United States Enjoy a Thrilling Triumph at the 2015 Women’s World Cup Final
A FIFA World Cup title continues to elude the United States men’s soccer team, but no such problem exists for the country’s women’s team. On the contrary, the USA women’s national team picked up their third trophy at the FIFA Women’s World Cup over the weekend, beating Japan in a decisive 5-2 championship match. The 2015 Women’s World Cup final victory ends a 16-year tournament title draught for the Americans and puts the USA back on the map in women’s soccer.
The Path to Glory
Even though the USA hadn’t won the Women’s World Cup title since 1999, they clearly came to Canada this summer prepared to dominate. Coached by veteran soccer manager Jill Ellis (who also lead the squad to a win at last year’s CONCACAF Women’s Championship), the United States football team topped their group and burned through the knockouts en route to an explosive final.
The group stage actually made the USA look weaker than several other teams in the tournament. While they ultimately finished at the top of Group D (which also featured Australia, Nigeria, and Sweden), a scoreless draw against Sweden in game two suggested that the wearers of the USA home shirt 2014 – 2015 might not have enough gas in the tank to end their World Cup draught. After all, both Japan and Brazil won all three of their group stage fixtures.
In the knockout stages, though, the Americans emerged as the frontrunners. They breezed through the round of 16, the quarterfinals, and the semis without allowing so much as a goal, beating Colombia, China, and Germany and making it look easy. Comparatively, Brazil were edged out in the round of 16 by Australia, and Japan only narrowly beat England in the semifinals.
USA versus Japan
By the time the Americans were donning the USA football shirt for the July 5th championship game, it was like history was repeating itself. Indeed, the 2011 Women’s World Cup also came down to the United States and Japan, with Japan ultimately breaking a 2-2 extra time tie with a 3-1 victory in penalty kicks.
Three of those first four goals were scored by 32-year-old midfielder Carli Lloyd, who was certainly the hero of the tournament for American football fans. Lloyd had scored one goal apiece in the round of 16, the quarters, and the semis, playing a key role in getting the United States into the final. Her three goals in the opening minutes of the championship game, meanwhile, tied her with Germany’s Celia Sasic as the tournament’s top scorer.
Though left shell-shocked by America’s opening barrage, the Japanese national football team rallied somewhat in the aftermath, getting on the board at the 27-minute mark with a goal from Yuki Ogimi, and cutting America’s lead in half at 52 minutes when USA defender Julie Johnston knocked an own goal into the net.
Japan’s renaissance was short-lived, though. Just two minutes after the own goal, American midfielder Tobin Heath hit the Japanese net once again to give the USA a 5-2 advantage. Strong defensive play for the rest of the game meant Japan never had a chance to cut into the American lead, and the United States ended up winning their third Women’s World Cup title in emphatic fashion.
With the victory, the United States national football team becomes the first to win three titles at the Women’s World Cup. For years, the USA had been the only country in the world with two victories at the tournament, but Germany caught up with back-to-back wins in 2003 and 2007. Now, the American squad is back on top.
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