Women’s World Cup: One more for us

Megan Rapinoe practices Thursday in Frankfurt, Germany. She’s been a sparkplug late in games for the Americans.

The U.S. women’s national soccer team is the unquestioned favorite going into Sunday’s World Cup final.

But the showdown with Japan is anything but a coronation.

As destined as the Americans seem to take their first crown since that famous 1999 run, Japan is an impressive obstacle.

The Japanese are playing with purpose — they know they embody the hopes of their earthquake-ravaged homeland. The Americans’ big advantage is their strength and size, but Japan has beaten big, strong teams in Germany and Sweden.

Of course, neither of those squads had a striker like the 5-foot-11 Abby Wambach, who threatens to simply shrug off Japan’s back-line defenders.

Wambach has goals in each of the last three games — the last two of which were game winners.

The Americans will also return defender Rachel Buehler, who did not play in the semifinal win over France due to receiving a straight red card against Brazil.

She figures to return to the starting lineup, but it was the bench that gave the U.S. a spark against France. Forward Alex Morgan, 22, netted the third goal of the game coming in as a reserve. It was her first career World Cup goal.


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