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Three reasons the USA will win
by Paul Kennedy, July 17th, 2011 3:44AM

TAGS:  japan, women's national team, women's world cup


[WOMEN'S WORLD CUP SPOTLIGHT] Japan will be the sentimental favorite when it faces the USA Sunday in the Women's World Cup final in Frankfurt (TV: ESPN,, Galavision, live, 2 p.m. ET), but history favors the USA, which has never lost to Japan in 25 meetings. Here are three reasons the USA will win ...

1. Hope Solo. Solo gives the USA the best goalie in the world by quite a margin. Her save on Daiane decided the penalty shootout against Brazil in the quarterfinals. She made a key save on Gaetane Thiney in the first half of the semifinal against France when the Bleues could have overrun the shaky Americans. Solo says she stronger for the setbacks she suffered -- the death of her father and her suspension from the U.S team in 2007 for rant after the Brazil loss -- and she's gotten to enjoy Germany 2011 experience. She sure shows it on the field.

2. Abby Wambach. So much for Wambach's slump. After entering the World Cup with only one goal scored all year and missing more than a dozen chances against North Korea and Colombia, Wambach has scored in each of the last three games to give her 12 career World Cup goals, tying Michelle Akers and putting her only two behind all-time leaders Birgit Prinz and Marta. The Brazilian may be the best player in the world, but she isn't feared like Wambach, whose physicality makes her the most intimidating player in the world. Just ask the French. There's no one who was going to stop Wambach on her run to the far post to put away Lauren Cheney's corner kick for the winning goal. And there's no one in the Japanese lineup who comes within four inches of Wambach in height.

3. Bench. No team can come close to matching the weapons Coach Pia Sundhage has on her bench. Indeed, the USA is a better team with Megan Rapinoe on the left wing, Cheney pushed into the middle and Alex Morgan playing up top in place of Amy Rodriguez, but we'll probably have to wait for the second half and see Rapinoe and Morgan come off the bench. It's with Rapinoe, Cheney and Morgan on the field at the same time that the USA comes closest to achieving the soccer makeover Sundhage has been striving for since the USA won the 2008 Olympic gold medal.

  1. Wayne Root
    commented on: July 17, 2011 at 11:06 a.m.
    Too bad....

  1. Sidney Hall
    commented on: July 17, 2011 at 11:54 a.m.
    I sure hope they have talked and worked on their passing game for today. Their passing has been horible. They can't posses the ball until they learn how to pass. Stop with the long prayer shots over the top! Soccer has changed, and the US men and women's teams have to change with the times. The world is evolving to the beautiful game, we MUST evolve too!

  1. Mark Grody
    commented on: July 17, 2011 at 11:59 a.m.
    Correct about what would be the best xi.

  1. Mario Araujo
    commented on: July 17, 2011 at 2:22 p.m.
    Well I believe as Sidney Hall that the quality of passing and dribbling is not up to par. Passing and dribbling is almost non-existent in the final third of the field. The US Women are playing a style of soccer that is very outdated. Too much reliance on set pieces and long balls. For this reason, I believe Japan will win. They have proven they can beat teams similar to the US such as Germany as far as size, speed and air attack. The game will start soon. Lets see who is correct in their predictions.

  1. Bob Moyer
    commented on: July 17, 2011 at 8:54 p.m.
    Three reasons the US lost. Sole focus on size, speed, and athleticism. Technical skills are an after thought. The US has one player who is 5'4" - the rest are all taller. 18 of Japan's 21 players are 5'4" and under. One is 5'0". These girls wouldn't even get a look by the US national team, because they would be considered "too small" - regardless of their ability. When will the US begin to develop an appreciation for skill and discipline? Messi is 5'7", isn't he? ........ Three reasons Japan won - skill, discipline, heart.

  1. Jack Aldridge
    commented on: July 17, 2011 at 11:20 p.m.
    Japan similar to the possession game that Barcelona plays showed us all that control, quick passes and a lightening attack can take down a supposed bigger, stronger, "better" team. Was it hard taking the shoe out of your mouth, Mr. Kennedy?

  1. Heather Scott-molleda
    commented on: July 18, 2011 at 8:27 a.m.
    God bless you Bob Moyer! I have seen many girls overlooked because of their size for college and ODP teams despite superior skill and intelligence. Boys as well. It is a uniquely American prejudice. I hope US Soccer will take heed and read all of your posts. No one can fault the US for their guts or their fitness. But that won't cut it anymore.

  1. Oscar C
    commented on: July 18, 2011 at 10:05 a.m.
    First of all, I find funny how can you categorize some players as "the best in the world" that is a though call to make. Second, "...feared like Wambach, whose physicality makes her the most intimidating player in the world..." this is one of the biggest problems of soccer in US. We need to start to change that mentality. Mario Araujo, Bob Moyer and heather Scott-Molleda were right. US needs a new style of game. Passing, ball control, patient.

  1. Luis Arreola
    commented on: July 18, 2011 at 10:12 a.m.
    Wambach showed great skill for her height and was one of USA s best players. I do agree that USA does look at physicality over skill and that is the downfall. What no one mentions is that they also seem to purposely exclude Hispanics from their rosters. Mexico women's team became a force as soon as they took in 7 USa born players. How come everyone sees one side of player selection and not other?

  1. Juan Torres
    commented on: July 18, 2011 at 11:49 a.m.
    I agree completely with Sidney Hall, hope somebody listen.

  1. Heather Scott-molleda
    commented on: July 18, 2011 at 1:35 p.m.
    @Luis Arreola - I think the lack of diversity (it's not just Latinas that are absent) is a symptom of the flawed selection system which is a pay-to-play format that draws largely from the suburbs. And keep in mind some of the Mexican players CHOSE to play for Mexico rather than the US. It wasn't that the US team didn't want them, but they thought the Mexican team was a better fit. And judging from how well Mexico played, they were right!

  1. Natasha Celedon
    commented on: July 20, 2011 at 8:25 a.m.
    It's not actually that the girls wanted to play for Mexico. At times it's that their other nationality gives them an opportunity that the US didn't offer!

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