U.S. Women’s Soccer Set For World Cup Final Against Japan
Sunday, July 05, 2015
Standing in the way of that moment is 90 minutes on Sunday against Japan in Vancouver, Canada - a match that is primed to be a sterling encounter of two of the world’s best teams.
The USWNT is ranked second in FIFA’s world rankings, while Japan is ranked fourth. Each team also has stalwart figures in attack and defense who can leave their mark on the game in various ways.
How Did They Get There?
As competitive as the 24-team field has been in Canada, both teams have charged through the group stage and knockout rounds.
Team USA has won five matches and tied one, but most remarkably just knocked off top-ranked Germany in the semi-final round by a score of 2-0. Results before then have been both shaky and inspiring, but the USWNT is now clicking on all cylinders ahead of Sunday’s championship match.
As for Japan, they’ve quietly been one of the best teams of the tournament, but garnered little media attention. The team has won all six of their games, playing with both a potent attack and resolute defense. More importantly though, they've proven to be a disciplined team from front to back.
"Something that is very surprising is their set pieces," said Huan Nguyen, National Women's Soccer League writer for SB Nation's Once A Metro blog. "Despite their height they have a knack for getting loose balls and being in the right positions. They have won every game by one goal so you can see they are very mentally tough."
Japan most recently knocked off England by a score of 2-1 in the semi-final round and are playing their best soccer heading into the final.
All throughout the World Cup, questions about team USA's formation and tactics have been at the forefront of heavy fan criticism, and justifiably so.
The team fought their way through a group stage of Australia, Sweden, and Nigeria, but did little to impress in any match. Then in the early portions of the knockout round, the U.S. relied on superior athleticism and fitness to emerge victorious as opposed to a refined game plan.
"It seems like they finally found a formation that they are successful at," said Nguyen. "Their defense had been good in all their games, but they are finally creating more opportunities to score and hopefully Alex Morgan finds her form and can convert those chances."
The team is peaking at the right moment and has quelled any questions surrounding themselves.
As much as Japan’s Aya Miyama or the USWNT’s Morgan can change the game in an instant, the dominant headline is that Sunday will be a rematch of the 2011 World Cup Final.
In 2011, after both nations were tied 2-2 at the end of extra time, it was Japan who won the ensuing penalty kick shootout by a score of 3-1. That result undoubtedly sits fresh in the minds of both of the Americans and Japanese, with the U.S. trying to avenge defeat and Japan trying to prove their win wasn’t a one-off scenario.
"It should be a good match," Nguyen said. "Japan is a very technical side. It'll be interesting to see if coach Jill Ellis sticks with the 4-3-3 [formation] or goes back to the 4-4-2 [formation]."
The match will be broadcast on FOX and Telemundo at 7 PM at Vancouver’s BC Place.
Related Slideshow: Ten Greatest Days in New England Sports History
February 1, 2004
Patriots 2004 Super Bowl
In 2004, the Patriots captured their third Super Bowl in four years. The win put New England in the group of the small number of dynasty teams in the NFL, joining the Packers, Steelers and 49ers.
Super Bowl XXXVIII finished with the Patriots holding on to a 32-29 win over the Carolina Panthers.
The game was also famous for the infamous wardrobe malfunction involving Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake.
December 21, 2010
Longest Winning Streak
The UConn women broke UCLA men's streak of the most consecutive wins in a season.
They dominated their sport like no other and on December 21, 2010, UConn's 93-62 win over Florida State put UConn women in the #1 position.
Later, Sports Illustrated named UConn women as the #3 greatest dynasty in sports in the decade behind only the Lakers and Patriots.
June 12, 1984
Celtics v. Lakers
The 1980's were the glory days of the NBA and the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers were the two teams that elevated the play and excitement of the era.
Larry Bird and Magic Johnson were the superstars and were the feature players. Their rivalry started in the NCAA finals when Magic dazzled and Bird fizzled.
On June 12, 1984, the Celtics won game seven, 111-102 with Cedric Maxwell leading the Celts in scoring with 24 points and a team leading 8 assists. Bird was MVP of the series.
October 27, 2004
Curse of the Bambino
In 2004, after the dramatic historic come from behind win against the Yankees, the Red Sox went on to the World Series and swept the Cardinals 4-0, to win the first title since 1918.
