With one stunning cross and one textbook header, the Robbery in Dresden turned into the Miracle on Grass.



Cliche after cliche has been heaped on the Americans’ Women’s World Cup quarterfinal against Brazil — all deserved. The PK triumph touched every chord: hero over villain, fairness over corruption, team over individual. And it turned a little-known tournament and team into the talk of the country in a matter of days.



But now, Hope Solo, Abby Wambach and Megan Rapinoe face an even greater foe than the Brazilians and their referee ally:?living up to the hype.



The Americans must beat France today to make sure their victory doesn’t ring hollow. The World Cup semifinal is sure to garner the biggest TV audience for the women’s game since 1999 — a large percentage of which probably hasn’t watched a soccer match since the 2010 men’s World Cup.



They’re going to expect something special from the Americans’ seeming team of destiny.



That means a victory today — and another in the final. It’s all or nothing now for the U.S. Do they have it in them?



3 Reasons to watch



1. America’s newest breakout star



That clicking sound you hear is hundreds of thousands of American males (and some women) furiously typing the name Hope Solo into Google Image search.

Solo, the U.S. goalkeeper, is the breakout star of the 2011 Women’s World Cup — she’s talented, passionate and, yes, beautiful. She’ll be making a lot in endorsements coming out of the tournament.

But first she has to shut down French forward Louisa Necib. Solo is the best keeper in the world and she proved it against Brazil, stopping Daiane in the shootout to give U.S. the win.



2. We haven’t won in 12 years




This may come as a surprise to people who think the U.S. dominates all women’s sports.

I’m sure you all remember Brandi Chastain ripping off her shirt in 1999 as the U.S. won the World Cup. That was the last time they won.

Germany dominated the last two Cups. A new crop of players, like Solo and Abby Wambach, have replaced Chastain and Mia Hamm and none have won on the sport’s biggest stage.

Wambach has already said she would be crushed if the U.S. doesn’t win the title in what could be her final chance.



3. USA!?USA!?USA!



We all know the biggest reason to watch (yes, besides Hope Solo) is because this is the United States of America.



They are France.



Do I have to explain it any more clearly than that?



We take our American pride very seriously and it doesn’t matter if it’s hockey, skiing or soccer. We need to represent.



I know what you’re saying — soccer is boring and they all drop to the ground like they’ve been shot. You, my friend, are letting the French win. METRO/MARK OSBORNE