Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Women's World Cup Final - U.S. vs Japan

There's so much that can be said about this game, but it all comes down to the above photo. The United States found their offense, found it early, found it in bunches, and rode that wave to its first World Cup Championship since the famous 1999 victory against China. A generation of women who watched that 1999 game aspired to do the same thing and finally found the promise land.

Remember when the United States men scored a goal in 30 seconds in last year's World Cup against Ghana, scoring so quickly it seemed to take them out of their game plan?  From my experience, the USWNT does not have that problem.  If you score early, that just means that you have a lot more time to score again.  If you score in the 3rd minute, then you can score again in the 5th minute. If you do that, you might as well score in the 14th minute.  While you're at it, score again in the 16th minute just to make sure that everybody remembers that the United States knows how to score. Then let the defense that has carried the load to the Final do their part too.  While a couple of rare defensive mistakes lead to two Japan goals, this game was never really in question before it reached its quarter mark.

Carli Lloyd drives me crazy, but when she's feeling it, she's one of the most dangerous midfielders in the world. The run that she did for the first goal was a thing of beauty. She ran from 35 yards out on a beeline through the penalty spot towards the 6-yard line to get the ball.

The second was putting herself in a position for a rebound, which she did.

The hat trick goal?  Are you kidding me?  To even attempt that shot, that's somebody who is bristling with confidence.

I said it on Twitter, but lost in the Lloyd hat trick was a spectacular goal by Lauren Holiday. A goal that FIFA agreed was one of the Top 10 in the tournament. I've seen comments about it not being a good goal, but it's not nearly as easy as she made it look. A first-time strike on a ball dropping from 35-feet in the air and hitting it before it ever hits the ground with so much pace that it goes right over the goalie before they have time to react? That's world class even if she made it look simple.

This was a total team win, highlighted by the early onslaught of goals, that finally shed the 1999 monkey on their collective backs.

Photo source, source

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