I’m not much of a soccer fan. I played a few years as a kid, for a local community club, but quit well before puberty. I almost never watch it on TV, even when the World Cup bandwagon rolls around. The only players I can name are Pelé, Beckham and Hamm. And Knightley, but I suppose the Bend it Like Beckham star doesn’t count.
With my limited knowledge and appreciation of the game, I didn’t expect much from this HBO documentary. Sure, I know sports stories can be dramatic and exciting, but the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team? Not my first choice of subjects. Imagine my surprise when I became totally engrossed in the inspiring story of these women who gave their all when hardly anyone cared, who fought through all kinds of adversity, who dared to dream.
Dare to Dream: The Story of the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team is a perfectly descriptive title. Anchored around the 2004 retirement game of three U.S. women’s soccer stars, the film follows the team from its meager start in the mid-80’s as the “red-headed stepchild” of sports, on through to World Cup and Olympic glory. There are plenty of ups and downs along the way, as you’d expect from a good sports story.
Beyond winning, though, which these women certainly proved they could do, the team’s biggest challenge was simply being taken seriously as world-class athletes. While they won their first — and the first — Women’s World Cup Championship in 1991, it wasn’t until the 1999 World Cup, hosted by the U.S., that the team finally achieved recognition, respect and admiration from hundreds of thousands of fans across their own country. That’s when Mia Hamm became a household name, and the likes of Julie Foudy, Joy Fawcett, Kristine Lilly, Brandi Chastain and Michelle Akers began to achieve sports stardom, at least in limited fashion.
That momentous event, the most well-attended female sporting event in history, sparked the formation of the WUSA, a professional women’s soccer league. The members of the U.S. Women’s Soccer team can be credited for bringing recognition to a female sport that had none, and for inspiring legions of young girls who dream of carrying on their legacy. Dare to Dream may not be the finest documentary you’ll ever see, but its story is the stuff of legend.
Dare to Dream is presented on a single disc, in 1.33:1 full-screen format. Most of the documentary looks quite good, as you’d expect from a modern HBO production, though the quality of the source footage varies, since some was obviously shot on handycams. The transfer has no noticeable issues, so you’ll see everything as intended. Can’t ask for much more than that, I suppose.
Main English audio is 2.0, and it sounds fine. All dialogue is clear, from the interviews to sideline banter, and the Brian Keane’s score fills out well enough to amplify emotion in the right spots. No complaints, and no real praise — it is what it is.
2.0 audio is also available in Spanish, but there are no subtitles.
Nada. Zip. Zilch. Sigh…
I may not care about soccer, let alone women’s soccer, but I certainly enjoyed Dare to Dream: The Story of the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team. It may have helped that I knew nothing about the team going in, making every game outcome an unknown until the clock ran out. In any case, the complete lack of special features is a shame, but I’d still recommend this disc for sports fans.