July 3, 2015
By Michael Lewis
READY TO MAKE SOME MORE HISTORY
USA women to Japan: Bring it on in WWC final
VANCOUVER -- Leave it for the U.S. women's national team to make some history before hopefully making some more history.
|Abby Wambach: "In order to be the best team in the world at the World Cup, you have to beat the best teams."
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
For the first time in history, the defending Olympic gold medalists will meet the reigning women's World Cup champions when the USA faces off with Japan at B.C. Place Sunday.
"In order to be the best team in the world at the World Cup, you have to beat the best teams," USA striker Abby Wambach said. "We just beat the number one team in the world in Germany and now we face Japan, another team that we have so much respect for.
"They have an amazing team and they're the reigning World Cup champions so I think it's going to be a fantastic final. Everyone will have to bring their 'A' game and whoever finishes their chances the most will come out on top. Hopefully it will be us."
The Americans are vying for their third world championship and first since 1999.
In the 2011 Women's World Cup final in Germany, Japan twice overcame one-goal deficits. They equalized with three minutes remaining in the second extratime period at 2-2 on Homare Sawa's goal before prevailing in a penalty-kick shootout, 3-1.
“We can’t let that happen again,” striker Alex Morgan said.
In the women's gold-medal match at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, the Americans registered a 2-1 win over Japan as midfielder Carli Lloyd scored both goals.
USA head coach Jill Ellis was an assistant coach in 2012 and attended the 2011 Women's World Cup. She could not think of a better final.
"I think it's fantastic,” she said. “These are two talented teams with a lot of history and rivalry and I think it will be a classic match-up. Both teams have a lot of the same players from 2011, but that said, this is a different team on a different journey and I know all 23 players and our staff are tremendously excited for this next challenge."
The USA reached the final behind a 2-0 win over Germany as Lloyd converted a penalty kick and set up the insurance tally by Kelley O'Hara.
"I'm excited," USA right back Ali Krieger said. "It's somewhat of a rematch from four years ago, but you want to play the best teams and Japan proved themselves in the other side of the bracket. You always want a great game in the final, and that's why we are here.
“It is fun to face Japan again, but we are really focusing on ourselves. We have good momentum, there's a really positive feel around the team and we will be ready for a great final."