Sunday, July 5, 2015

USA hammers Japan for third Women's World Cup title

United States 5-2 Japan
It was rather anticlimactic, but the USA have won the World Cup.

Carli Lloyd was the champion early on for the USA as she bagged a pair of goals before five minutes expired. The fisrt one came in the third minute after the USA won a corner. As the FOX broadcast team was speaking of the USA's height advantage over Japan, the corner came in low right to the spot Lloyd was charging. Lloyd banged home the ball to send BC Place into a red, white, and blue frenzy. Before anyone had a chance to calm down, Lloyd struck again as she was in the right place at the right time to boot home a rebound off a free kick.

The match calmed down a bit after the first five minutes of fury from the Americans and Japan started to settle into the game. They really had no choice but to throw women forward toward the goal and try to break the USA's unbelieveable defensive spell.  That would end up backfiring on them something terrible. Just before the quarter hour, the USA caught a break that ended with a nice ball forward to Alex Morgan, who laid it off to a streaking Lauren Holiday, who drilled the ball home.

At the quarter hour mark, there was more disaster for Japan. Lloyd struck again as she caught Japan's keeper out of position and lofted a shot from the halfway line that trickled in off the keeper's hand. Minutes later, Lloyd was inches away from heading home her fourth of the game. She connected on a cross, but her header wafted wide.

Japan was completely lost. They entered the match unprepared for the American onslaught that came in the first fifteen mintutes. From the opening kickoff, the USA was in complete control. They outcalssed Japan in every way imaginable.

As they continued to pour numbers forward, Japan did get a goal back before a half hour was up. The USA's fantastic streak of 540 minutes without a goal allowed came to an end in the 27th minute when Yuki Ogimi lofted a shot beyond the reach of a diving Hope Solo.

Japan's offensive attitude continued through the rest of the first half, but they couldn't add to their one goal total. The USA was happy to sit back and defend and not allow Japan any space in the box. It was only halftime, and it was already the highest scoring Women's World Cup Final in history.

The second half started with the USA on the attack, but it was Japan getting the early goal. It will go as an own goal off of Julie Johnston's head as she tried to clear with her noggin, but instead put the ball just beyond the line to make it 4-2 in the 53rd minute. Just a few minutes later, it was Tobin Heath capitalizing off a mad scramble in the box to make it 5-2 to the Americans.

As time wound down, Japan would attack, USA would defend and not allow anything. A few ceremonial subs brought in Abby Wambach and Christine Rampone to count down the seconds towards the third world championship in USA's storied women's soccer history.

It went from a group stage full of questions to a dominant knockout round performance that featured a systematic dismantling of the best team in the world and a total destruction of the defending champions. The USA went from giving me "no reason to believe that they would win the World Cup" to being undisputed champions of the world.

In a campaign highlighted by stout defense and few goals, the USA saved all their fireworks for the day after the Fourth of July, when they needed them the most. The five goals scored in the final were more than the first three games of the group stage combined, and equal to the three previous knockout round games.

The champions also featured many individual awards. Carli Lloyd, and her 15 minute hat trick in the final, was the deserved Golden Ball winner as the tournament MVP. She scored as many goals as Germany's Celia Sasic, but lost out on the Golden Boot on a minutes played tiebreaker. Hope Solo, and her 540 minute shutout streak, took the Golden Glove for the top goalkeeper. In my mind, the unsung hero, who sadly won't walk away with a personal medal, was Becky Sauerbrun. She quietly kept the superstar backline together when the more flashy Julie Johnston started to breakdown late in the competition. Without her responsible clearances and timely interventions I doubt that the team goes six whole games without conceding a goal. Overall, it was a team victory and each one of those ladies earned that World Cup Trophy.

Congratulations to the United States Women's National Team, who find themselves on top of the world for the third time.

No comments:

Post a Comment