The United States women’s soccer team is not a Dream Team. It can’t be. After all, Dream Teams don’t have nightmares, as Abby Wambach grimly described last summer’s shootout loss to Japan in the World Cup final.
It is strange then how many and how widely the Americans continually captivate. Typically, fans in the United States fall in love with the fresh, new face ”” think of the gymnast Gabby Douglas and the swimmer Missy Franklin ”” or become obsessed with a team based on dominance and power and might. The Olympic men’s basketball teams are made up of N.B.A. mercenaries, yes, but they are almost always effective mercenaries. They throttle. They pummel. They thump.
The women’s soccer team does not, or at least it has not as often over the past few years….The attraction, it seems, lies in their flaws. Unlike the basketball Dream Teams and unlike their sporting ancestors, the commanding women’s soccer squads of the 1990s, the current incarnation is gloriously imperfect.