USA, Japan Smash Their Opponents to Advance to the World Cup Finals

I know, another post about soccer. But I have to say, this has been one of the most entertaining tournaments in any sport I’ve ever watched. The US team is doing the nation proud and the Japanese team is shocking the world.

The US team faced off against France in the semi-final today, and took the lead in the 9th minute with a little angled chip shot from Lauren Cheney. But probably mindful that they came from behind at the last second to tie and then defeat England in the quarters, France didn’t give up. Soon they were dominating. and in the 55th minute, they equalized the score at 1-1. The next 20 minutes saw the US look tired as the French surged on attack after attack. The power was all their way until the 79th minute, when Abby Wambach headed a shot in from a perfectly delivered corner kick by Cheney. With the score 2-1 and about 11 minutes to go, the French frantically pushed forward to equalize, but the US found a counter attack and capped it with this finish from Alex Morgan, the youngest player on the US women’s team:

After that goal it was all over but the clock. The USA won, 3-1.

Japan pulled off yet another shocker, cruising past Sweden by the same score. The Swedes scored first but the calm, technically brilliant Japanese kept to their game and reeled off three unanswered goals over the course of the game.

Japan is extremely dangerous. They defend very well and when on offense, they have a way of slipping unnoticed past opposing defenders. What they lack in shot power, height and foot speed, they more than make up for in possession and skill on the ball. At times they passed rings around the bigger Swedes, forcing them to chase shadows for minutes on end to wear them down to the 3-1 finish.

The final pits Goliath vs Cinderella. The superpower US is the top-ranked team in the world and their counter attack has proven to be lethal while their defense has held up against hurricanes from the Brazilians and the French. They seem to be unbeatable because the never give up, and Japan has never defeated the United States in women’s soccer. They have never even been to a final. They were using this year’s World Cup as a tune-up for next year’s Olympics.

But the tune-up is over. Cinderella is going to the big dance. The strongest pair of teams meet in the World Cup Final on Sunday at 2:45 ET.