I HAD TO WORK to find television coverage of the gold medal round of women's soccer (my station guide called it "Women's Football Final"). I couldn't see it live. The replay was compressed for advertisers. I wanted to see the play because the Athens Summer Olympic Games are likely to be the last world tournament for five legendary American players: Mia Hamm, Brandi Chastain, Kristine Lilly, Julie Foudy, and Joy Fawcett. With this group, the American women dominated the sport since the time I left the States. They won the first women's World Cup in 1991 and again in 1999, as well as the 1996 Olympic title in Atlanta (Norway won the gold in Sydney in 2000).
Most importantly, they provided excellent role models for my two daughters. They spawned an entire generation of soccer moms cruising the American suburbs in SUVs. They also motivated other nations to invest in women's football. I wish that same effect would reach Ireland.
Brazil gave the Americans a tough game on two occasion.s They dominated a scoreless first half of a first-round game a week ago. The U.S. rallied in the second half for a 2-0 victory. The final was a 2-1 American win in extra time.
Take a bow, women's soccer.
George Vecsey -- "This was the greatest national team that I have ever seen represent this country in men's or women's sport," says the New York Times columnist as he offers yet another wonderful Times audio slideshow.
Barry Svrluga -- audio recap
Steve Klein -- "Gold Medal Coverage"
Photo of the 2004 Summer Olympics by Barton Silverman/The New York Times.
Now go buy some American women's soccer gear.