Monday, July 18, 2011

USWNT Falls to Japan, Should Be Proud Regardless

The United States Women’s National Team captured the hearts of their country and likely several more. In the course of their run to the World Cup final, they overcame many challenges including a double overtime PK shootout to Brazil. The team improved with each game, but in the end they fell just short to a resilient Japanese team. But man, what a ride!
Fans were treated to a fantastic finale in which the Americans twice took the lead, only to be tied by a Japanese team that has had to overcome their share of challenges. The game was extremely exciting with astounding shots, saves and fantastic displays of teamwork from both teams.
The United States pressed extremely hard in the opening twenty minutes, so much so it looked as though they might run away with the game. However, despite creating a remarkable number of chances, they failed to capitalize. Missing just wide and hitting the post multiple times proved to be ultimately very costly as American legs tired from such a high pressure attack. Credit to the Japanese as they played patient and opportunistic soccer that suited their talent.
Alex Morgan
Despite controlling the ball and flow of play, the American women were held scoreless until second-half substitute Alex Morgan got in behind the Japanese defense and slotted home a left footed strike. However, Japan found an equalizer in the 81st minute when the US failed to clear the ball. Those defensive miscues weighed heavily on the US.
Abby Wambach, who seemed to silence her critics and excise her scoring demons again scored a crucial goal to give her team the lead in the first overtime. Wambach fired home a header just out of reach of the Japanese goalkeeper. The American supporters went crazy as it looked as though the US would secure their second World Cup victory. It was for not though, as the defensive miscues continued and Homare Sawa flicked in a header off a corner kick with four minutes to go.
It went to penalty kicks from there and Hope Solo’s heroics were no match for the three failed shots by the Americans. Two saves and a shot over the bar doomed the United States to second place and Japan won the World Cup.
No ill-thoughts should be given in respect to the Japanese. The team has been humble and impressive throughout the tournament. Furthermore, if ever there was a country in need of something great, it’s Japan. Their country has been through a great deal after suffering economic downturn and a devastating earthquake/tsunami.
As much as the American’s blue collar determination embodies much of the American Spirit, the Japanese were the beacon of light to give their country hope. Both teams, both sets of supporters and both countries have a lot to be proud of.
Highlights Below:

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