By Aldwyn McGill
VANCOUVER – Team USA won the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup 5-2 over defending champion Japan before a sold-out BC Place Stadium.
It was a fitting end to a tournament which displayed Canadian hospitality at its best and American pride to the fullest.
As previously mentioned, the teams playing in the eastern part of the country had the best chance of winning the cup when you looked at the matchups that included USA, China PR, Korea DPR, Germany, and France.
However, heading into the WWC final the storyline surrounded the USA-Japan clash in consecutive Women’s World Cup finals after their close encounter at the 2012 London Olympics Football Tournament final where USA edged Japan 2-1 to win gold.
Hence, no one expected the highly anticipated rematch in Vancouver would have had the potential of a blowout as early as the fifth minute when at the 2011 Germany final, Japan won on penalty kicks from a late equalizer after 120 minutes and eight penalties.
It may have been 16 years since USA women won its last World Cup and four years since its devastating loss to Japan in the final but in its quest to be number one Japan found out the hard way that USA usually acquires the expertise required to transform disappointments into success.
In retrospect, the 2015 WWC final was the most amazing of starts that featured a 4-0 lead concocted by USA captain Carli Lloyd’s hat trick (3’, 5, 16’) and a blinding left-footed volley by Lauren Holiday (14′) that rubbed salt into the wounds of a stunned Japan team in the first 16 minutes.
After coming up agonizingly short on several occasions USA women’s team has proven they are indeed the champions of women’s football by capturing an unprecedented third Women’s World Cup title under coach Jill Ellis while holding the Olympic and CONCACAF championships.
USA women’s team has won three FIFA World Cup titles, one runner-up and three third-place finishes in the seven FIFA World Cups. However, last Sunday’s historic performance will go down as the most explosive start to a FIFA World Cup final by any team and at any level.
Ironically, at the Germany 2011 Final against Japan, Lloyd missed a penalty in the shootout but it was the USA captain’s individual brilliance at BC Place Stadium in 2015 that dictated the outcome of the match with a hat trick that was instrumental in creating Japan’s demise.
Her first and second of the game was from a corner kick when she reacted faster than Japan defenders to score the loose balls while teammate Lauren Holiday capitalized on a poor defensive clearance with a thunderous volley that gave USA an insurmountable 3-0 lead.
While I did not think the game was over after 16 minutes played I was convinced, however, that the race for the Golden Ball was over after Lloyd scored her third goal with a shot from half line over the scrambling Japan goalkeeper Ayumi Kaihori that gave USA a 4-0 lead.
Give Japan credit, they utilized their superior ball skill and technique to make the game a close 4-2 score with goals before and just after halftime. However, Japan’s only problem was that USA had their number and answered back two minutes later with a fifth goal to secure the 5-2 win and the title.
There were other individual performers such as Germany’s Celia Sasic who won the Adidas Golden Boot awarded as the top scorer with six goals although she was substituted in the third place match against England that almost jeopardized her chances of winning the award to runner-up Lloyd.
USA’s Hope Solo won the Golden Glove as the best goalkeeper and Canada’s defender Kadeisha Buchanan won the Hyundai Promising Young Player award for her impressive showing during the tournament. England defeated Germany 1-0 in extra time to win third spot while France won the Fair Play Award.