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U.S. Women’s National Team Loses World Cup Final To Japan

In what was a highly-watched– and highly-tweeted— match, the United States women’s national team lost in penalty kicks to their Japanese counterparts. This comes as a disappointment to U.S. fans because the red, white, and blue girls were the heavy favorites. But the stats don’t lie. despite taking more shots (27 to Japan’s 14), only six of them were on target (as opposed to 4 for Japan). The Japanese squad also held the ball for 53% of the match, somewhat controlling the tempo of the match.

Finally, in the 69th minute of the match, Alex Morgan gave her team what the fans thought was rightly theirs: the lead. Megan Rapinoe–best known in our minds as the girl who ran to a boom mike during a match against Colombia and belted out “Born In The USA!”– set up the goal with a beautiful assist on a counterattack. Her pass found an open Morgan, who put it past the goalkeeper. All hell had broken loose.

That is, of course, until the 80th minute, when Aya Miyama tied it up. Overtime.

Neither team seemed to budge during the extra minutes of play until the 104th minute when Abby Wambach–of course– scored with a header–of course– to make it 2-1. The way this tournament had unfolded, it seemed fitting that the head of destiny– the head of liberty!– would give the USWNT the win.

But that didn’t happen. In the 117th minute, three minutes before the Americans were crowned world champions, Homare Sawa– the tournament’s top scorer– made it 2-2 with a how-the-hell-did-that-go-in goal off a corner kick. Off to penalties, we were!

And it was during the penalty kicks where it all went to hell. Despite earning their way to the finals via a shootout against Brazil, USA wasn’t able to replicate their semi-final magic. They missed their first three penalties and only converted one to Japan’s three. And just like that, the game slipped away.

We have to give tons of credit to Japan. Despite being smaller in stature, despite being underdogs, they took down the two heavyweights (Germany and the USA) to win their first ever FIFA Women’s World Cup. Not to rub salt in your wounds but we told  you not to write off the Japanese.

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