Jelani Scott | Sports Editor
Fresh off the heels of annual 4th of July celebrations nationwide, a win by the U.S. Women’s National Team against their archrival, Japan, on Sunday night would have been a great red, white and blue cherry on top of a great weekend. And, thanks to a superb effort from the entire team and Final MVP midfielder Carli Lloyd, the U.S. delivered in a dominant 5-2 victory to win the championship.
The U.S. got off to a hot start, scoring four goals in the first 16 minutes of play. Lloyd, who also finished as the tournament’s top goal scorer and top player, scored three of those goals and got her name amongst the list of historic achievements this match will be known for. The 32-year old New Jersey native earned the fastest hat trick in World Cup history and her goal at the 3 minute mark gave her the record for fastest goal ever scored in a Women’s World Cup Final.
Team USA was up 4-0 by the time Japan’s striker Yūki Ōgimi scored their first goal at the 27th minute mark and U.S. defender Julie Johnston scored an accidental own goal at the 52-minute mark. U.S. midfielder Tobin Heath earned the distinction of scoring the tournament’s final goal when she scored at the 54-minute mark to effectively put a bow on top of America’s shiny new trophy.
The seven total goals were the most in Women’s World Cup Final history and is tied with the men’s 1958 FIFA World Cup Final for the record for most goals in any men’s or women’s World Cup Final. When asked about the amazing and unforgettable match on “CBS This Morning” on Monday, Lloyd poetically said, “It was just an epic win and we created history.”
Lloyd’s comment accurately sum this entire 4-year journey for the team as they won their first title in sixteen years and became the first team to win three Women’s World Cup finals. It’s also worth noting that both teams were undefeated throughout the tournament, with the United States only surrendering one goal in the six matches leading up to Sunday night.
The 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup Final had all the right elements to capture even the most casual fan’s attention. It marked the third time the two squads had met in a major tournament in the last four years. The teams faced off in the 2011 World Cup Final where Japan stunned the U.S. (and the world) to claim the championship after over 120 minutes of playing time.
Tied at 1-1, the teams had to play an extra 30 minutes following the 90 minutes in regulation; a feat that occurred for just the fourth time in six Women’s World Cup Finals. After both teams scored a goal apiece and the extra period had ended, the tournament’s winner was to be decided in penalty kicks, in which Japan outscored the U.S., 3-1, to win it all. The teams faced again in the 2012 Summer Olympics with Team USA exacting revenge in the form of a 2-1 gold medal victory.
Sunday’s rubber match didn’t disappoint for U.S. fans but it seemingly put an end to the remarkable run Japan had been on since 2011 that saw them win the World Cup, place 2nd in the Summer Olympics, and win the 2014 AFC Women’s Asian Cup, becoming the first Asian team to win two major tournaments. Currently ranked in the Top-5 in the world, it remains to be see where both clubs go from here but, at least for next four years, the U.S. can enjoy their bragging rights and their claim to the throne as the best team in the World.