What happens when you blow two leads in the World Cup final? You get to pass through airport security without getting patted down, you get welcomed like champions upon your arrival back home, you’re invited to appear on national TV shows and you get to talk about your “strong mental spirit.”

Just ask Hope Solo and her teammates from the U.S. Women’s World Cup team.

The team returned home Monday after losing to Japan on Sunday in a match that saw the U.S. give up the tying goal in the 80th minute and again surrender an equalizer in the 117th minute. The two blown leads have the majority of NESN.com readers believing the team choked, but that didn’t stop hundreds of fans from greeting the players in New York City on Monday with a hero’s welcome.

“We’re hoping it’s not just bandwagon fans,” Solo, the goalkeeper who received the bulk of the media attention over the past few weeks, told The Associated Press. “We’re hoping that we gain some longevity, and I think we did. I am not surprised by it because I know that we women can play, we can fight. There is such a strong mental spirit among the team, and it’s a special team. I am not surprised that people are jumping on the bandwagon.”

Abby Wambach, No. 2 on the media spotlight list and scorer of 122 goals, scored what looked like the game-winner in the 104th minute. She then had the misfortune of having Japan’s tying goal appear to deflect off her just a few minutes later. The reception back home, at least, made her feel better.

“Coming home to this kind of reception,” she told the AP, “is truly one of the best things that has ever happened.”

Well, yeah. It sure beats losing.

The AP report says that airport security “posed for pictures instead of worrying about patdowns” and that Solo and Wambach will be on the Late Show With David Letterman, while that duo plus Megan Rapinoe will be on Good Morning America.

As a brief reminder, this team did not win. The players actually missed their first three penalty kicks, and considering that PKs typically have a success rate of about 85 percent, and considering that these were world-class players, that’s a damn-near impossible feat. Nobody is saying the past few weeks weren’t fun, and nobody should think these players aren’t worth of the nation’s respect … but do you remember David Letterman having the Steelers on his show after last year’s Super Bowl? No … because they lost. LeBron James and the Miami Heat were mocked for weeks for making it to the NBA Finals and losing. The World Cup is obviously a little different, but is it really that different?

At the end of the day, the moral of the story is not whether you win or lose; it’s apparently whether you almost win. As it stands right now in the world of women’s soccer in the U.S., that’s all that matters.

Photo of the day

How would you greet the U.S. Women’s World Cup team upon arriving back home?

Hope Solo, U.S. Women's Soccer Team Given Hero's Welcome, Despite Losing
Hope Solo, U.S. Women's Soccer Team Given Hero's Welcome, Despite Losing
Hope Solo, U.S. Women's Soccer Team Given Hero's Welcome, Despite Losing

Quote of the day

“Do you have fish or anything? Do you have pets, do you have dogs, do you have horses, do you know anybody with horses? So tell me do you know the enthusiasm they have with their horses? Are they proud when you come around? Do they show their horses off? Oh man, this is the same thing with pigeons and it just depends on what bloodline you have. They talk about what bloodline the horses have and what their mother and great-granddad and all those people did. Huh? It’s the same thing with pigeons. They’ve been doing this before Christ, some people just have the bloodlines since before The Crusades. Did you hear what I said? They have the bloodlines of Richard the Lionheart and all those other pigeons.”
–Mike Tyson, on XX 1090 in San Diego, when asked why he’s so proud of his pigeons

Tweet of the day

In other words, your TV decided to be a genius?

Hope Solo, U.S. Women's Soccer Team Given Hero's Welcome, Despite Losing

Video of the day

Alex Trebek just has no filter whatsoever.