For the first time in 12 years, the U.S. women’s national soccer team is headed back to the World Cup final.
And just like last time, they’ll be facing an Asian squad for the title.
The Americans overcame a frantic French attack yesterday, winning their semifinal, 3-1.
Hours later, Japan punched its own ticket to the final with a 3-1 comeback win over Sweden.
The U.S. took its only two matchups with Japan at the Women’s World Cup, in 1991 and 1995.
In 1999, the last time the Americans played in the tournament final, they famously topped China in penalty kicks.
A return trip to the championship game seemed unlikely early in the second half yesterday, when France wiped out the Americans’ 1-0 lead and threatened to go ahead themselves.
But after being badly dominated in the midfield for a half-hour, the Americans showed better conditioning late. Abby Wambach — the hero of Sunday’s quarterfinal against Brazil — headed in the eventual game-winner in the 79th minute.
Alex Morgan sealed things with a pretty floater three minutes later.
“We haven’t done anything the easy way, and we’ve had some serious ups and downs,” said forward Lauren Cheney, who assisted on Wambach’s go-ahead goal. “I think we just continue to follow our own path.
“You always want it to be 5-0 and you always want to have a great game and prove to everybody how great you are, but that’s not for us.”
Japan 3, Sweden 1
Japan came back from a goal down to beat Sweden and clinch a berth
opposite the U.S. in Sunday’s Women’s World Cup final.
Honestly? Good result for the Americans. The Japanese aren’t pushovers — they beat host Germany, after all. But Sweden probably had a stronger chance against the U.S. The
Americans’ physical presence ultimately paid off against France.
They have an even bigger advantage there over Japan.
2 Nahomi Kawasumi scored two goals for Japan, tallying in minutes 19 and 64.
Japan might have the most talented scorer in the tournament. Homare Sawa is even with Marta for the World Cup lead with four goals.