USA vs. Japan: Women’s World Cup Final: Live Commentary

All the marbles. All the pretzels, so to speak.

USA vs. Japan. For the Cup.

Japan is no stranger to the Ali Krieger & the USWNT, losing two friendlies to the US just two months ago by identical 2-0 scorelines...

A quick aside here. The US ladies should probably first thank Japan when they line-up and shake hands.

It was Japan that took down heavy hometown favorite Germany in the first knockout.

Then it was Japan that took out the US group stage foil Sweden–who presented probably the most difficult challenger tactically to the States in the Women’s World Cup.

Carli Lloyd is looking to bounce back from a tough France match...

What that does say about Japan is that allusions that the US should win outright are miserly misplaced, even though the States went 2-0 against Japan in a friendly series less than 60 days ago.

Kickoff is set for 2:45 ET on ESPN. (Ratings expectation here in the States? Let’s go with a very strong 9.0 which would trump the USMNT’s knockout against Ghana just a year ago (8.2).)

Starting line-ups coming along shortly.

In the meantime, brush up if you haven’t:

The Official TSG Preview here.

Jeff Carlisle: US faces tough test against Japan.

The All White Kit: There Won’t Be Any Suprises Between These Two.


And if you’ve somehow missed them, two must-read USWNT interviews:

Heather O’Reilly: Another Champion Label Awaits: Heather O’Reilly

Alex Morgan: Sounds Like A Veteran, Plays Like A Veteran…Oh Wait, It’s Alex Morgan


Enjoy the match.

* Oh one more note, since I haven’t been able to mention it yet.

Carli Lloyd (pictured up on the left) was so dominant in college that she asked to practice with the men’s team at Rutgers because she wasn’t challenged playing against her women’s opponents. Wow.

48 responses to this post.

  1. […] Update: USA vs. Japan: Live Commentary…right here […]


    • Posted by Maura Gladys on 2011/07/17 at 10:25 AM

      WOW. Cannot believe it actually happened.


      • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/07/17 at 10:35 AM

        What do you think? Probably just to deal with the quick Japanese tick-tick-tick midfield. Think it will be more longball with Cheney / Wambach up top?


        • Posted by Maura Gladys on 2011/07/17 at 11:02 AM

          Yeah, it helps them stay a little more compact to deal with Japan’s possession style. Heard on ESPN that they might switch to a 4-5-1 at times to deal with it, so it does makes sense. But, there’s something to be said about Rapinoe’s spark.


          • Posted by MJ on 2011/07/17 at 11:12 AM

            With Rapinoe not available as a sub who are the go to subs now later on besides Morgan? I don’t see Rodriguez getting subbed in.


            • Posted by Maura Gladys on 2011/07/17 at 11:19 AM

              Lori Lindsey’s probably the most likely, for either Boxx or Lloyd in the middle, just to give fresh legs. I think Morgan comes on before A-Rod as an offensive sub. Then, maybe Tobin Heath for HAO?

        • Posted by justin on 2011/07/17 at 11:12 AM

          I feel like cheney will drop back more into the midfield to try to break up the japananese possession. Then on the attack I think she will hold it up and distribute little bit more between her and lloyed, while rapinoe and o’reilly push up the wings and attack from the outside-in.

          at the end of france game cheney played the CAM and did great. it will be interesting to see how she and lloyed interact with each other in the middle


    • Posted by Elizabeth on 2011/07/18 at 10:33 AM

      I think the outcome of the game was fantastic. It was a david and goliath match. I keep hearing commentators say that the USA team is the best in the world. What are they talking about. The USA womens team can only be referred to the best if they had one the Championship. Japan is the world champions!! before then was Germany, who unforunately did not make it through. The USA team thinks no one cane beat them, clearly this has been done over and over again. Hope Solo is a joke.. She ran her mouth off during the last women’s world cup and made a comment regarding the gold keeper at the time (Scurry), that the team would have not lost if she was keeper. Her words have surely come back to bite her. Big Baby. Four goals were scored against her. Sawa scored a beautiful goal against her. Smile on my face!!!!!

      While watching the game, the commentators seemed very biase as they only talked about the USA players, I mean, the commentator even went into details about some player having open heart surgery when she was 3 years old. Happy to know that she can play contact sports, but don’t see the relevance between her life story and commentating the game. Japan have gone through a tragic time in their country’s history, no commentator, I listened to made any reference to the trajedy or any of the team players the way they did for the USA. That is why I was happy when USA lost.

