USA gives up lead twice, loses to Japan in penalties in WWC final

Japan USA 1 (Getty Images)



The feel-good story that was the U.S. women's national team at the World Cup has come to a close, and it does so without the fairy-tale ending.

The U.S. team lost in the World Cup final on Sunday, falling to Japan 3-1 on penalty kicks after playing to a 2-2 draw. The win gave Japan its first ever World Cup trophy.

Shannon Boxx, Carli Lloyd and Tobin Heath all missed their penalties in a game that saw the United States waste multiple opportunities and a pair of leads.

The Americans started the game strong, created most of the scoring chances, and looked ready for World Cup glory, but an inability to capitalize allowed Japan to equalize late on two separate occasions.

Alex Morgan, who entered the game at halftime, gave the Americans the lead with a left-footed finish in the 69th minute. Japan found an equalizer in the 81st, however, after a poor defensive clearance. The United States went ahead again in extra time off an Abby Wambach header in the 104th minute, but that was cancelled out when Homare Sawa flicked in a corner kick four minutes from the final whistle to force penalties.

Here are the match highlights in case you missed the game:



What do you think of the USA losing to Japan on penalty kicks? Surprised more by the Americans' penalty kick performance or their inability to close out the game?

Share your thoughts below.

This entry was posted in 2011 Women's World Cup, International Soccer. Bookmark the permalink.

145 Responses to USA gives up lead twice, loses to Japan in penalties in WWC final

  1. Plex the Robot says:

    The US squandered too many opportunities and they deserved to loose. Brazil failed to put the US away last week and now the US suffered the same fate.

  2. J Dog says:

    Sad, but expected.
    We didn’t use one of subs, could have had amy rodriguez take a penalty.

    We didn’t effectively kill time, leaving lots of space in the back.

    Most importantly, we lost our most skilled player, Lauren Cheney and we didn’t have a replacement.

    BTW – I would have switched up the PK takers after Brazil, would have liked to have seen a little variety, we all remembered Boxx went right and she went right, starting us down a path to defeat

  3. Kevin says:

    I think the U.S. was still reeling from a bit of shell shock after the late Japan goal in extra-time, and it affected their kicks…I also think Japan studied the U.S.-Brazil tape, and their goalkeeper knew where to go…especially with Boxx’s first miss. The lost stings, but can’t ask for any more with the tough, grueling wins the U.S. had to muster to get to the final.

    And U.S. athletes: Watch the post-match interviews with Abby Wambach and Hope Solo, and take notes on how to accept defeat with class. Both players, with refreshing honesty, expressed that the worthier team had won. That’s the perfect way to go out when you come up short. I hope women’s soccer gets more attention now. Time to move on from 1999…we have a great system and up-and-coming players in place for London 2012!

  4. ChrisTheLSUTiger says:

    Our defense really failed us in the end. And our passing looked weak. That’s all.

  5. Erik says:

    It’s painful being a US Soccer fan of any variety. 4 finals lost in 2 years…

    Can’t miss so any chances though and when you rush your spot kicks you will lose.

  6. Tony in Quakeland says:

    Karli Lloyd complained “We’re tired of hearing about 99. We’re righting our own story.” Yeah, that story is called “Choker” – and that is specifically meant for LLoyd.

    Overall, we gave away the game with poor finishing, poor defending, assuming that the game was over once we scored and horrible, horrible PK taking.

  7. jonk says:

    Tough way to lose after being the better team, bossing the midfield, and playing with lots of possession. And it’s crazy, too, because in the early games the US never looked like deserved World Cup winners.

  8. matt says:

    I disagree: Japan was not worthier. We deserved to LOSE for failing to put our chances and gifting the first tying goal, but Japan did not deserve to WIN since we outplayed them 90% of the game.

    That being said, I was impressed with the overall sportsmanship/class on display. Didn’t see a single foul till like 30 minutes in, and except for Japan’s cynical (but smart) last minute red card, it was a very clean, very honest game.

  9. jonk says:

    A bit harsh on Lloyd, no? Yeah, she skied her kick, but these women did deserve to write their own story. Even during the game, Foudy couldn’t help talking about how amazing it was the Brazil game was on the same date as the ’99 win against China.

  10. jonk says:

    True, but the point is you accept defeat and applaud the other team regardless of whether they were worthy.

  11. Ricky B. Free says:

    They just wanted to continue the US nats trend of choking away a final.

