marta: cry at the beginning to smile at the end

Marta is the greatest women's soccer player of all time. If you are only a casual fan, you might think it makes sense that a Brazilian was the best women's soccer player ... we know that Brazil loves their soccer. But, as in most countries, women's soccer is treated as a second-class citizen in world football. It is worse in Brazil than in most countries. This article summarizes the situation: "Brazilian women’s soccer shouldn’t also have to fight misogyny".

Marta is the greatest, but the Brazilian team has yet to reach the top, finishing second in the 2007 World Cup and in the 2004 and 2008 Olympics. The roadblocks are many.

Today, Brazil lost to host France, 2-1, in extra time. Afterwards, Marta delivered this message to the next generation of Brazilian women (in Portuguese with Spanish subtitles, but you'll get chills even if you don't know those languages):

A crappy translation of part of the above:

"People have to cry at the beginning, to smile at the end. You need to want more, to train more. To be ready to play ninety minutes, and thirty minutes more than the game lasts. This is what I tell the girls, you're not going to have Formiga forever, you're not going to have Marta forever, you're not going to have Cristiane. And women's soccer depends on you. To survive, think about it and value it more. Cry at the beginning to smile at the end."


scotland-argentina

The result here was affected by interpretations of the rule regarding goalkeepers on penalty kicks. Well, that's not exactly true. Goalies are coming off their line, but thanks to VAR ("Video assistant referee"), even the most minute infractions can be spotted, resulting in a retake of the penalty kick, if the first one missed. Unfortunately, that's what a lot of people are going to talk about, when they aren't calling Scotland a bunch of chokers. Despite the above, though, I prefer to note that Argentina pulled off one of the great comebacks in WWC history.

Due to the silly tournament structure (which comes from having 24 participants, and a need to reduce that to 16 teams for the next round), Argentina now has a small chance of advancing to the next round, even though until 74 minutes had passed in this third match, Argentina had yet to score a goal. But again, picky picky picky. Their comeback today was thrilling, except for Scotland, who are now eliminated.


marta

Marta is arguably the greatest women's soccer player of all time. (I'm trying to be fair ... I think she IS the GOAT.) Today, she scored the only goal in Brazil's 1-0 win over Italy that ensured she'll play at least one more game for Brazil.

She has scored more amazing goals ... this was just a penalty. But not just any penalty. It was her 17th World Cup goal, which puts her alone at the top: no one, man or woman, has scored more World Cup goals than Marta.

On Twitter, the #1 topic was about Marta, but it wasn't the penalty. It was her lipstick, which practically broke Twitter. Some were surprised she wore lipstick. Others wanted to know the brand because, as one person tweeted, "I just think it's unfair that Marta's lipstick is flawless 70 minutes into a World Cup game and I can't ever get mine to stay nice for more than 30 minutes on a normal day". The Miami Herald was on it: "Brazil’s Marta and her lipstick get Twitter love after record-setting World Cup goal".

Eventually, the truth was revealed ... Marta was wearing Power Stay by Avon Brazil. Apparently, she has an endorsement deal or something.

I'll use any excuse to post my favorite Marta goal, one of those 17 World Cup goals:


still had it

On May 25, 1935, Babe Ruth was playing for the first time in the National League. He had turned 40 years old, and the New York Yankees let him go to the Boston Braves. The Babe played regularly for Boston, but it wasn't going well for the aging slugger, and as he took the field at Pittsburgh's Forbes Field that day, his batting average was at .153, with only 3 homers, which gave him 711 for his career.

I'm not sure there's an explanation for what happened that day. The Braves were a terrible team with a record of 8-19 (they eventually finished in last place). Ruth came up in the top of the first with one out and a man on, and hit his 712th home run off of Pirates pitcher Red Lucas. Top of the third, same situation: one out, man on, although the pitcher was now Guy Bush. Ruth hit another home run, his 713th. By the time Ruth faced Bush in the 7th inning, he had added an RBI single ... at that point, he had knocked in all five Boston runs, but they trailed, 7-5. There was no one on base this time, but The Babe wasn't done. He hit his third home run of the game, the 714th of his career. The 4-for-4 day boosted his batting average to .206. His career record 714 home runs lasted from 1935 until Henry Aaron broke it in 1974.

Landon Donovan was arguably the greatest soccer player in U.S. history. While still a teenager, he joined the San Jose Earthquakes in MLS and helped them to two league championships in four years. He then moved to the Los Angeles Galaxy for the majority of his career. When he retired, he held the all-time MLS regular season record with 145 goals.

Chris Wondolowski was something of a late bloomer. In 2010, at the age of 27, Wondo led MLS in goals scored while playing for the Earthquakes. In 2018, still with the Quakes, he scored ten goals, making it nine straight seasons with at least ten goals, a league record. At the end of that season, he had 144 career league goals, one short of Donovan's record.

At the beginning of 2019, Wondo, now 36 years old, started the team's first four matches, all of which they lost. Wondo didn't score in any of them. He found himself on the bench for the fifth game, which the Quakes won. Wondo became a late-game substitute, and was scoreless for the season, while the Quakes were getting better every week under new coach Matías "Pelado" Almeyda.

Today, Wondolowski got his first start in awhile, due to an injury to regular starter Danny Hoesen. And this followed:

Hopefully, this marks a late resurgence for Wondo, but in any event, he has been a True Earthquake.

Since I brought up Babe Ruth to start this post, I should probably add that after that three-homer game, Ruth played five more games and never had another hit.


sports

Some context:

Liverpool is one of the most storied clubs in English soccer. They were founded in 1892. They have won the top flight of English soccer 18 times over the years, although their most recent was back in 1989-90, before the First Division became the Premier League that everyone knows today. Five times they have won the European Cup, which is more times than any other English team. Their home, Anfield, is world famous, and has been their home since their founding in 1892. Their fans are famously loyal ... they have a song, the venerable "You'll Never Walk Alone", which was originally from a Rodgers and Hammerstein musical. A version performed by the Liverpool band Gerry and the Pacemakers hit the top of the UK charts in 1963, and it became the soccer team's anthem, played before every home game. That this is important can be seen whenever an Anfield match is televised here in the States ... the announcers never talk over the crowd's singing. Here is an especially spirited rendition ... their opponents were Borussia Dortmund, who also use the song as their anthem, so supporters for both teams joined in:

Today, Anfield welcomed Barcelona for the second match of two in the Champions League semi-finals. Barcelona had beaten Liverpool at home 3-0, which meant Liverpool was behind before today's match even began. Not only that, two of Liverpool's biggest stars, Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino, were out with injury. And let's not forget that the greatest player of all time, Leo Messi, plays for Barcelona.

Liverpool got an early goal: 3-1. Early in the second half, they got two more: 3-3. And then came a smart, tricky corner kick, when Trent Alexander-Arnold noticed that the Barcelona players were busy getting set up. He took the kick before they were ready, Divock Origi scored: 4-3.

That was the final score. Liverpool advance to the Champions League final.

That's enough context. Here is what happened after the match: