And that's the game. The United States has fallen to Japan in the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup.
As I look through my Twitter feed, I'm not surprised to see the number of Chicagoans watching the match. We've always been a strong sports city, and soccer is no exception. Unfortunately, when it comes to sports, Chicago is also accustomed to disappointment. So while I do plan on sulking in bitterness for a while, I don't anticipate the sadness lasting as long this time.
It feels different this time. Of course, I'm disappointed. I'm sure the millions of Team USA fans in Chicago and throughout the world are too. But I find it hard to believe that this Japanese team wasn't destined to win today. Japan needed this win. They deserved this win. In the aftermath of devastating disaster, the people of Japan needed something to cheer for, something to smile about, and for the first time since March, something to believe in. The 21 women that make up the Japanese women's soccer team have used their strength to lift up a weary, defeated country. That is a victory all in its own. And in the end, that's what it's all about. It doesn't matter how many top players you have, or what your record is. What matters is having something to play for.
Believe me, the United States had plenty to play for, as well. They deserved it just as much. They were the top-ranked team in the world and it showed as they played their best game of the tournament. But the truth is, even the top-ranked team can't go up against destiny.
This is an historic day for Japan. One that its people will never forget, and one that they'll always be grateful for. Today, thanks to the Japanese women's soccer team, the sun will once again rise on the Land of the Rising Sun.
Congratulations, Japan. The city of Chicago, and the world, celebrates this victory with you.
About the author: Megan Ogulnick is a Chicago native who works in PR and yells at her TV far too much during sporting events. Follow her on Twitter @MOgulnick.