This time there were no controversial fouls. There were no penalty kicks.
And this time there wasn’t much of a game.
The United States Women’s National Team won its third World Cup title, its first since 1999, with a dominating win over Japan on Sunday by a score of 5-2. And it wasn’t as close as the score indicated.
The U.S. women came out like they were shot out of a cannon, jumping out to a 4-0 lead after just 16 minutes of play. Carli Lloyd was the hero, recording the fastest hat trick in World Cup history in the process.
Lloyd scored her first two goals off set plays but saved the best for last. She gained control of the ball at midfield, danced around a midfielder and let a missile fly toward the net and helpless goalie Ayumi Kaihori. The Japanese netminder was stuck in the western sun for the first half, and Lloyd had surely thought about the opportunity to take advantage should the situation arise.
Next thing Japan knew, they were down by four goals and, try as they might, they were finished in the 2015 World Cup Final before it ever really began.
The U.S. had flirted with taking early leads throughout the tournament but always came up a tad short. I guess you could say that the dam didn’t hold on Sunday. Lloyd was obviously a huge factor, winning the Golden Ball as the tournament’s best player. All six of her goals in the tournament came in the knockout phase.
Lloyd, 33 years old, shows no signs of slowing down, though she is just two years younger than Abby Wambach, who probably has played in her final World Cup tournament. Wambach got a tremendous ovation when she entered the game late as a substitute.
This World Cup was a huge success for host Canada, as fans poured into stadiums throughout the country in every game, especially the knockout round. This is the first tournament, World Cup or otherwise, since 2003 that was accessible for Americans, and the fans came in droves.
They got what they wanted to see – return to glory for the United States women who have won Olympic gold but came up short in each of the last three World Cups. This was sweet revenge and payback for the U.S., having lost to Japan on penalty kicks in the last final in 2011, played in Germany.
It’s too bad that the World Cup only comes around once every four years. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – this was sports entertainment at its finest, and the type that entire families can get into. I know; my daughter was fixated on every play in every game, and I think my wife might have been more into it than she was.
The next World Cup is scheduled for France in 2019. But the United States womens team isn’t focused on that one quite yet. Certainly the celebration has spilled into this morning in Vancouver and everywhere south of the Canadian border.
And I think Carli Lloyd just scored another goal.