it with class
And no one can take that away from Great Britain, they most certainly showed plenty of class today. Consider that Karen Carney quote to the London Telegraph talking about the missed penalty call and bowing out early:
“It was a penalty but we’ve been beaten by a better team,’’ said Carney. “Yes, the referee wasn’t very good but you can’t focus on that. The referee turns up, you give them respect and let them get on with it.
“We’ve got a lot of fans now and I want to be a role model. We get a lot of positive feedback saying ‘we don’t dive, we don’t swear as much as the men’, so if that’s something they like, we have to continue to do that and be respectful. Even if we had harassed the referee, she wouldn’t have given it, so why bother?
“My mother taught me from 12 years old to show referees respect. I have a five-year-old niece Keira so I’d hate to be a bad role model for her.
“I took her out on the pitch afterwards to enjoy all the Olympic experience. It’s about a legacy, and I look at her and it’s about her and all the other girls like her.”
Great Britain could have used Julie Fleeting Friday
Just saying. I mean, Andy Murray is Scottish, right?
Commercials and open mics
Throughout the first half, Glenn Davis thought he was closing his mic, but it was open. Luckily for him, he didn’t say anything really silly, although he did comment on how many empty seats there were in Coventry. After the first Canadian goal, he said, “Nice job not going to commercial.” Whomever made that call? Thank you.