Redemption at Last: USA routs Japan for 3rd World Cup Title
It all started 1,450 days ago. The United Sates played Japan in Frankfurt, Germany that day for the 2011 Women’s World Cup. The match would play out nil-nil until Alex Morgan got the first goal of the final in the 69th minute. Japan would tie it up 12 minutes later. The match would go to extra time. Again the U.S. scored first on a Abby Wambach goal in the 104th minute. Again Sawa, the Japanese legend, would tie it up and send the 2011 Women’s World Cup to penalty kicks. We all know how it ended from there and the scene has played out in Americans’ heads many times since…
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Japan beats the U.S. 3-1 in penalty kicks and win their first ever World Cup. The loss was heartbreaking for the USWNT who had the game seemingly won on two different occasions. So close, but it wasn’t meant to be that day in Germany. Fast Forward 1,450 days later, move the scene to Canada, Japan going for their second straight World Cup trophy, the United States looking to claim their third World Cup trophy. Japan looking to cement Asia’s place in soccer, the U.S. looking to become the only three-time winner of the World Cup. Only one of those things could happen on Sunday.
This was the first repeat title game in Women’s World Cup history and the United States had waited a long time for redemption. They didn’t have to wait a long time for their first goal in the World Cup Final. Carli Lloyd scored off a corner kick in the third minute. The first time that Japan had trailed in the 2015 Women’s World Cup. They had won all six prior games in this World Cup. But Japan found themselves in a huge hole when Lloyd did it again two minutes later. A free kick from right of the box was back heeled by Julie Johnston right in front of the box and Lloyd tapped it in. 2-nil USA.
They were not done there. In the 14th minute the ball was headed off a Japanese player and bounced way up right at the U.S. box, Lauren Holiday set her eyes on it, got under it before it hit the ground and booted it into the back of the net. But wait, there’s more…a minute and a half later, Carli Lloyd scores the most incredible goal I have ever seen for the hat trick…
The U.S. would drop back their pressure and Yuki Ogimi got the ball at the box in the 27th minute, made a nice turn and fired a shot past Hope Solo to put Japan on the board. USA leads 4-1 at the halftime break. While the USWNT headed into the locker room with a huge lead, they have been there before against this Japan team and knew that no lead was safe until the 90th plus minute.
U.S. coach Jill Ellis expressed that concern as well, speaking at the half about getting back to their game plan. The uneasy feeling was confirmed to be warranted when Julie Johnston hit an own goal header off a set piece in the 52nd minute. The score was 4-2, but not for long as 2 minutes later Morgan Brian tapped a pass in front of the box off a corner kick that Tobin Heath put in the back of the net. The USWNT was now up 5-2 off Heath’s first ever World Cup goal.
The game stalled out from there as the USA focused on their defense and dropped back into protection. Japan had opportunities to strike but Hope Solo put the wall up and shut them down. From there it was only a matter of who Jill Ellis would sub in for the USWNT. Kelley O’Hara got the honor as well as did Abby Wamback, who is playing in her last World Cup. In the 86th minute the USA made their final substitution as the 40-year-old Christie Rampone checked in for Alex Morgan. Rampone became the oldest woman to play in a World Cup.
The final whistle blew and the USA were Women’s World Cup Champions! They are the first country to win three Women’s World Cup titles. It is their first since 1999 when the U.S. hosted the Women’s World Cup. What started 27 days prior in Winnipeg, ended in Vancouver with a glorious celebration by the USWNT. They had completed their redemption and erased the feeling from Germany in 2011. The USWNT and the USA could again party like it’s 1999.
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Brandon Reid covers soccer for MyFantasySportsTalk.com and you can follow him on Twitter @New_Breid
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You can follow Brandon on Twitter @New_Breid