David Elfin On Sports: Women’s World Cup Loss Hurts Even More In D.C.
There’s no shame in admitting it. We’re Losersville.
Other than once-formidable DC United and the since-folded Washington Freedom, both in soccer, Washington hasn’t had a championship team since the Redskins won their third and last Super Bowl six months shy of 20 years ago.
Maryland’s titles in men’s (2002) and women’s (2006) basketball don’t count since they were of the college variety and most sports fans in the District and Northern Virginia don’t care about the Terps.
Twenty years is so long ago that very few pro athletes, other than some golfers, are still around from those pre-Internet days when ESPN didn’t rule the sports world, LeBron James was 7, Peyton Manning was a high school sophomore and the New York Yankees had gone a decade without even making the playoffs.
With the Capitals as formidable as baby powder in postseason, the Nats still aiming for .500 and the Wizards and Redskins not even thinking seriously about contending, 2011 didn’t seem like it was going to be any different for the nation’s capital.
But then along came the United States women’s World Cup soccer team led by 2002-03 Freedom star Abby Wambach, the MVP of that team’s 2003 championship game victory and the author of clutch goals on headers in the matches against Brazil (quarterfinals), France (semifinals) and Japan (finals).
Wambach, whose 13 career World Cup goals are an American record and one shy of the international mark, was joined by Ali Krieger, a Prince William County native whose penalty kick beat the favored Brazilians. Sure it would be a somewhat tenuous connection, but a pro title’s a pro title, right?
However, despite the best efforts of Wambach and Kreiger, the Americans were upset by the Japanese on Sunday, leaving Washington still looking for glory.
Boston has won titles in hockey, baseball, basketball and football during the last six and a half years while we’ve gone more than three times as long without being able to celebrate a single championship.
That’s why the American women’s defeat hurts even more in D.C. than in so many other places that have had victory parades since Harry Potter was more than just an idea.
Maybe the additions of a handful of veterans will finally put Alex Ovechkin and the Caps over the top in next year’s playoffs.
Maybe Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper will turn the Nats into a powerhouse.
Maybe the Redskins and Wizards will not only play this season after being locked out, they won’t be embarrassments (I know, that’s too much to ask).
But after waiting nearly two decades to cover a true champion, I’m not getting my hopes up any time soon.
David Elfin has covered sports since he was a junior at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School in 1975. He is the Washington representative on the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee and is the former President of the Pro Football Writers of America. A pre-game regular on 106.7-The Fan during the 2010 Redskins season, he returned to the station as its blogger in March.