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Japan, United States advance to 2011 World Cup final: A fan’s view
History will be made in the 2011 Women's World Cup final no matter which team wins the match. No team in the previous five World Cups has ever lost their final group stage match and gone on to win the World Cup. On July 17, either Japan or the United States is going to be the first team to accomplish that feat. Japan lost to England in the final Group B match but bounced back with a 1-0 win over Germany in the quarterfinal. It advanced to the final with a semifinal victory over Sweden. The USA lost to Sweden 2-1 in the final Group C match but defeated Brazil on penalty kicks in the quarterfinal and defeated France in the semifinal.
One thing that is certain about the final is that we should see goals scored. Japan has scored 10 goals in the tournament while the United States has also found the back of the net 10 times. Japan captain Homare Sawa is tied with Brazil's Marta for the Golden Boot lead with four goals scored. USA's Abby Wambach is right behind Sawa and Marta with three goals. Japan has had six different goal-scorers while the USA has had seven players score a goal.
Japan's path to the final began in Group B. It defeated New Zealand 2-1 courtesy of a free-kick goal in the 68th minute then blew out Mexico 4-0 before getting thoroughly outplayed by England in a 2-0 loss. Japan finished second in the group behind England and had to play back-to-back World Cup champion Germany in the quarterfinal. Japan produced the shock of the tournament in its 1-0 win over Germany in extra time. It outclassed Sweden 3-1 in the semifinal July 13.
The United States won its first two Group C games over North Korea and Colombia by scores of 2-0 and 3-0, respectively. All it had to do to win the group in its final game was draw with Sweden, but instead the team lost to draw Brazil in the quarterfinal. Abby Wambach scored with almost no time remaining in extra time to send the match to send it to penalty kicks. The USA won in the penalty shootout and then beat France 3-1 in the semifinal.
Japan will play the United States in the final July 17 in Frankfurt, Germany.
As an American soccer fan, I'm thrilled that our side is back in the final and can't wait for the match.
More from Patrick Johnston:
Patrick Johnston, "Quarterfinal losses open door for World Cup history", Sports.yahoo.com
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