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Op-Ed \ John Grimm

It doesn’t get better than this!

Special to SoccerTimes

(Tuesday, July 6, 1999) -- China has a date with United States this Saturday, and the visitors can expect a crowd. Too bad the Rose Bowl isn't a little bigger. (WWC chief executive officer) Marla Messing has already declared the World Cup a success, with the biggest day yet to come. And she is right!

Who could have imagined? Who knew that sports reporters around the country would embrace this tournament? Who knew that attendance would be good for even for games not involving the United States? Who knew that we would be reading about soaring TV ratings, even better than the National Hockey League!? Who knew that the country would "discover" their women's soccer team and fall in love with it?

This success of this tournament has exceeded everyone's wildest dreams. I don't think that even tournament organizers expected this. Tournament organizers can take a bow. They've stepped up to the plate and they've hit the ball out of the park. The move from a small regional tournament to a national one in major stadiums was a bold, ambitious gamble. It could have backfired and, I admit, I was one of the skeptics. I wasn't sure they could fill the Rose Bowl for the final. I was wrong and I will eat crow now. Now I'm thinking that the Rose Bowl is a little too small.

Coverage of the tournament has been great. What I like is that it has been straight up sports reporting, the kind of reporting that makes you forget that we're talking about a women's event. So what if they're women? Get over it! The point is that they're athletes. The important thing is the drama, the spectacle, the glory.

The showpiece of the World Cup now becomes a rematch of the 1996 Olympic final in which the U.S. defeated China 2-1. And what a tremendous game that was! Accurately described by one announcer as "soccer fit for the 21st century." Let's hope that the World Cup final is half as exciting as the Olympic final was.

Some have already declared China the best team in the world, to which I say, "Not so fast! The U.S. still may have something to say about that." Yes, the U.S. will have to raise its game a little bit, but I think the Americans are quite capable of doing that. The final has the makings of a classic showdown of the two best teams in the world, both at the top of their game. And it's going to be on network TV. And the nation will be watching. Who could ask for more?

John Grimm of St. Louis operates a web site devoted to women’s soccer and can be e-mailed at jonagrm@mindspring.com.

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