• Wednesday Aug 08, 2012

    US wants to avenge World Cup loss

    By Michael Lewis


    LONDON -- The U.S. women enter Thursday's Olympic women's soccer final at Wembley Stadium with two things on their minds: a little revenge and a chance at another gold medal.

    The Americans want to avenge last year's penalty kick defeat to Japan at the Women's World Cup final in Frankfurt, Germany. What made the loss particularly difficult was that the United States twice surrendered the lead - with nine minutes remaining in regulation and again with three minutes left in extra time.

    Striker Abby Wambach, who this year became the first woman to score in five consecutive Olympic matches, welcomed another game with Japan, the fourth for the United States in the past five months.

    "In order to win championships, you've got to play the best teams," she said. "Japan is obviously one of the best teams in the world. They proved that last summer. They proved it all year round. If they have healthy players and fit, and we have rested players and are fit, it's going to be a great game to watch.

    "They are very possession oriented. They're dangerous when their players are on. It could make for a great final."

    The game will pit the reigning Women's World Cup champion Japanese - who have lost only three times in 18 games in more than a year -- against the two-time defending Olympic champion United States, which has won 10 straight and lost only one of its last 21.

    It could come down to which team is able to impose its style.

    "The Japanese do a very good job of imposing their game on people," midfielder Megan Rapinoe said. "They keep possession in a small ticky-tacky kind of possession. It can slow the game down to their pace. If we try to impose our style and be a little more direct, go at them a little aggressively, I think we can get them on their heels a little bit."

    So far this year, the Americans and Japanese have won once against each other and drawn the other.

    Japan won the first encounter 1-0 at the Algarve Cup in Portugal on March 5. The United States earned a 1-1 draw in Sendai, Japan on April 1 before registering a 4-1 triumph in Halmstad, Sweden on June 18.

    "We know their strengths and weakness," said forward Alex Morgan, who scored twice in the Sweden game. "We need to bring our best game. We know each other very well.

    "We're going to worry about the strengths that we need to focus on and the tactics that we need to work on for our team rather than worrying about Japan too much."

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