USWNT out for redemption and glory against Japan
By Tyler Strauss
College Contributor Network
The United States Women's National Team was always out for redemption. From their commercials, their campaigns, and their preparation, it was easy to tell that revenge is what they were after.
They nearly captured the World Cup in 2011, only to lose in penalties. However, they clawed their way back, beating the best teams in the world to get there. And now, they face the side that denied them glory just four years ago. Japan has reached the final, in less stellar fashion than the U.S., benefiting from an own goal in stoppage time from England's Laura Bassett.
However, it doesn't matter how you get there, it only matters what you do when you reach touching distance of a dream. Make no mistake, the U.S. Women's National Team is so close, but they're not there yet. Defeating Japan will be no easy task, and the Japanese Women will take the confidence of beating them four years ago into the match. That being said, there are several reasons why the U.S. can realize its dream of redemption and beat Japan in the final.
Defender Julie Johnston has been mostly perfect in the back, minus her one mistake against Germany. The 23-year old has lead the women's defense and is one of the major reasons for their lack of concession this tournament. Having Hope Solo behind her must be a nice confidence boost as well. The American keeper has made several spectacular saves for her team in Canada. Becky Sauerbrunn is another stellar defender that deserves recognition as well.
Moving onto the midfield, Megan Rapinoe has quite possibly been the best midfielder of the tournament among all teams. She's that clinical. Not only does she create chances, but she weaves through defenders with ease and tact that has yet to be replicated thus far. Furthermore, Carli Lloyd has been one of the leaders of this team, fully taking control of the match against Germany. Not only did she bury her penalty without a shred of doubt, but she assisted Kelley O'Hara's goal as well, helping to ensure that her team were through to the finals. Players of her ilk are what make the United States so threatening.
Finally, up top the women impose an attacking threat that would terrify several defenders across the world. And they are lead by Alex Morgan. She has spearheaded the women's attack by her incisive runs in behind defenders, and her pure work ethic up top. With players like Morgan in Jill Ellis's side, it's tough to bet against the stars and stripes in Canada. It also goes without mentioning that players like Abby Wambach have such an influence both on and off the pitch. However, look for Alex Morgan to shoulder the burden of leadership during the final.
I expect the United States to finish the job against Japan in regulation. Look for Alex Morgan to get on the scoresheet, with help from Rapinoe and Lloyd, who have continued to have a large impact in the tournament thus far. I also expect the defense to hold up, allowing just one goal throughout the entire competition. If all goes according to plan, Jill Ellis' side will be champions on Sunday Night, having achieved redemption, revenge and glory.
Tyler Strauss is a student at Fordham University. He currently interns at the New York Cosmos and writes for their website. Tyler is also a contributor to many other soccer blogs such as CFCNet, ChelseaDaft, The Pride of London, and The Stamford Shed. He is seeking a career in the football (soccer) industry.