It took two weeks, but it looks like America is finally paying attention to the Women's World Cup. The United States' sensational come-from-behind victory over Brazil as time was winding down in Sunday's quarterfinal match in Dresden, Germany, drew 3.89 million viewers on ESPN. That was easily the biggest audience of this year's tournament (which began June 26), and ranks as the third most-watched Women's World Cup game ever in the U.S. (The top two games are the championship and semifinal games from the seminal 1999 tournament, best known for Brandi Chastain's title-clinching penalty kick.)
As in the '99 final, Sunday's game was a tense back-and-forth battle that went into overtime and then penalty kicks. After some controversial officiating (on both sides of the ball), the U.S. trailed Brazil 2-1 late in overtime. With only seconds to spare, Megan Rapinoe sent a high pass to striker Abby Wambach, who headed the ball into the net to tie the game. In the resulting penalty-kick shootout American goalkeeper Hope Solo managed to stop one of the Brazil attempts, securing an astonishing win for the U.S.
Though the American team is ranked No. 1, many considered them an underdog against the Brazilians, who had held their opponents scoreless in their opening matches. "This American attitude of pulling everything together and bringing out the best performance in each other is contagious," said the team's Swedish coach, Pia Sundhage. The team welcomes the growing attention they are receiving. In a post on Twitter, Solo said, "Go ahead, jump on the bandwagon and let's do this together."
The United States will face France in the semifinals on Wednesday, with pre-game coverage at 11:30 a.m./ET and the game going off at noon/ET on ESPN. Should the Americans win, they will play either Sweden or Japan (who meet in Thursday's other semifinal, at 2:15 p.m./ET) in Sunday's final (2 p.m./ET, ESPN).