The World Series win broke the proverbial "Curse of the Bambino" which had been in place since the Red Sox sold Babe Ruth to the Yankees.
November 23, 1984
BC v. Miami
There could not have been a more unlikely superstar and there could not have been a bigger stage to pull off the most dramatic win when BC beat the defending National Champions. Quarterback Doug Flutie put on the best show - maybe ever -- in college football.
Flutie threw for 474 yards and 4 touchdowns and the last TD was to Gerard Phelan on the final play - maybe the most exciting play ever in sports.
Final score: BC 47, University of Miami 45.
October 13, 2013
Patriots Beat New Orleans on Last Second TD; Red Sox Comeback from 5 Runs Down v. Tigers
New England sports fans enjoyed the most improbable double header comeback wins.
First, the Patriots upset the undefeated New Orleans Saints with a 70 yard last minute drive that saw the Patriots score with just 5 seconds to steal a 30-27 win. The Saints had numerous opportunities to put the game away.
Then, the Boston Red Sox in Game Two of the ALCS at home rallied from a 5 run deficit in the 6th inning and came back on a David Ortiz grand slam to tie and a 9th inning hit to win. The Red Sox had lost Game One of the series 1-0 and were on the verge in Game Two of losing any chance of winning the series.
May 10, 1970
Bruins Beat Blues 4-3 in OT to Win Stanley Cup
The Boston Bruins took New England by storm behind the play of Phil Esposito and Bobby Orr.
In the final game and the score tied 3-3, Orr scored the winning and iconic goal to launch the Bruins into the hearts of New Englanders and to create one of sports most memorable photos.
April 28, 1966
Celtics Win 8th Straight, Red's Last Game, Russell First African American Head Coach
The win by the Boston Celtics over the Los Angeles Lakers in 1966 was a triple header for sports.
First, the 1966 Championship was the 8th straight and set a record never to be matched.
Second, it was the last game that Red Auerbach would ever coach.
Third, as Red stepped down, the enigmatic Bill Russell was named player coach - he was the first African American pro coach of the modern sports era. (Brown alum, Fritz Pollard coached pro football).
February 3, 2002
Patriots Upset Rams to Win 1st Super Bowl
The New England Patriots were 14 point underdogs to the Rams and this was expected to be one of the biggest blowouts in Super Bowl history.
Instead, the Patriots played physical defense and although outgained 427-267 in yards, went on to best the Rams.
The Patriots won on a last second field goal to win their 1st Super Bowl by a score of 20-17.
October 20, 2004
Red Sox Come Back from Down 0-3, to Beat Yankees in ACLS
The Red Sox were looking at another sad loss to the New York Yankees three games to zero and down to 3-4 in the ninth inning and down to their last three outs. The Sox scratched a run off a stolen base by Dave Roberts and a clutch hit by Bill Mueller to tie the game 4-4 and send it into extra innings.
In the 12th inning, the Red Sox scored two runs off a walk off homer by David Ortiz.
The Red Sox went on to make history winning three more games.
- U.S. Women’s Soccer Advances, World Cup Final Awaits
- World Cup Correspondent: American Support Skyrocketing
- World Cup Soccer in Providence: Rise of the American Outlaws
- U.S. Ties Portugal 2-2 in World Cup After Allowing Last Minute Goal
- Should the World Cup Come to New England?
- World Cup 2010: The Quarterfinals
- World Cup 2010: the Semi-Finals
- World Cup 2010: Championship
- RI Favorites - World Cup Coverage
- Culp from South Africa: Monday’s World Cup Update
- Culp From South Africa: Friday’s World Cup Update
- Grade the World Cup
- American Outlaws: RI’s World Cup Soccer Fanatics
- The World Cup Craze Has Fans Up Early
- WORLD CUP UPDATE - USA WINS in 90th minute to advance
- Cranston’s Parkhurst, Attleboro’s Cameron Make World Cup Team
- Update: Attleboro’s Cameron Makes World Cup Team, Parkhurst Cut
- Ron Reacts: The World Cup- Huh?
- World Cup Correspondent: Americans Overcome Downpour in Brazil
- U.S. Bounced From World Cup By Belgium
- Providence American Outlaws Encouraged by World Cup Progress
- U.S. Women’s National Team Readies for World Cup
- World Cup Correspondent: American Fans Take Over Rio Fanfest