It’s only 20 minutes in to Canada’s Women’s Soccer semi-final at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and I’m almost in a blind rage.
German striker Alexandra Popp was chasing down a long ball just at the outside edge of the Canadian 18 yard box. She was running toward the corner, not the goal, and was only barely going to catch up to the ball going full tilt. She wasn’t even close to pretending to be a scoring threat.
Canadian defender Kadeisha Buchanan was the only other player around. She went beast mode on the chase and actually I thought she made up enough ground to have a step on Popp. She had a great angle blocking the net. It was pretty close to a 50/50 ball.
Popp had literally just come back on the field after taking a few minutes to sort out a hip issue. She had no pass options. She wasn’t looking to make miracles. She was praying for contact but not at all expecting it.
Not only did Buchanan provide contact. She completely gave up control of the situation. She had the attacker closed down with her back to goal and without full ball control. There’s only one thing not to do: LEAVE YOUR FEET.
Do literally anything else. Anything at all. Stay close. Tie your shoe. Run around and touch all four corner flags. Just don’t slide.
I don’t know how she didn’t hear me. As soon as the ball was through and I saw her running I kept saying out loud “just don’t slide. No need to slide. Please don’t slide. As long as you don’t slide”.
Popp couldn’t believe her luck. Germany’s Melanie Behringer converted the penalty by blasting a laser beam that but for the netting probably would have killed several people in the 23rd row.
And now I somehow have to bring myself together enough to suffer through the next 70 or more minutes waiting for an equalizer. I hope the game ends 9-7. I hope so many strange things happen that this early goal doesn’t even end up as a footnote in any conversation relating to the best/strangest/most incredible/they’ll be talking about this one for the next 300 years type game ever played.
Yet the whole time I’ll be wondering if it all eventually comes down to this decision.