Tuesday, July 7, 2015

USWNT Wins Record Third FIFA Women's World Cup Title

"The FIFA Women’s World Cup final against Japan, which aired on Fox, was the most-watched soccer telecast in U.S. history with 25.4 million viewers, according to Fox Sports. The record was previously held by 2014’s U.S. vs. Portugal Men’s World Cup game, which 18.2 million viewers tuned in for. The previous record holder for the most-watched women’s match belonged to 1999’s Women’s World Cup game between U.S. and China, which had 18 million viewers."
NBC Sports:
Carli Lloyd scored the quickest goal in a Women’s World Cup final, slicing a shot with the outside of her left foot from a corner kick in the third minute of a 5-2 victory over Japan, as the United States became the first team to win the tournament three times.

Lloyd was far from done, becoming the first player to score three goals in the final of this tournament. All came in the first 16 minutes, before an ecstatic announced crowd of 53,341 at BC Place Stadium, including Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.

The United States built a 4-0 lead, was never really threatened as Japan closed the gap to 4-2, and found redemption after losing to Japan in a penalty shootout in the final of the 2011 Women’s World Cup.

The World Cup title is the United States’ first since 1999. They are also three-time defending Olympic champions, having beaten Japan in the 2012 Olympic final in London. Lloyd scored twice in that final to beat Japan as well.

“Ms. Lloyd, well she always does this to us,” Japan head coach Norio Sasaki said after the game, dropping his head and smiling.

Not only did she score the winning goals against China in the quarterfinals and Germany in the semifinals, the No. 10 stung quickly and often on Sunday. With her hat trick, Lloyd brought her total for the tournament to six goals and one assist, earning her the Silver Boot. And she won the Golden Ball award for best player.

Lloyd became the first player in history to score a hat trick in a Women’s World Cup final; Michelle Akers is the only other player to net a multi-goal game in a final, scoring twice in 1991. Lloyd’s goal in the 3rd minute was the fastest ever scored in a final. Lloyd also became the first American player to score in four straight World Cup games.

This wasn't just a World Cup win for the first time in 16 years. This was a win-of-a-kind: No other country has lifted the Women's World Cup three times (1991, 1999 and now, 2015).

The World Cup matches over the last month proved to be a showcase of dominance for international women's soccer, led by the powerhouse American team and stars like Abby Wambach, 35, the game's all-time leading scorer, regardless of gender. Wambach's 183 international goals dwarfs those of the top U.S. men's player, Landon Donovan, who has scored 57.

Wambach played in her final World Cup match, entering the game in the 79th minute for Tobin Heath. It was also the final World Cup match for Japanese midfielder Homare Sawa, playing in her co-record sixth World Cup.

Hope Solo leaves Canada with the Golden Gloves, given to the best goalie of the competition. The United States finished the tournament unbeaten, winning all but one game – a scoreless draw against Sweden in the group stage.

A rough start in the opening minutes of the World Cup against Australia – when Solo made two tournament changing saves and Megan Rapinoe scored her first of two goals early against the run of play – feels like a memory of year’s past. After the tie with Sweden, the Americans scraped past Nigeria to win Group D and then narrowly defeated 10-player Colombia in the round of 16 before coming into their own in the quarterfinal against China.

In that match, U.S. coach Jill Ellis inserted Morgan Brian and allowed Lloyd to push higher up the field, a move that truly paid dividends in the semifinal against Germany, which the United States dominated. Building off of those successes, Ellis stuck with the same starting XI from the semifinal in Sunday’s final against Japan, freeing up Lloyd to sit behind Morgan and do what she does best: Push forward and score goals.

More information:
» Slate: "The USWNT and Women’s World Cup Have Evolved Eons From 1999"
» Washington Post: "Why hardly anyone sponsored the most-watched soccer match in U.S. history"

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