VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- In French, it's Londres; in Latin, it's Londinium; in Greek it's Londhíno; and, my personal favorite, in Vietnamese, it's Luân Ðôn (has a nice ring to it). But the U.S. women's soccer team does not care what you call it; all it cares about is that it is indeed going to London to play in the Olympics.
The Americans' 3-0 semifinal win over Costa Rica in the CONCACAF Olympic qualifying tournament made it a certainty. Thirty-four goals scored and zero conceded later, I'd say it was well-deserved.
Here are my five takeaways from Friday night:
1. Take a moment to enjoy
We are always so busy in life racing to the next thing, we forget to take a deep breath and appreciate what was just accomplished. I hope the U.S. team takes a moment to enjoy this. OK, that was long enough. Back to London. :)
2. One step closer
The World Cup loss is still raw for the players (yep, I still find myself shouting bad words when I think of those Norwegian Vikings and our 1995 Cup loss). This win moves this team one step closer to grabbing that coveted title of world champion. One historical note: Every Women's World Cup the U.S. has lost has been followed by winning an Olympic gold medal.
3. Six months to prepare
There is no playoff pressure like last year's World Cup qualifiers (the U.S. was the last team to qualify for the tournament last summer). The players and staff can now lock on to their one goal: winning an Olympic gold medal.
4. Well, kinda
The team does have six months to prepare for that one goal, but there are plenty of distractions to sort through for the U.S. team. The big elephant in the room has "WPS" tattooed on it. The uncertainty of the Women's Professional Soccer League is surely going to be a distraction.
5. Calling all outside backs
The U.S. is chock-full of center backs. But you can bet there will be an all-out audition in the next few months for that outside back role after right back Ali Krieger's terrible injury (torn ACL and MCL) and an already fluctuating left outside back spot.
But enough analysis; now is the moment for the U.S. team to celebrate. Congratulations. My hope is that the team is somewhere together singing "Luân Ðôn bridges are falling down, falling down." If not, I will for them. Put your earmuffs on.