Women’s World Cup Final Live Blog: Japan Defeats U.S. on Penalty Kicks to Win World Cup


Women's World Cup Final Live Blog: Japan Defeats U.S. on Penalty Kicks to Win World Cup Penalty kicks: Saki Kumagai beats Solo, and Japan has won the World Cup.

The U.S. women could not recreate the PK magic of the ’99 Cup, as they missed three of their four attempts.

When asked by ESPN’s Bob Holtzman how to explain those three misses, U.S. coach Pia Sundhage simply said, “You don’t.”

That about sums it up right there, as the U.S. had plenty of chances to put away Japan but in the end just could not capitalize.

This is Japan’s first ever World Cup championship, and also the first time the Japan women have ever defeated the U.S. The commentators are calling it Japan’s “Miracle on Ice moment.”

Penalty kicks: Abby Wambach capitalizes after three consecutive misses by the U.S., but Japan needs just one more score to clinch the championship.

Penalty kicks: Critical save by Solo, the U.S. needed that one, still 1-0 Japan.

Penalty kicks: Carli Lloyd sends her kick well over the net, U.S. now in a deep hole.

Penalty kicks: Miyama nails her attempt, 1-0 Japan.

Penalty kicks: Shannon Boxx takes the first kick for the U.S., saved by Kaihori

End of extra time: This is only the second time the Cup final has been decided by PKs, and I’m sure U.S. soccer fans remember the first time.

Extra time, 116th minute: Sawa’s five goals in the World Cup lead all scorers, and none was bigger than this.

Just two minutes remain before penalty kicks.

Extra time, 96th minute: First card of the day comes out, as Japan’s goal scorer Miyama is given a yellow.

Extra time, 92nd minute: Nice cross into the middle of the Japan goal box headed by Wombach, but Kaihori is there for the save.

End of Regulation: We will have extra time in Frankfurt.

The U.S. had some solid chances in the closing minutes of regulation, with Heather O’Reilly sending a rocket just over the Japan net in the 91st minute, but could not capitalize.

The two teams will now play two 15-minute extra time sessions (no golden goal) and if the score remains tied we will go to penalty kicks. 

2nd half, 90th Minute: 90 minutes now gone, and the official announces that there will be just two minutes of stoppage time.

2nd half, 81st Minute: This one is not over yet.

Japan’s Aya Miyama capitalizes on some sloppy play in front of the U.S. net to tie the game at one with ten minutes remaining in regulation.

Ben Levine is done for the day, so this is now Zack Cox here to take you through what looks to be a thrilling finish.

2nd Half, 68th Minute: U.S. Goal!

Finally, am I right?

Alex Morgan, received the long (and I mean looong) pass, finally retrieving the ball in the opponent’s box before firing it past the goalie.

1-0, U.S. with about 20 to go.

2nd Half, 65th minute: Ohno out, Maruyama in. Ando out, Nagasato in. Ohno and Ando have played great so far, but some fresh legs could be exactly what Japan needs.

2nd Half, 63rd Minute: Wambach received a perfect pass in front of the goal. Despite being defended tightly, she managed to get her head on the ball, which barely floated over the net.

2nd Half, 60th Minute: Both on television and on the countless blogs I’m reading, analysts have discussed how the U.S. is getting increasingly frustrated.

I don’t see it. Japan has had more opportunities so far this half, but the U.S. has still been attacking the opponent’s goal with as much vigor as the first half.

2nd Half, 55th Minute: Much more even play from both squads so far in the second half. Japan has set up some excellent looks, but the U.S. defenders have been there.

2nd Half, 48th Minute: My reaction to what just happened: woooaHHHHhh…!

U.S. shot the ball off the bar, which the goalie unsuccessfully gathered. The ball was left in front of a wide open net. In fact, the ball was in danger of being tapped in by one of several Japan defenders, before the ball was cleared.

2nd Half, 45th minute: Lauren Cheney out with an apparent foot injury, apparently sustained on her opening sprint down the field. Amy Rodriguez in. The second half is set to begin.

Half Time: 0-0.

Considering the U.S.’s number of chances and their status as favorites, and then considering Japan has yet to allow a goal, you got to figure that Japan is feeling pretty good about themselves.

The U.S. has had plenty of opportunities, outshooting Japan 14-6. Of those 14 shots, though, only one has been on target. U.S. has done an admirable job getting the ball into the opponent’s box, but all of their scoring chances have come from the side of the net. The few chances that the United States has seen in front of the goal have resulted in overshots.

It’s been an energetic first half, though. I’ll go out on a limb and say the first team to score will win.

Update: For those who missed Wambach’s almost-goal, check it out here.

1st half, 42nd Minute: A great chip-pass there from Ohno over the U.S. defenders, but the pass was just out of reach of Ando.

1st Half, 38th minute: A Japan corner kick leads to a pass right outside the box, where an open Ando was standing. The shot soared over the U.S. goal, though.

Japan has seen more opportunities in the past five minutes. U.S. needs to capitalize on their chances.

1st half, 35th Minute: I’m losing track of U.S. chances. A long cross towards the middle of the box, over the Japan defenders. Cheney had the open spot, headed the ball — right out of bounds.

