The Women’s World Cup Final was one of the best riveting football matches I have ever watched. I once heard someone say that football is the beautiful game because every goal feels like a miracle, but with that beauty comes pain and heartache as the game can also rip your guts out. I dare anyone to watch this match and be bored. It was simply high-drama from start to finish and not with diving theatrics or horrible fouls (i.e. see last year’s Netherlands vs Spain Men’s final), it was exciting because Japan and the United States both played the game of their lives. Next time anyone says football is a boring game, just punch them in the face.
While United States looked the more commanding side for most of the match, Japan capitalized on every chance and every US misstep. Lead by the amazing Homare Sawa (winner of tournament MVP), Japan never gave up and was relentless in its pursuit of goals. They played their game and simply broke the US down when it mattered. They wanted it more. Perhaps, they felt an obligation to a nation that has been through some much. It was reported that Japanese head coach Norio Sasaki showed his players images of the devastation of the Earthquake and tsunami before the match, perhaps to remind them of what was lost, perhaps to remind them that this was just, after all, a game and to play for themselves and for their people.
The United States simply failed to capitalize on chances time and again in the first half and that came back to haunt them. Yet, these ladies have nothing to be ashamed of. Alex Morgan’s goal was a beauty (and being the youngest player in the squad, she will bring us joy for years to come) and Abby Wambach proved she is best at scoring when it matters.
The other big winner here is football .. err.. soccer in America. I hope this translates to more interest (money) in soccer. When played just right, football can be the most thrilling sport on Earth and this game was proof.