The U.S. women’s soccer team will face Japan for the Olympic gold at the sold-out Wembley Stadium. It will be more fittingly a rematch of the World Cup final played in Germany a year ago.
Back then, the Japanese stunned the U.S. women’s team with a goal in the extra time and snatched the trophy just like that. The U.S. team this time is looking for a payback, but one that is laced with respect and admiration for each other.
The mutual respect was quite on display Wednesday after the press conference for the Japanese team. Both teams were seen in embrace for a photo op. U.S. forward Abby Wambach spoke of the earlier matches on the way to the final and how physical and dangerous the other teams were. She had all the good words and appreciation for the Japanese team. Wambach sounded excited about Thursday finale.
Whatever the outcome of the Thursday match, the U.S. women’s soccer team got exactly what they could have ever asked for. The players are all charged up for the most important 90 minutes of their lives. Team USA is still at the top position in the world and have take home the Olympic gold on three occasions and this would be their fourth attempt.
The Americans have won all the five matches to reach the finals, but they are yet to demonstrate the killer instinct required to keep the ball in possession and take a straight shot at the goal. Coach Sundhage has given instructions to her team to keep the ball in possession and advance to the other side with short and stable passes.
Japan is more of a technical team that doesn’t like to make mistakes. It’s a champion team that depends on precision passing and sees possession of the ball as the best defence. Their world cup win was nothing short of extraordinary, one that provided a psychological cushioning to a country hit by successive natural and nuclear disasters. They are more likely to play for the gold with equal passion.
Japanese coach Norio Sasaki has the precision tactics and he applied it to his team’s advantage in the match against South Africa. Sasaki went as far as instructing his players to refrain from scoring because that would have meant extra travel for them.
The U.S. team has so far been consistent and the roster boasts of a talented line-up. Forwards Wambach and Alex Morgan give their team an extra boost on the front, while midfielder Megan Rapinoe can give a pretty good scare to the goalkeeper.
On the other hand, Japan has the upper-hand in the midfield and on the back line. Japan also has FIFA’s world player of the year, Homare Sawa. As for the U.S. team, they still have the dependable Morgan who is sure to score a goal if the match goes overtime.
The soccer final will see the top two teams competing and that ensures a great day for the spectators at the Wembley Stadium. This is a must watch game that’s too difficult to interpret just yet.
Where: Wembley Stadium, London, England
When: Thursday, August 9, 2:45 p.m. EST
Live Stream: NBC Olympics
T.V. Coverage: NBC Olympics TV Listings