In 2012, the United States Women’s National Team beat Japan to take the Gold Medal in Women’s Soccer at the London Summer Olympics. Redemption for losing the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup to Japan? Perhaps a small measure of redemption. But this is the one, the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup, that the Americans needed to win to put to rest the heartbreak of that 2011 loss. Whether they faced Japan on the way to the title was not as important as winning the title, but it would make it sweeter, more fitting. The big threat on the horizon was Germany, who looked like a machine early on in Canada. The USA would gain their ultimate redemption by taking out both Germany and Japan in back to back matches to emerge 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup champions.
The Americans, behind a stout defensive back line and Hope Solo in goal, was riding a long scoreless streak going into the final. Yuki Ogimi would break that streak in the 27th minute. The problem for Japan was by that time the United States had already scored 4 goals in the first 16 minutes, highlighted by a hat trick by Golden Ball and Silver Boot winner Carli Lloyd. It is the first hat trick in a Women’s World Cup final. Unless the USWNT had a historic collapse, the game was effectively decided in the first 20 minutes. The only other score for Japan came on an own goal by Julie Johnston of the USA in the 52nd minute. Even that hiccup was quickly answered in the 54th minute by a goal from Tobin Heath, pushing the U.S. to a 5-2 advantage. For most of the second half, the Americans and their fans were more or less waiting for the final whistle to blow. When it did, the United States had won their first Women’s World Cup since 1999, their third overall.
At the end, as the American squad received their gold medals, it was Abby Wambach and Christie Rampone who together came up last to hold up the champion’s trophy together. Wambach is the greatest goal scorer in international history, but she had never won a World Cup. Rampone is the last member of the 1999 American team that won a World Cup. This was the last World Cup for both. You could see the respect as Carli Lloyd gave Abby the captain’s armband when she was subbed in. It was a special honor for their teammates to send them (and Shannon Boxx) off as world champions. In fact, they have all earned the title of world champions. For myself, I’ve posted about some of these players for many years. It doesn’t seem real that Abby Wambach won’t be out there next World Cup. Or Rampone, either. Who knows? Maybe this is it for Golden Glove winner Hope Solo or Megan Rapinoe or Ali Krieger. It’s hard to imagine Solo coming back again at 37 years old by the next World Cup. But she does keep herself in terrific shape and she doesn’t have to run up and down the field as a goalkeeper. Then again, Rampone made this team at age 40.
However, those are questions for another day. Today…and probably into the foreseeable future…it’s party time for the United States Women’s Team. All the work, the pain, the injuries and letdowns. All of that is worth it now. With all due respect to the 99ers, it’s time for another group of great American soccer women to write their own championship story. The 15ers, I guess we can now call them, have done just that. And they did it in style, taking on the #5, #4 and #1 ranked teams in the world along the way without losing a match. Early on, there was some concern over their uninspired offense. They put those concerns to rest against Germany and Japan, turning it on when they needed it most. I salute Our Women, the United States Women’s National Team, 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup champions!
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