      The New York Flash has Marta playing in their league. I see her in so many endorsement ads, more so than any woman soccer player. I dont see the big deal in Wambaugh. She can play decent football, but I laughed when I saw that Marta won the silver boot, which is more than what Wombaugh received.


  2. Posted by Kenny on 2011/07/17 at 11:05 AM

    let’s get it done … Destiny is calling.


  3. Posted by Nelsonaoatl on 2011/07/17 at 11:25 AM

    predictions. USA wins. 4-3 4-2 or by one. odds Japan wins, however, is still fitty fifty.

    ps, who has a sexi crush on the team? me…


  4. Posted by Maura Gladys on 2011/07/17 at 12:12 PM

    We’re seeing how effective Cheney-Rapinoe-Wambach can be…well, besides the whole finishing part.


  5. Posted by Maura Gladys on 2011/07/17 at 12:46 PM

    Morgan on for the injured Cheney.


  6. Posted by Maura Gladys on 2011/07/17 at 1:12 PM

    Great ball by Rapinoe to set up the Morgan goal. U.S. needs to get one more for insurance.


    • Posted by Kenny on 2011/07/17 at 1:13 PM

      Rapinoe has had some awesome assists in this WC .. amazing.


    • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/07/18 at 10:06 AM

      Not sure I agree with it being a “great ball”, it was a simple over the top punt. That was all about Morgan because there was so much she still had to do.


  7. Posted by dth on 2011/07/17 at 2:09 PM

    Apparently Sundhage has retained the services of Bob Bradley as a Special Losing-the-Lead-in-a-Final Consultant.


  8. Posted by Ufficio on 2011/07/17 at 2:25 PM

    The first Japanese goal was the killer. What on earth was Krieger doing there? She’s either got to let the ball go or kick the crap out of it. Putting a soft touch on it is exactly the wrong thing to do.


  9. Posted by JasonPrice on 2011/07/17 at 2:44 PM

    Is it safe to say that Hope Solo is the Marvell Wynne of women’s soccer?


    • Posted by dth on 2011/07/17 at 2:47 PM

      No, that would be idiotic.


      • Posted by JasonPrice on 2011/07/17 at 3:04 PM

        Very little soccer sense. Not good in possession, inexplicable choices in passes with no discernable outlet, no evidence of tactical understanding, or control/manipulation of space, no leadership/plays in a bubble, YET only gets by with world class athleticism…


        • Posted by dth on 2011/07/17 at 3:19 PM

          I think you don’t know the names of which player is which.

          Solo is the keeper.


          • Posted by JasonPrice on 2011/07/17 at 3:23 PM

            perhaps you should be posting on Ives.
            I seem to recall TSG being a place for discussion not banal, juvenile responses.


            • Posted by dth on 2011/07/17 at 3:43 PM

              Well, uh, I just don’t see how you’re making the comments you’re making, or whether you’re watching the same games. Sorry.

            • Posted by dth on 2011/07/17 at 3:46 PM

              Especially as Solo was, by some distance, the best keeper in the tournament.

            • Posted by JasonPrice on 2011/07/17 at 4:14 PM

              I’m just saying that I saw a vacuum of leadership in the back that caught up with the US, and a goalkeeper the relied on her athletic ability and lacked composure and a certain understanding. Women’s goalkeeping is typically the worst part of the women’s game, but their are high standards in the US, following a Briana Scurry. I think she is overrated because of her charisma, and I think the Wynne comparison is apt.

            • Posted by mathmatics on 2011/07/18 at 6:16 AM

              Solo’s crossing was non-existent this tournament, and she didn’t beat a single defender off the dribble. Until she improves those aspects of her game I refuse to rate her.

              Sorry Mr Price, but dth’s initial response was actually the understatement of the year.

  10. Posted by Ufficio on 2011/07/17 at 2:47 PM

    At least the USWNT can take comfort in the fact that they’re better penalty-takers that the Brazilian men’s team.


  11. Posted by Paula on 2011/07/17 at 4:52 PM

    I’m sad, but it was clearly a tremendous match for both sides. The USWNT improved on almost everything people were telling them to improve. Japan had to be perfect and they were. Solo was hurt, which cost the team psychologically but can’t really be blamed on anyone.

    I am proud of this US team. And delighted by all the athletes who’ve basically shown up the Men’s World Cup in every possible way.

    The only the thing I hate right now is that f*&*^%%$%$@#g crossbar.


