• Sunday Jul 05, 2015

    Three Points: USA v Japan

    The USA's Julie Johnston (pictured) has been one of the top performers at the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup. (Photo: FIFA via Getty Images

    VANCOUVER, Canada – A title is on the line Sunday at BC Place, where the United States and Japan are set to square off in the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup final.

    Here are Three Points to consider ahead of the game:

    1) Can the U.S. earn its third star?

    With two titles already under its belt, the United States will be looking to raise the World Cup trophy for a record third time. After taking top-honors at the inaugural tournament in 1991, the Americans again tasted World Cup glory at the home-hosted 1999 edition. Yet despite their perennial power status, the Stars and Stripes have found tournament success more difficult to come by in recent years, finishing third in both 2003 and 2007, before dropping a tightly-contested final to the Japanese in 2011. With a victory on Sunday, the U. S. would become the first three-time winner in the competition’s history.

    2) Rematch of the 2011 final

    While there is no shortage of incentives for success on Sunday, the United States carries added motivation into the match-up having lost to the Japanese in the 2011 final. In an epic, end-to-end clash that saw Alex Morgan and Abby Wambach on the scoresheet for the Americans, Japan twice fought back from a goal down in the game’s late stages to force extra-time, eventually securing their first World Cup title courtesy of Saki Kumagi’s deciding penalty kick. That defeat will still be fresh in the minds of the U.S. players as they seek both glory and redemption on the game’s biggest stage.

    3) One last test for the American defense

    The U.S. defense has been absolutely world class throughout the team’s march to the final. Since allowing a goal against Australia in the 27th minute of its opening match, the U.S. has shut out Sweden, Nigeria, Colombia, China and Germany – a stretch of 513 scoreless minutes. Driving the team’s defensive success has been the sensational center-back pairing of Julie Johnston and Becky Sauerbrunn, both of whom have played every minute of the tournament thus far. Also, the contributions of outside backs Ali Kreiger and Meghan Klingenberg should not be overlooked. In 16 games this year, the U.S. has surrendered just three goals, while scoring 29.

    Bonus Points

    • Sunday’s match features the two oldest teams in the history of the Women’s World Cup tournament with the U.S. averaging 29/years/old and six months and Japan having the average of 28-yeards-old and five months.
    • The USA is the fourth country to reach consecutive Women's World Cup finals (2011 and 2015). The other three are Germany (2003, 2007), Norway (10991, 1995) and Japan (2011, 2015).
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