World Cup Final: U.S., Japan Vie To Make History

“What I’ve always loved about the team is this ability to enjoy the pressure and laugh in the face of adversity, to recognize the balance of what you’re doing. You need to enjoy the moment and you also need to get out there and, we used to say, ’rip their heads off’. It was a roll-up-your-sleeves, get-your-fingernails-dirty.”

~Julie Foudy, ESPN analyst and former U.S. [soccer] star

Bill Chappell
NPR
7/16/2011

The FIFA Women’s World Cup final pits the U.S. Women’s National Team against Japan Sunday at 2:45 p.m., ET…

…The Americans got into the final thanks to a 3-1 semifinal victory over France — which took more shots and controlled the ball more than the U.S. side. And like the French team, Japan is good at using precise passes to control possession and create scoring chances.

By contrast, the Americans have been a tad inconsistent but wildly successful, making the most of an ability to adjust to their opponents’ strategies and personnel. It’s also nice to have a confident leader in Wambach, an elite goalkeeper in Hope Solo, and the speed and size to put on swift counter-attacks…

…Sunday’s title match will be Japan’s first. But the Japanese players have shown few signs of nerves at this World Cup — in interviews, they say they want to win, to inspire and console the victims of the earthquake and tsunami that their country is still coping with.

“Even little things, like a win, can give people courage and hope,” Japanese coach Norio Sasaki told the AP. “And when we play the final, we are not going to think about the end result. We are just going to do what we can.”

That sentiment has made Japan a favorite in many fans’ hearts. And even the U.S. players say they’re impressed with the Japanese, and their motivations.

Discussing Japan, Hope Solo told the AP, “They are playing for something bigger and better than the game. And when you’re playing with so much emotion, and so much heart — that’s hard to play against. So I think it’s going to be an incredible final that people didn’t expect to see.”…

The complete article is at NPR.org

At The Wall Street Journal, Pure Brawn and Horsepower: As Soccer Gets More Technical, the U.S. Women Still Thrive on Physical Play

From 10 July 2011, Americans advance to seminals in dramatic fashion; The U.S. women’s team moves on in the Women’s World Cup in Germany after overcoming several obstacles to pull off the stunner against Marta and Brazil.

It was one of the all-time dramatic matches in women’s soccer history.

The United States women’s national team overcame a controversial call on a penalty kick, a red card and a one-goal deficit in extra time en route to a 2-2 (5-3 PKs) win to advance to the semifinals of the 2011 World Cup in Germany.

The Americans now have a smooth path to the finals after watching tournament favorites Germany and Brazil go down early on. Next up is France.

“I’m without words what happened today. Its just unbelievable,” U.S. coach Pia Sundhage said. “I’m Swedish and happy to learn every day more about that American mentality which the girls showed today – never to give up. Its just unbelievable.” [Emphasis CAJ]

13 July, U.S. women’s soccer team uses more late heroics to advance to World Cup final

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