TSG’s Maura Gladys almost home with her primer for the Women’s World Cup Final.
There’s really not much to talk about at this point. We can talk about tactics, strategy and lineups for hours, but it won’t do any good.
The U.S. is big and physical. The Japanese are short and speedy.
Amy Rodriguez will start. Megan Rapinoe will not.
The United States will probably looked frazzled at some points.
But for all intents and purposes, what’d done is done. After 90 minutes (hopefully) tomorrow in Frankfurt, a new Women’s World Cup Champion will be crowned, and either team competing for the title will be deserving.
What we do know is that the two friendlies that the teams played in May, which the U.S. won by identical scores of 2-0, are inaccurate reflections of both teams.
Japan still plays the same disciplined, possession style that they did in May, but on top of that, they’ve added a creative, dynamic attack and a willingness to mix it up and take outside shots instead of always trying to play into the box.
The United States, for as much as they talked about switching to a possession-based style at the time, has been making it’s living off of aggressive play and set pieces.
As different as the two squad’s seem, they have some striking similarities, that could factor into tomorrow’s match.
Homare Sawa, the team’s unquestioned veteran leader, has, as her counterpart for this situation, Abby Wambach, put it, “literally [put] her team on her back and [carried] them to the final. “ She’s done this with four goals in five matches, three of which were scored with her head.
Sound familiar? Wambach only has three goals, two with her head, one with her shoulder, but the sentiment is still there, and it’s clear that Wambach, one of the team’s veteran leaders, has done as much as Sawa to inspire her own team.
The two teams also share an adeptness for set pieces. Japan has the brilliant Aya Miyama who has three assists, and can bend or float a ball to a certain spot at will. The U.S. counters with Lauren Cheney and Megan Rapinoe behind the ball and, of course, the head of Abby Wambach towering over defenders.
One other potential factor is who scores first. Against both Brazil and France, the United States jumped out to an early 1-0 lead, then sat back while their opponents continuously gunned for a leveler. If the U.S. is going to score first, it would almost be better if it came a little later in the game. This way, the squad would already be settled into a rhythm and wouldn’t just be pleased with its great start.
In the end, and we know this going into it, this game is about heart, and hope, and all that good stuff that we talk about when we know that it’s about more than a game. Both teams have already displayed a remarkable amount of intangibles to get to this point, and you almost don’t want to see either side lose, if only for the compelling storylines that come out of a victory. Either Japan brings glory and happiness to a wounded nation, or the U.S. writes a happy ending to its fairytale. Either way, hearts will be broken tomorrow.
But don’t worry about that for now. Be excited. Let the Megan Rapinoe song get stuck in your head, pump up some “Never Solo” and tonight, let the sweet sweet melodies of Pia Sundhage’s version of Simon and Garfunkel’s “Feelin’ Groovy” lull you to sleep.