Here's the best soccer thing that happened over the weekend. It's Jessie Fleming of UCLA pulling one of the sickest moves you're ever going to see. I'm not going to name the Florida defender because she doesn't deserve that.
This GIF sent me into an existential crisis. I ended up thinking about the GIF itself, the sport as a whole, and women's soccer specifically for several hours because of this GIF. Here are several thoughts on this GIF and the game.
1. Jessie Fleming also scored two goals. She is very good.
2. We should mention that Florida won 4-3 in OT. Savannah Jordan of Florida is also very good.
3. This is absolutely memorizing, you could lose 10 minutes just watching it loop and have no idea what happened to those 10 minutes.
4. The defender has no clue what's happened until the ball is well past her.
5. That kick-out in desperation from the defender after she got beat. Oh god. We've all been there, whether literally in the same situation on the soccer field or metaphorically, in life, like when your shopping cart has definitely rolled 10 feet away from you, and is barreling towards a Harley with a very scary-looking owner, and you know you're totally screwed, but you make a hopeful last-second lunge for the cart anyway.
6. Soccer needs more of this. Winning is overrated. Embarrassing your opponent and making fans jump out of their seats is so much better than winning. The way people talk about legendary boring players who won a lot of stuff kind of gives this away. Like we're obligated to talk about Paolo Maldini as a legend, but we don't really care. We didn't really love watching him. We just know that he was one of the greatest ever, and repeat a thing that we know to be true, because we're supposed to. Screw that. Screw being Maldini. I'd rather be Guti. That's a real legend.
7. Jessie Fleming is playing college soccer, huh? How stupid is that? For the uninitiated, Fleming has been one of the biggest prospects in the world for a while now. She was hyped as a future superstar well before she could drive, making her debut for Canada at age 15. She was pretty good at the World Cup last year and extremely good at the Olympics this month. There's a good chance she's the best player in the world in a few years. She's already world class. She has no business playing against regular college kids.
8. During the Olympics, swimming announcers Dan Hicks and Rowdy Gaines told a story about the NCAA asking Missy Franklin if she would consider not swimming the 200-meter backstroke at NCAA level because it's just generally ridiculous and non-competitive. What if they did the same thing here and asked Fleming to play center back?
9. Haha, holy crap, look at the reaction of the UCLA men's soccer team on the bench behind her!
10. Fleming did have other options, of course. It's not like she had to play college soccer. She decided that a college experience and/or education was important to her, and that's fine. If they weren't, she could have worked out a pro deal with the Canadian Soccer Association, and even if that wasn't possible, she could have pulled a Lindsey Horan and headed to France to make some decent money.
11. But wow, are those limited options or what? Men of her caliber have so many options. College is basically never the best option for men of her caliber (Jordan Morris is not of her caliber, sit down). Fleming's not the only one who's choosing this path right now either. Her CANWNT teammates Kadeisha Buchanan and Ashley Lawrence are both clearly good enough to be top NWSL starters right now. They're both at West Virginia University.
12. Can y'all buy some tickets to see women's soccer so these players can make a living wage? Damn.
13. Jessie Fleming is the truth and the light and the holy spirit.