In the Box

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Two years ago when Manchester United came to the United States as part of the Champions World Tour they more than lived up to their billing.

Having witnessed the Red Devils against Juventus game at a sold out Giants Stadium, I was in awe as to how Manchester United lived up to all the hype and press.

During warm-ups fans stood on the railing of all levels of the stadium staring at stars like Van Nistlerooy, Keane, and manager Sir Alex Ferguson like they were rock stars.

During games United understood the importance of performing and providing the effort to match the massive press.

The U.S. Women's recent trip to our city and Reliant Stadium was not different.

Prior to the game I had on my radio show "The Soccer Hour with Glenn Davis" both Cat Reddick and Brandi Chastain and you could sense through their passion that the trip to Houston was about entertaining and rewarding the loyal U.S. fans.

Mia Hamm on a conference call even went as far as to single out the Lone Star State and the trip to Reliant.

So after a dominant 5-0 performance against a young Ireland team it was clear to us all the women lived up to their gold medal reputation.

Hamm's four-assist performance was symbolic and only supported her legendary status.

It was great to see how she has evolved and adapted as a player as time has gone by.

Her chemistry and awareness with Abby Wambach who scored all five goals was reminiscent of their days together as members of the Washington Freedom in the WUSA.

The influence that Hamm has had on the career of Wambach and other younger U.S. National Team members can't be measured.

How amazing for young players like Wambach, Heather O'Reilly and Lindsey Tarpley to actually be playing on the same team of their childhood idol.

"The people who are retiring from this game are lifelong friends, and obviously Mia has been an instrumental part of my career," said Wambach.

"I don't know what is going to happen when she retires, but she is leaving the team in good hands and we're going to take care of this thing."

When Hamm went to take corner kicks it was great to see young players rise from their seats and run down the steps to chant Hamm's name and cheer her on.

The excitement, energy, and support was contagious with the stadium echoing chants of Mia, Mia Mia and USA, USA, USA throughout the night.

As for Wambach her five goals and effort were worth the price alone and reminds us she will be a focal point of the future.

She became only the fourth player in U.S. Woman's National team history to score five goals in a game.

In the second half she connected four times in a span of 15 minutes to close out the game dramatically and leave the Houston crowd of 16,991 wanting more.

Hamm assisted on three of them through her typical unselfish play and reminded us that the world's leading goal scorer is also an awesome provider.

"All game I was telling her that we had to get her (a goal) so it's ironic that she kept giving me balls that I had to finish," said Wambach of Hamm.

"But this is for the fans. We wanted to score some great goals an I think we gave it to the tonight."

One of the world's most dangerous forwards, Wambach's physical attributes certainly stand out.

But make no mistake, this is a soccer player that does not rely purely on strength and power.

She is skilled, creative, comfortable on the ball and can beat you in a variety of ways.

Not to mention her danger as a prime header of the ball.

What also was inspiring to see around Reliant Stadium were both boys and girls wearing their club jerseys proudly.

I spotted youth wearing jerseys from the Dynamos, Classics, Eclipse, Challenge, Albion Hurricane, First Colony, Bellaire, Texans, Texas Premier among others that I am sure I missed.

For those clubs and coaches who got their youth players out to these games you are to be applauded.

The value of live games provide an impetus for youth to dream and can be the platform to a deeper larger perspective on the sport of soccer.

Visualization is the vital partner to training sessions and games.

We are lucky to be in a city where a value has been put on providing top class soccer.

In the last few years we have been fortunate to witness the both the mens and womens national teams, top Mexican Clubs sides, Everton F.C. from England, Major League Soccer's Kansas City Wizards and the immensely popular Interliga tournament that provides passage for Mexico's top club teams into the prestigious Copa Libertadores which in this part of the world is equal to Europe Champions League.

It was history on this past October 23 when the women came here and much like Manchester United they lived up to their billing.

More history will be made during the upcoming Interliga Tournament that will be held at Reliant in January 2005.

See you there!

Davis is a nationally recognized broadcaster for HDNET where he partners up with former U.S. National Team defender Marcelo Balboa. He was one of the lead voices for ESPN during the 2002 World Cup and has called major international soccer matches for the Fox Network as well. He is a weekly columnist for the Houston Chronicle and hosts the "Soccer Hour with Glenn Davis" radio show on 90.1KPFT FM Radio every Sunday from 5-6 pm. Davis played soccer professionally for the Houston Dynamos where he was a league all star selection and team captain.

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