14 shots so far for the U.S. Only one has been on target.

1st Half, 30th Minute: Japan with their first great opportunity. Shinobu Ohno received the pass, but shot it right at Hope Solo.

1st Half, 28th minute: Abby Wambach with perhaps the best chance of the game (and that’s saying a lot). From the left side of the box, she fired the ball towards the upper-right hand corner. Unfortunately, the ball hit off the post.

1st Half, 25th minute: U.S. has eleven shots, Japan has two. Tale of the game, right there.

The U.S. has done a great job keeping the ball in the opposition’s half, and at times the team has been able to penetrate the box effortlessly.

Still, the majority of the team’s shots have come from the side of the goal. Anybody that’s ever kicked a soccer ball knows it’s difficult to score from such an awkward angle. U.S. should look to get more opportunities out in front.

1st Half, 13th Minute: A good-looking cross was poorly executed, but the ball somehow found it’s way to Carli Lloyd. Lloyd had the ball right outside of the box, but overshot. Same with Rapinoe a moment later. So close on the last three shots.

One of them is bound to go in, eventually.

U.S. has done an excellent job countering Japan’s speed. Japan controlled the ball briefly around the 11-minute mark, passing the ball in hopes of finding an open chance. U.S. ended up with possession.

1st Half, 8th minute: Shannon Boxx with a great pass towards the side of the goal. Cheney recovered the ball but could not get it in the net.

Abby Wambach had an open lane towards the goal a moment later, but overshot the ball over the goal.

U.S. has looked good early, though.

1st Half, 6th minute: U.S. has controlled the tempo of the game so far. Lauren Cheney had the first opportunity of the game for the U.S., racing down the field to recover a cleared ball. The angle was less to be desired though, resulting in a missed shot.

2:45 p.m.: Great support in the crowd for both sides. The National Anthems were played (you think the U.S. squad knew the cameras were on them as they mouthed the lyrics?), the random children exited the field, team photos were taken, and the teams are taking the field.

Here we go.

2:25 p.m.: Am I allowed to say that I wouldn’t be entirely disappointed if Japan won?

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m 100% a USA supporter and believe that they’re going to win this game (I’ll say 2-1, just to make things interesting).

Earthquakes devastated Japan earlier this year, and we can only assume that a world championship would, if only briefly, bring some happiness to an ailing nation.

2:00 p.m.: Are you ready for some futbol?

Less than an hour before plays gets underway for the 2011 Women’s World Cup Final. On one side is the United States, the arguable favorite since the beginning. And on the other side is Japan, the underdog that has scrapped their way to get to this point.

President Obama, who apparently has a Twitter, showed his support for the US team by tweeting: “To the women of our national soccer team: Sorry I can’t be there to see you play, but I’ll be cheering you on from here. Let’s go. -BO”. Two thoughts here: 1) Obama has some unfortunate initials. 2) I would have seen him as more of an underdog supporter. Shows what I know.

US coach Pia Sundhage has shaken up her lineup a bit, moving Lauren Cheney to striker, sub Megan Rapinoe to the wing, and struggling Amy Rodriguez to the bench.

Here are the starting lineups for both squads, back to front.

For the United States:

Hope Solo
Aly Krieger
Rachel Buehler
Christie Rampone
Amy Le Peilbet
Heather O’Reilly
Carly Lloyd
Shannon Boxx
Megan Rapinoe
Lauren Cheney
Abby Wambach


Ayumi Kaihori
Yukari Kinga
Azusa Iwashimizu
Saki Kumagai
Aya Sameshima
Shinobu Ohno
Mizuho Sakaguchi
Homare Sawa
Aya Miyama
Kozue Ando
Nahomi Kawasumi

I’m Ben Levine, I’ll be blogging the first half of the game before handing off the blog to my esteemed colleague Zack Cox.

Enjoy the game.

7:00 a.m.: It’s almost game time. At 2:45, the USA Women’s National team and Japan Women’s National Team will begin competing in the match they’ve dreamed about their entire lives. There’s no doubting that both teams will be ready — neither team can afford not to be.

After head-shaking semi-final eliminations in 2003 and 2007, the US Womens team is looking to bring the World Cup back home for the first time since 1999. A decade of disappointment and underperforming could be forgiven with a World Cup victory.

The team already defeated one formidable foe this week when they beat France 3-1 on Wednesday to advance to the Final. Despite the US having a lead at halftime, France bounced back, tying the score in the 55th minute and controlling the momentum for the majority of the second half.

Abby Wambach scored the eventual game-winner in the 79th minute, her third goal in three games. While the US managed to win when the star was struggling early in the tourney, the team will still have to rely on a solid game from Wambach.

US will be facing off against a Japan squad that is making it’s first-ever Finals appearance. While the USA team is looking to rid itself of the ghosts from the past 10 years, Japan has already exceeded it’s country’s expectations. The team has been the surprise of the Cup, defeating the defending champion and host Germany.

While there’s no doubting that the feisty Japan team could pull off another upset, the US should be able to rely on their experience and desire to win en route to a World Cup victory.

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