Prognosticators predicted that Shanghai 2007 would be the most hotly fought FIFA Women's World Cup ever. And they're looking to be right. Some of the toughest among the 16 teams locked horns in Round 1, and pushed and shoved each other to a draw. The U.S. team -- big favorites because of their Cup wins and esprit de corps -- fought the Korean team to a 2-2 draw -- even though feisty U.S. forward Abby Wambach was in the locker room for a while, getting stitches in a head wound.
Meanwhile Nigeria fought Sweden to a 1-1 draw, thanks to some brilliant opening footwork by striker Cynthia Uwak. In African women's soccer, Nigeria dominates. The Super Falcons have been to every World Cup since 1991, though they've made the final 8 only once. This year they're clearly determined to power all the way to the podium.
ESPN will be airing all 32 matches of the FIFA Women's World Cup. Considering how well our female futbolistas play on the global scene, it's nice that they're starting to get as much TV attention as our struggling U.S. men's teams. Women players now get sensational scrutiny in the U.S. Open and other stellar tennis events. But it took them nearly 40 years to get that kind of attention (not to mention money), starting in 1970 when Billie Jean King and a few other angry upstarts launched their now-historic women's tour. -- Patricia Nell Warren