Well, the 2011 Women's World Cup is history. An unexpected result catapulted the Japanese side to victory. Congratulations to them. This is a bright spot for a country still reeling from a devastating earthquake and tsunami.
However, for the number one ranked U.S. team the loss serves as a wake-up call. The U.S. had struggled through the tournament. Sheer will and tenacity allowed them to even be in the finals. They reflected the American never-say-die attitude that, I think, endeared them to the many fans yelling "U.S.A" in the stands. They had overcome the arrogance of the Brazil side in the waning seconds of a quarter final match. It looked as if they were destined to win. I feared that they may have looked at the final match against the Japanese team as a cake walk. After having defeated Japan in earlier matches, this would have been understandable. But, in the World Cup that cannot be assumed. I was pleasantly surprised to see that they took the match seriously and came out swinging. In the first minute they developed a very good scoring opportunity. In fact, for much of the game they could move the ball at will. The U.S. dominated much of the game creating many good scoring opportunities...but they were unable to finish them.
Japan, on the other hand, was patient. They waited for, and found, chinks in the U.S. defense that enabled them to score when they had to. While the U.S. was the stronger side between the end lines, Japan proved resilient enough to push the ball over the goal line.
There will be people who will claim that the better side did not win. To them I say, the last time I checked, the object of the game was to put the ball in the back of the net. The U.S. could not. It doesn't matter how many opportunities are created if they are not finished. This is not to take anything away from the players who left everything on the field. Sometimes the game is not fair. The post or crossbar get in the way. The defense gets confused and the ball winds up in the net. Such are the fortunes of the game. The U.S. team deserves praise for the tournament they played. However, the Japanese team did what was necessary to win. Cudos to them. If the U.S. team had to lose, the Japanese team was the team to lose to.