After a month of classy soccer across Canada, the Women's World Cup wrapped up in Vancouver this past weekend. Since Van City is in my backyard, I powered through the post-Independence Day haze and drove into a very different, fire-induced haze north of the border.
I didn't have a ticket, but soaked up the scene outside B.C. Place as the masses poured in to witness history. A U.S. win would give all-time international goals leader Abby Wambach her first World Cup trophy, while a Japanese victory would signal the first time a women's team has ever repeated as tournament champion.
The atmosphere was different than I expected. Unlike the crazy drunken street fest I'd experienced during last year's Men's Cup, the Women's Cup was cheerful, but surprisingly calm. The crowd was younger, families, and groups of young girls and guys that had grown up with these players and were here to watch soccer, not just look for an excuse to party.
Granted, there was plenty of that as well, and as the match settled in, I found myself at a rowdy bar just across the street. The flurry of goals shocked us as much as our Japanese compadres and I think we were all just a little glad that we were on the right side of the onslaught.
At halftime, I figured I'd try my luck scalping a ticket, banking on a tired scalper looking to dump his last tickets of a very busy tournament. Note to self, scalpers never get tired. Thinking I'd found my man, I negotiated a good price just to get turned away at the gates for having a fake ticket—a nice $30 lesson.
Regardless, the experience in the streets was well worth the price of almost-admission. The electricity around a stadium on game day is inimitable, and in a game that brings the whole world together for 90 minutes, the sense is that much stronger. The U.S. won, and now we have another holiday to celebrate in July. Great job, ladies. Vamos Estados Unidos!