Now or Never: US Women Face Japan in Women’s World Cup Final

Today, the USWNT will have a chance to right their wrongs from the 2011 WWC final with a rematch against Japan. For me, 2011’s final was gut wrenching, and heartbreaking. It was the type of game where the scoreline didn’t do the game justice and the best team didn’t come away with the win. However, last week’s semifinal game against Germany showed us a different US team than we had seen in the earlier stages. All of the women actually played like a veteran team who knew what to do in order to advance. Everything came together from the top line to the defense, and they’ll have to play like that again on Sunday.

It’s going to be a tough game, but I have faith that the US can pull it off. With that said, here are my key thoughts on today’s Final.

photo via US Soccer
photo via US Soccer

Defense.

The defense has been outstanding this year. That’s probably an understatement, because they have been the driving force behind the USWNT’s run so far. Julie Johnston is like a brick wall, just like Hope Solo and Becky Sauerbrunn. These three are the key to why the U.S. has allowed just one goal in six matches. Though the U.S. defense is impeccable, Japan’s defense is just as good. They play the ball out of the back and have completed 80 percent of their passes in this World Cup, the highest of any team. We will see an all out defensive battle for 90+ minutes.

Crash the Box and Put Numbers Forward.

I said it in my last article, and I’ll say it again. The U.S. has some of the best forwards and midfielders in the World. Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe are going to have to win every 50/50 ball that comes their way. Japan’s players don’t back down from a challenge, but the USWNT are also aggressive when the game is on the line. If the U.S. can crash the box on corner kicks and power their way through, then they can have an advantage over Japan.

Abby Wambach Doesn’t Need to Start (but it’s good to put her in as a sub to spark action!)

I’ll stand by this statement until the final whistle. Abby Wambach doesn’t need to be in the starting 11. You might still be scratching your head and wondering why, so let me break it down for you. Wambach hasn’t been playing to her fullest potential this year. She’s been a little lackluster when she plays for the full 90, or even for 75 minutes. That’s why Ellis needs to bring Wambach on in the 70th minute. If the US is behind, sure, bring her on earlier! But if it’s tied or if the US is winning, then bring her on late in the game. She has the ability to bring the team back to life when she’s a sub – something that a lot of players don’t have. Wambach brings a breath of fresh air into the game, and she has the veteran ability to pump her team up and get them going again.

You won’t see me calling this upcoming final a “revenge” game, because the US had the 2011 final within their grasp but they lost it. Instead, I’ll just say that the 2015 final have the chance to show Americans who aren’t on the soccer bandwagon, that the US is pretty freaking good at the sport.

FOX’s pregame show will start at 5 EST and Kickoff for the Final is 7 EST.

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