USA vs Japan from Commerzbank-Arena in Frankfurt 2:45pm et
After years of preparation and hard work the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup comes down to the US versus Japan on Sunday from Frankfurt, Germany. The Japanese have dispatched New Zealand, Mexico, Germany and Sweden to get to the final while the US has defeated Korea DPR, Columbia, Brazil, and France to make it to the final. The US are heavy favourites to end the surprising streak Japan is on and hoist their first Women’s World Cup since 1999. Let’s check out these two squad’s to see what kind of game we can expect on Sunday afternoon.
Japan is only the second country from Asian to make it to the final of the Women’s World Cup. China failed to beat the US in the 1999 final on US soil. The Japanese team has railed around March earthquake and tsunami that struck the coast of Sendai. If the Japanese women can defeat the US it would bring great, joy, enthusiasm, and excitement to a country devastated by mother nature’s wrath. In order for Japan to win they will have to play exactly like they did against Germany and Sweden. Japan is a team that relies on x’s and o’s and precise positional play. They’re ability to pounce and capitalize on their opponents mistakes is uncanny. Nobody in Germany or Sweden thought the tiny team from Japan stood a chance, but we all saw what great gameplay, and strategy they employed earlier this week. When Japan turns on their offensive game they will look to midfield captain Homare Sawa to lead the way. Sawa is tied with Brazilian striker Marta for the lead in tournament goals with 4. Sawa is also a key playmaker for Japan, and will look to pass the ball forward when the US is vulnerable. Nahomi Kawasumi who scored twice against Sweden is somebody the US needs to keep an eye on. Another key player for Japan is striker Shinobu Ohno. Ohno is a very creative player that has caused a great deal of problems for opposing defenders. Her ability to create open space for herself and her unmarked teammates will create scoring opportunities. One player who may be familiar with the US Women’s team is defender Aya Sameshima. Sameshima plays for the Boston Breakers in the Women’s Professional Soccer League (WPS). Sameshima will be playing against 5 US Boston Breakers players on Sunday and she would love nothing more than to be able to return to Boston as the only Women’s World Cup winner on the Breakers team. Sameshima also turns 24 on Saturday so this would be a great birthday present for her. Ayumi Kaihori will be in-goal for Japan. Kaihori wasn’t really tested against Germany and Sweden because those teams failed to use their monumental size advantage against Japan. Japan will lock it down on Sunday and put a lot of babies and people to sleep. If your eyes happen to roll back in to your head when Japan has the ball don’t worry you haven’t died and gone to heaven you are just watching a very disciplined and structured Japanese team play at their absolute best. When Germany and Sweden got frustrated and started running around that’s when Japan unleashed Godzilla and marched on. Japan has a very good shot at upsetting the number 1 ranked US team. This will be a closer game than most people want and expect.
USA all the way!! Well that’s what many patriotic, bandwagon jumping US soccer fans are hoping for on Sunday. The US is coming in to Sunday’s game as huge favourites. The US are gunning for their 3rd FIFA Women’s World Cup title. The US won the inaugural Women’s World Cup in 1991, and also won in 1999. Germany has also won two Women’s World Cup so the US will be going for the tie-breaker. However it won’t be an easy game for the US, if you’ve watched the last two matches for both teams you know this matchup against Japan won’t be a cakewalk. The US needed penalty kicks to get past Brazil, and were throughly dominated during the French game until superstar Abby Wambach scored in the 79th minute. The US has all the momentum, and everything is going right for at the perfect time. Abby Wambach has come to play and proven that she is a big game performer that isn’t afraid to shine on the world’s biggest stage. Wambach has scored 3 goals in this tournament which puts her behind Sawa, and Marta. Wambach is also tied for second with 12 career Women’s World Cup goals. Abby Wambach will be a force to be reckoned with. She is just too tall, strong, and powerful for the pint-sized Japanese team to cover. Another player Japan needs to watch for is midfielder Megan Rapinoe. Rapinoe who plays with Wambach in the WPS is coming in to her own at this tournament. Rapinoe set up the game tying goal against Brazil and she also came on as sub and played terrific against the French. Rapinoe has found herself out of the starting 11 during the last two matches. US coach Pia Sundhage would be making a dire mistake if she leaves Rapinoe on the bench for this crucial match. Lauren Cheney is also another player who is key to the US team. Cheney who is a striker with the Boston Breakers scored in the 9th minute against France. If Wambach is somehow kept in check Cheney and striker Alex Morgan will prowling for goals. Japan is just two small to cover the US strikers. The US adapted against the French and focused more on their midfield play in the 2nd half. Pia Sundhage will need to keep her focus on this strategy to knock off Japan. Japan will try to play a game similar to what France did on Wednesday. If the US comes out of the gate slow this could prove to be their downfall. The defenders for the US will be Amy Le Peilbet, Christine Rampone, Stephanie Cox, and Rachel Buehler who will be returning to the lineup after sitting out against France because of a questionable red card against Brazil. The US defense will need to be alert, and quick to respond to the Japanese attack. If Japan can dart around the US defenders and move around silently without being detected the US might be fishing the ball out of the old onion bag. In net Hope Solo will be standing on guard for the red, white, and blue. Solo let in a bad goal against the French but she rebounded to play spectacular from then on. Hope Solo is a difference maker and her huge frame should make a huge difference against any Japanese corners, and free kicks. The US is the favourite and the should go all the way. American soccer fans in the US and abroad can rejoice because the Women’s World Cup is coming back to the home of the brave. Prediction USA 2-1
In the 3rd place game on Saturday from Rhein-Neckar Arena in Sinsheim Sweden will rebound and defeat up and coming France. Lotta Schelin, Jessica Landstrom, Josefine Oqvist, Lisa Dahlkvist, and the rest of the Swedish squad are too good and too proud to squander this consolation match. Prediction Sweden 3-1