U.S. shocks Japan with early barrage, coasts to first Women's World Cup crown since 1999.
By Robert Wagman
(Sunday, July 5, 2015) -- The United States women rode an impenetrable to the Women's World Cup final. Tonight, the American attack did its part in a big way. Riding three goals from midfielder Carli Lloyd to take a four-goal lead in the first 16 minutes, the U.S. captured its first World Cup crown since 1999 with a 5-2 triumph over Japan before 53,341 at BC Place in Vancouver.
It was a record third World Cup title for the U.S. which fell to Japan in tiebreaking penalty kicks four years ago after twice losing late one-goal advantages.
Lloyd, who scored the winning goal in the 2008 and 2012 Summer Olympics gold-medal matches
The U.S. was firmly in control before the match was five minutes old with Lloyd scoring twice. The first came in the third minute when she delayed before running onto a bouncing corner kick from midfielder Megan Rapinoe's and rifled the ball into the bottom left corner of the net from seven yards out. It was the fastest goal ever in a WWC final.
Two minutes later, midfielder Lauren Holiday sent a low ball off a free kick deep on the right flank. At the near post, defender Julie Johnston back-heeled a ball through a crowd in front of the net where Lloyd, three yards out, poked the ball into the right side for a 2-0 advantage.
Lloyd was being marked by Azusa Iwashimizu who lost her both times.
When the U.S. looks back on this tournament, in which it started slowly, the turning point came in the Round of 16, its fourth game, when the Americans defeated Colombia 2-0. Lloyd was moved from deep in the defensive midfield to an attacking position. From that point, she was the dominant American, as well as the entire event, tying for most goals with six with German striker Celia Sasic.
In the 14th minute, Iwashimizu tried to head away U.S. midfielder Tobin Heath's entry pass, but sent the ball straight up in the air. Holiday volleyed the ball out of the air and inside the near right post from 10 yards away to make it 3-0.
Two minutes later, Lloyd completed her hat trick, the fastest in World Cup history and third ever by an American woman in the WWC. A yard over the center stripe, she saw Japan goalkeeper Ayumi Kaihori straying too far off her goal-line. Lloyd launched a 55-yard shot over Kaihori, who stumbled and fell as she tried to backpedal, putting the U.S. ahead 4-0.
Japan wasn't ready to quit and forward Yuki Ogimi was given enough space to spin and rifle a shot past keeper Hope Solo, narrowing the deficit to 4-1.
The U.S. started the second half strong, but in the 52nd minute, Johnston, attempting to clear a ball, instead directed a header inside her left post and the score was 4-2.
Two minutes later, Heath converted a short right side cross to restore the American lead to 5-2. Japan played hard, but the U.S. defense was stalwart, running out the remaining time.
The U.S. was clearly the superior team. There might have been some elements of good fortune in the margin of victory, but the U.S. clearly demonstrated that the right nation was hoisting the Women's World Cup trophy.
U.S. Player Ratings
Goalkeeper Hope Solo 6: Cleanly beaten on the first Japan goal, she still made good saves and timely punches when they were needed. Maybe not a perfect match for the player honored as the best keeper in the tournament, was certainly good enough.
Defender Ali Krieger - 6.5: She was able to get forward quite often yet still provided good coverage on her wing. A strong match.
Defender Meghan Klingenberg - 6.5:The best U.S. defender. She almost was able to stop the pass that led to Japan's first goal, but she otherwise was the rock solid back the Americans needed.
Defender Becky Sauerbrunn - 6: . Not her best match of the tournament, but good enough. A few missteps, at times, but otherwise had a solid match.
Defender Julie Johnston - 4.5: Heading in an own goal after, losing her player and getting turned on the first Japan goal, she also made several miskicks and poor clearances. It was her worst match of the tournament.
Midfielder Megan Rapinoe - 6.5: On her 30th birthday, she got the U.S. off to a good start with her opening corner kick, leading to the first goal. She played a solid match the rest of the way.
Midfielder Lauren Holiday - 7: Probably her best match of the tournament. She scored an impressive goal, made good connecting passes and provided enough defensive aid when it was called for.
Midfielder Morgan Brian - 6.5: Her play certainly belied her youth. Once she settled in, she was spot on with her passes, while also providing defensive stops all over the field. She is one to build on for the future.
Forward Carli Lloyd - 9: As good of an individual performance in a World Cup match as any American male or female. A little luck and she could have easily had five goals.
Forward Alex Morgan - 5.5: Another match in which she clearly put out the effort, but with little to show for it.
Forward Tobin Heath - 7: Her key pass set up the second U.S. goal and her first-time rocket added the fifth. Her best game of the tournament
Forward Kelley O'Hara (61st minute for Rapinoe) - 6: Her fresh legs added to a midfield that was beginning to tire. A good showing.
Forward Abby Wambach (79th minute for Heath) - 7: In her 25th and likely last Women's World Cup appearance (second-most all-time behind Kristine Lilly's 30), she was brought down on a good scoring effort. She held the ball at times to help kill off the final minutes.
Midfielder Christie Rampone (86th minute for Morgan) - no rating: A fitting token appearance for the only player on the roster who was in the Rose Bowl foe the last U.S. WWC win in 1999.
SoccerTimes U.S. Player of the Match: Carli Lloyd
Robert Wagman is SoccerTimes senior correspondent.
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