  12. Posted by kaya on 2011/07/17 at 6:27 PM

    Wow. Just wow. They finally played a game where they thoroughly deserved the win and shot themselves in the foot twice.


    • Posted by JW on 2011/07/17 at 6:55 PM

      I wouldn’t say that they shot themselves in the foot. Shooting yourself in the foot is something like bringing on Bornstein or making some glaring conscious decision that ends up poorly. This was neither; this was Japan getting lucky, then taking a chance. The poor clearance was a hard one and even then usually doesn’t go in like that. Sawa’s goal was just a case of the ball finding its way through a crowd, not much the US could do. Well taken considering Sawa was running away from the box, but fortunate. Maybe, given the stats, the US wins 80/100, ties 19/100, and loses 1/100 outright. Well, they tied, and then lost in the cruel crucible.

      I think there is a big distinction to be made here. Sometimes, teams fail; they lose games because they were inadequate, or they take their opponent too lightly, or don’t prepare out of a sense of entitlement. This team did not fail, it simply lost.


      • Posted by kaya on 2011/07/17 at 7:24 PM

        Not scoring any of the obvious chances they had in the first half, not clearing the ball the first time and then pulling a 2 stooges in the box for the 1st goal, giving the chance for the corner that led to the 2nd equalizer… I count these as shooting yourself in the foot.
        I was in the air during the game, so I’m still going through the first stages of mourning, but I was so sure we couldn’t lose this game after watching the first 15 minutes (delayed.) I was ready to call it deserved against Brazil or France, but not this.
        Of course, the Lloyd PK was a fitting end to her contributions in a way…


        • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/07/18 at 10:13 AM

          While I agree with the calamitous defending for the first Japanese goal, nobody has mentioned the careless give-away by Rampone that led to Japan regaining possession / service into the box.

          People on this blog must really hate Bornstein because he’s made similar errors and has gotten absolutely crucified… yet nobody has criticized Rampone.


          • Posted by kaya on 2011/07/18 at 10:52 PM

            I think because the backline made several careless passes in the runup and got away with them, it made that particular one stand out less. Also… adventurous camera angles, my least favorite aspect of the HD era.


      • Posted by dth on 2011/07/18 at 8:32 AM

        Bornstein never made a gaffe in the Gold Cup final as bad as the gaffe in regulation in the World Cup final.


  13. Posted by kaya on 2011/07/17 at 7:36 PM

    Wambach played today better than I think I’ve ever seen her. Of course her 4th goal came in the form of a header (how abouts a golden forehead award?), but had an overall amazing game.
    I wish Sawa’s remarkable record hadn’t come at Abby’s expense.


  14. Posted by Johninho on 2011/07/17 at 10:04 PM

    I can’t help thinking that almost seemed pre-destined/fixed. We dominated that game except for the exact moments we couldn’t clear our lines, and the PKs.

    Gracious of the USWNT to accept silvers with sportsmanship, I will say – but I think most of the footballing public knows better than to say Japan is the best women’s footballing national team on the planet.


  15. Posted by KickinNames... on 2011/07/18 at 5:17 AM

    Not sure what the Hope Solo bashing was about above but hey that’s why they make vanilla and chocolate….and lithium. She was remarkable throughout the tournament and victimized by poor defending on a number of occassion. And please…Marvell Wynne..this is a world class keeper. Poor comparison IMO.
    I think that Buehler was the defense’s liability with her lack of pace and athleticism the entire game and it caught up to them. Why was your slowest defender tracking Sawa on the goal? Good sound player for qualifying but Japan attacked her with pace the entire game and she looked quite shaky throughout esp on the goal. They knew something…
    Lloyd had a much better game but I cannot be the only one that felt that skybox penalty in their gut before she took it….
    Wambach is a beast. Pure plain and simple.
    Was anyone else wondering out loud whether Pia or anyone had a tactical convo with Tobin Heath before she came on the field with mins left and proceeded to attack 3 defenders by herself TWICE and give away possession instead of going to the corner and killing clock?…the corner/tying goal came on just such a change of possession. It’s the little things…And Tobin Heath taking a penalty?


  16. Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/07/18 at 8:02 AM

    It sort of reminded me of the Panama [?] game, in that the US team were dominant for large periods, created a number of chances in the first half, but could not capitalize. How Cheney did not hit the target in any of the three very good chances she had is beyond me, especially the headed attempt where she was on her own and had nobody challenging her. Lloyd’s [?] half volley resembled a drop kick in rugby, her body shape was just so wrong -I could hear my Dad’s voice saying, “keep your knee over the ball, Son. Knee over the ball”… I don’t want to criticize Wambach, because I thought she had a marvelous tournament, but the chance she missed in ET, where she hit it over the bar inside the six-yard box was amazing.

