Homare Sawa of the Japan women's soccer team
The U.S. women's soccer team lost the World Cup final to Japan, captained by Homare Sawa (pictured). Photo Credit: thewomensgame/Wikimedia Commons/CC-BY-SA

The spirited United States national women’s soccer team captured worldwide attention as the squad made a run for the Women’s World Cup final. However, Japanese team outplayed the American team in a shootout in extra time.

Shootout in extra time seals victory

For the past few weeks, the American team in the women’s soccer World Cup created a huge amount of buzz. The team scored a victory over the Brazilian team in the quarter finals and beat France in the semi-finals, booking a place in the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup final against Japan. It was the third time that the U.S. team has appeared in the World Cup final, having won the inaugural World Cup in 1991 and again in 1999, according to Wikipedia. The Japan women’s national soccer team won the game in a shootout, according to USA Today. The game was tied after overtime, then the Japanese team successfully sent three shots into the net, and the American women only managed to put in one.

Victory lifts spirits of disaster ravaged nation

Many people felt that the underdog Japanese team deserved the victory to lift spirits in Japan, after natural disasters ravaged the nation earlier this year. According to The Guardian, U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo said she was happy for the Japan team, and she felt that “something bigger” was working in their favor. Japan, according to the Telegraph, has lost 22 out of the 25 previous matches that the national women’s team has played against the Americans and was considered a dark horse in the elimination rounds of the tournament. This is the first time an Asian nation has won the Women’s World Cup final. China came close in 1999, when the Chinese team lost by one point in a shootout with the United States team.

Defeat of a powerhouse

The American national women’s soccer team is one of the best in the world. Germany is the only other country that has captured two world cup victories. The national men’s team has yet to advance further than the quarter finals in an FIFA World Cup, but the United States does not have the kind of professional soccer infrastructure that other nations have had for decades, though Major League Soccer is becoming more popular as a spectator sport. Another American national sports team is currently gearing up for a world cup tournament. The United States rugby team is going to the 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand in September, according to Yahoo Sports. However, the American men’s rugby team is not likely to be as successful as the women’s soccer team. The U.S. rugby team has managed to win only two games in five World Cup tournaments.

Sources

USA Today: http://www.usatoday.com/sports/soccer/worldcup/2011-07-17-usa-japan-world-cup-final_n.htm

The Guardian: http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2011/jul/18/hope-solo-japan-usa-final

The Telegraph: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/football/international/8644217/Japan-beat-USA-on-penalties-to-win-the-womens-World-Cup.html

Wikipedia on US Women’s soccer team: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_women%27s_national_soccer_team

Yahoo Sports UK: http://uk.eurosport.yahoo.com/15072011/58/world-cup-team-guide-usa.html

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