[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,
ESPN3.com, 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.