Falling in Love in the 77th Minute
June 12, 2015 is the day that I fell in love with soccer.
Up until that point I enjoyed soccer casually. I played rec soccer growing up and watched my younger sister play club soccer throughout high school. I appreciated soccer from a distance whenever a big tournament would come around. I’d tune in to the Olympics and World Cup to cheer on the United States every four years just like everyone else, but I never really knew more than two or three players.
That was until 2015.
My best friend was a huge soccer fan. She played throughout college and followed the USWNT closely. She had convinced me to watch the 2015 World Cup qualifiers with her and I began to realize just how good these women were. I am a bit of a nerd and when I want to learn something new I want to know EVERYTHING. I began watching old matches and following the players on social media. My affinity for the players and USWNT history grew by the day.
I was excited to watch the team play in Canada.
I was excited that I knew more that two players this time around.
I was excited that the USA seemed to have a good chance at winning the tournament for the first time since 1999.
The first group stage match versus Australia was fun to watch, and I was happy with the win. Following the match my friend explained the rivalry between the US and Sweden. She explained that Sweden coach Pia Sundhage used to coach the USWNT and that matches with them always seemed to be close.
She warned me, and I still wasn’t fully prepared. Sweden was giving the USWNT a run for their money. Going into halftime deadlocked at 0-0 did nothing to calm my nerves.
In the 77th minute, Sweden’s Caroline Seger had a fantastic opportunity off of a corner kick. The ball was heading to the back post, and Hope Solo had no chance to save it. But there was Meghan Klingenberg, in all of her 5’2” of glory. The smallest player on the team had just saved a go-ahead goal with a goal line clearance, with her head. I remember jumping off of the coach and screaming so loudly I’m positive I scared the neighbors. This was the exact moment I transformed from a casual fan to ALL IN on women’s soccer. I watched the rest of the tournament with an enthusiasm I’d never had for a sporting event before. I cried when the team was presented with their medals and trophy. I got goose bumps watching the ticker tape parade.
I lost my shit when 'Kling' scored in front of her home crowd during the Victory Tour and waved the Terrible Towel. I needed to watch more of these brilliant players and began to learn about the NWSL. I decided to cheer for the Seattle Reign that year as Meghan Klingenberg and Megan Rapinoe were my favorite players from the tournament (Kling was my favorite, but I can’t ever justify wearing the color orange so Houston was out).
I fell in love with Laura Harvey, Kim Little, and Jess Fishlock. I began traveling across the country to watch the NWSL and USWNT. I visited Portland in 2018 and fell in love with the Riveters and Providence Park. I started following the W-League and WSL. I travelled to France to watch The Gals win their fourth star. I fell in love with soccer on June 12th, 2015 and it’s never been the same.
Thank you 2015 USWNT, and an extra cheers to Meghan Klingenberg.