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U.S. women all the rage after epic win

The Associated Press
Published:   |   Updated: March 20, 2013 at 01:31 PM
DUSSELDORF, Germany -

From Hollywood to Hoboken, N.J., America is hooked on the U.S. women's soccer team.

The team shared the Yankee Stadium scoreboard with Derek Jeter, made an appearance on "Good Morning America" and can now count Tom Hanks, Lil Wayne and Super Bowl MVP Aaron Rodgers among their list of star-studded admirers.

Their epic victory against Brazil at the Women's World Cup on Sunday won them the admiration of fellow athletes and celebrities, and has fans flocking to jump on their bandwagon. Like Mia Hamm, Brandi Chastain and Julie Foudy before them, Hope Solo, Abby Wambach and company are getting a rare turn in the spotlight that could produce another watershed moment in the U.S. game.

Now the trick is to keep it going.

The Americans will play France in the semifinals Wednesday. If they win, they'll face either Japan or Sweden in Sunday's final with a chance to become the first team to capture three Women's World Cup titles.

"It's overwhelming. It's amazing," midfielder Carli Lloyd said Monday morning, still savoring the victory. "The support and buzz back home is really awesome, and I think it's helping women's soccer. This could be a huge turning point for the growth of soccer back home, and that's what we're trying to do and trying to accomplish.

"Hopefully, as an added bonus, we come back with the cup."

Unlike the American men, for whom making it out of the group stage at the World Cup is a strong showing, the U.S. women have been soccer's dominant team for about as long as anyone can remember.

U.S. fans can be a fickle bunch. They've become so accustomed to the women's success they yawn at anything less than a World Cup title, and the Americans haven't won soccer's biggest prize since the 1999 squad did it. They haven't produced a team that comes close to duplicating that group's rock star appeal, either.

Until, perhaps, now.

"We're participating in something that's huge," said Wambach, whose magnificent, leaping header in the 122nd minute Sunday sparked one of the most riveting finishes in a World Cup game. "Very few times does the spotlight shine so bright on women's soccer, and we want to prove to everybody around the world that we have a product and that product is worth watching."

The only thing Americans love more than a winner is one with "U-S-A" emblazoned on its chest, and the fact the women are a gritty, spunky bunch only heightens their appeal. Down a player for almost an hour, on the verge of their earliest World Cup exit ever, with Marta and the Brazilians pushing, shoving and whining for every call they could get, the U.S. responded with a can-do attitude.

After Wambach tied the game, Hope Solo denied the Brazilians in penalty kicks.

With that, Americans were hooked. FIFA said it was only the fourth time in World Cup history that a team came back to win after falling behind in extra time, and a first at the Women's World Cup.

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