The United States women’s soccer team not only exorcised some major demons Sunday in Vancouver, they also cemented themselves as the unquestioned “best in the world.” For the first time since 1999, the American women are World Cup champions, courtesy of a 5-2 drubbing of Japan in the highest scoring Women’s World Cup championship game in history.
There were only a few moments of uneasiness for U.S. fans in the clincher. When the ball deflected off the back of the head of American Julie Johnston for an own goal in the 52nd minute, there were haunting thoughts of the 2011 championship game that was won by the Japanese in penalty kicks. The score suddenly sat at 4-2 after a flurry of first half action. But when Morgan Brian found a wide open Tobin Heath in front of the net and Heath buried one past Japan netminder Ayumi Kaihori, the U.S. could rest easy.
The Americans’ start to Sunday’s championship game was other-worldly. It was as if the angered players from the title game in Germany four years ago suddenly showed up in Canada, hell-bent on revenge.
Carli Lloyd scored three minutes in. Lloyd again got one to trickle into the right corner of the net two minutes later. Lauren Holiday netted the third U.S. goal at the 14-minute mark to and Lloyd secured a hat trick just 16 minutes into the final. Lloyd got her team the 4-0 advantage thanks to an all-time shot, firing one from nearly midfield as she saw Kaihori out of position. The ball floated over Kaihori’s head as she stumbled and the pro-U.S. crowd in Canada flipped.
The U.S. held a 4-1 lead at halftime. The Americans took nine shots in the first half and Japan took just three. The U.S. also had three corner kicks in the first half.
The United States now has three Women’s World Cup titles, the most of any country in the world. The Americans also won in 1991 and 1999.