    As for the goalkeeper discussions, I have to sort of agree with Jason. I also think that Hope Solo is over rated. A lot of the saves she makes are the ones you expect your keeper to make -and they’ve generally been a ‘nice height’ for her. I still question her distribution, authority, communication and her decision making -especially when it comes to crosses; she was nowhere near some of them yesterday.

    And re. the penalty shoot out, didn’t the goalkeeping team do their homework on the Japanese? Maybe I am being harsh because the data might not have been readily available, but she tried to watch the penalty and react to that; not sure I agree with this because if the penalty is fairly accurately place with a decent amount of power, she’s never going to get there -which was evidenced by the one she *nearly* saved -if she went earlier, she probably would have saved it. Whereas, if you look at the Japanese keeper, she spread herself. Yes, she got a massive amount of luck with the first, saving with her feet, but as far as I am concerned, she made her own luck. I know people are going to criticize me for being harsh for “blaming” a keeper in a shootout, but my point is about her decision-making and not playing the percentages / giving herself the best chance


    • Posted by John on 2011/07/18 at 8:44 AM

      Er… Keepers are always overrated or underrated based on their performances. You stonewall everyone and the keeper is a wall. You let in 2 goals that may or may not be your fault and you are a sieve.

      Solo is a very good keeper, her ability to stop goals is directly related to how well her defense plays in front of her.

      Also, people have bad games (see Howard – Mexico), however this doesn’t make them a bad keeper.

      I love this over reaction response that everyone has to this loss, the USA didn’t take their chances Japan did. Happens all the time, just not always in a final. To be honest, given the luck the USA created in the Brazil game I fully expected Japan to win when they got into penalties.

      Regarding the Penalty Shootout, Hope did an interview on the Brazil shootout, and said that knowing the first two shooters from earlier in the game messed her up. She thought too much about the direction they might go in instead of going on instinct, when she read the players after the first two was when she made the save. So your mileage may vary.


      • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/07/18 at 9:14 AM

        TBH, I thought people’s positive reaction to prior displays was hyperbole. She’s a good shot stopper, but there’s so much more to goalkeeping than that.. She is a good keeper on a strong team, and we shall see in the next few years as other countries catch up with the US. Just to clarify, not saying she is the weak link, but I don’t think she’s as good as most people make her out to be.


        • Posted by KickinNames... on 2011/07/18 at 12:23 PM

          I know you enjoy the contrarian role, George, but I don’t see how looking at her body of work that you don’t conclude that she at least damn good if not the best in the world. This defense was leaky for most of the tournament and she made a lot of key stops in big spots including yesterdays game.
          The first goal she’s hung out to dry by her defenders and the second deflects off of Wambach’s arm before flying past her. She was in position to make the save so therefore she “should have”. Women’s keepers are notoriously challenged on set pieces due to the athletic limitations esp compared to men. Name off keepers in this tournament and hers will undoubtedly pos up one or tow.


          • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/07/18 at 1:13 PM

            Not sure why you’re talking about the goals conceded because not once did I say she was to blame. I was merely commenting on other aspects of her game that I feel are lacking, which therefore makes me question her “world class status”.

            I was also glad that the ref made her go straight to the goalline in the PSO, than try to walk up to the penalty taker and try to psych them out like she did in the other PSO. What is this, high school football? There are plenty of more subtle ways of “gamesmanship”…


            • Posted by KickinNames... on 2011/07/19 at 6:12 AM

              Ultimately, you determine “World Class” by comparing against other GK’s for the top teams in the world. In this tournament where arguably all of the top keepers were present, Solo’s GK play stood out in every circumstance. Name them off and rank their play and I guarantee that she shows up 1 or 2. That’s the World Class reality not comparing her to your standard of mens GK performance (commanding the box, marshalling the backline, etc). She outkicks every other keeper, makes every save required of her and occasionally pulls off the spectacular one when necessary.

        • Posted by Richard on 2011/07/18 at 9:35 PM

          Wait, are you comparing Solo to male keepers or other female keepers? Because compared to the other female keepers I’ve seen this World Cup, Solo is the cream of the crop. What other aspects of keeping do you see Solo being worse than other female keepers at, exactly, and who are those superior keepers in the women’s game?


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