    Congrats to Japan and good luck to all the US women, because I dont think we are going to be hearing of them until the Olympics.

    The US Women showed that they have more skill than the Mens Nats.

    Jozy should attend an Abby and Morgan soccer camp on how to finish and run your butt off.

  12. Kevin says:

    I meant worthier in the context of Solo and Wambach’s comments, who paid much respect to Japan’s resilience, and said they deserved the win.

    I also agree on the clean play…it was just so great to see a game that didn’t fall to the overplayed theatrics in men’s football (and that Brazil match)…

  13. Ricky B. Free says:

    Lloyd gave away the ball most of the time.

    But I liked how the women showed a lot of skill.

    I am still shocked at how Japan scored the goals. Awful defending!!

  14. Ricky B. Free says:

    SO true. They didnt play possession soccer until the final game. They dominated Japan but made 2 stupid mistakes on defense.

  15. syght says:

    Nah, Lloyd deserves the criticism. She was great in midfield but never passed in the final third and skied a ton of ill-advised shots. As soon as she came up for the PK, I was like “noooooooo!” Knew she’d sky it.

    I never would’ve had Boxx, Lloyd and Heath take PKs, but with Rapinoe out and Cheney hurt, maybe we didn’t have better options. I would’ve went Rapinoe – O’Reilly – Morgan – xxxx – Wambach.

  16. hogatroge says:

    Well, at least Mexico won’t be seeing Brazil or Argentina at the Confederations Cup 2013!

  17. Joamiq says:

    This Japan team was the true feel-good story. Congrats to them. The US was the lesser team in the last two games but still won – this is how it feels to be on the other side

  18. Ugh says:

    Buehler? Buehler?

    Never cross the ball across the middle of your six-yard box. Every coach from the u-12 level and up teaches that.

    That is all.

  19. pd says:

    Harsh classless fools… Japan kept battling and stayed patient. Isn’t that enough? These women played their hearts out on both sides of the ball. Sure they had chances to put it away early on, but that’s how the game goes. They deserved our congrats and our support. Sundhage could have gone with other spot kickers, but that’s her call in the end. You whiney armchair coaches are what’s really wrong with us soccer. You wouldn’t know class if it fell on you head.

  20. R says:

    Long live the L.A. Sol – the greatest women’s team of all time!!!

    Camille Abily
    Shannon Boxx
    Stephanie Cox
    Aya Miyama

  21. MicahK says:

    This final was some bull for the USA. can Lloyd not keep a shot down to save her life. Why did USA hit the post a million times. USA seem like they wanted Japan to win. Congratz to Japan USA needs to learn ot to throw away finals like they did today.

  22. BF says:

    Perhaps the lesson has finally been learned for US Soccer? Doubt it!

  23. biff says:

    Yeah, a heartbreaking loss–so many missed opportunities and the defense weakened in regulation to give up the first goal and totally fell apart in the final 10 minutes of extra time. I really think after Abby’s go-ahead goal a fresh defender or two should have been inserted. All that said, reaching the final in the World Cup is a great accomplishment to be proud of and even the best of teams sometimes have trouble finishing on bad days. Japan is a great team that played their little hearts out for national honor, in the process beating tournament favorite and host and hard-hitting Germany, then Sweden and now the US Foxy Babes. You just gotta love the Japanese team–and you gotta love the US team for the epic win against Brazil, the match of the Century, and against the French–two very formidable opponents.

    Pia Sundhage has done a great job with a team that was fractured when she took over, but which she led to a gold medal finish in the Olympics and now the finals in a World Cup that was filled with a lot of good teams, unlike the good old days when most of the ladies teams were bad. I hope she has the wisdom, unlike Bob Bradley after World Cup 2010, to step down and pursue new opportunities in order to make room for a new coach in the next cycle. One cycle is enough. Second cycles almost always turn sour, as we now see happening with the USNMT under Bob Bradley.

  24. Brit says:

    Brazil will still be there. They’re hosts.

  25. D says:

    We lost that game. Japan did not win it.

    The women following the men’s example it seems…

  26. Ricky B. Free says:

    Lol it must be frustrating being the only one in the US with soccer knoledge.

    That was the most entertaining soccer final I have watched in a while.

    Both teams deserved to win. In the end the ones who put the ball in the net won.

  27. Jim says:

    We couldn’t kill the lead because we can’t keep possession of the ball and that starts with coaching at the youth level

  28. Ricky B. Free says:

    Yes Pia deserves a lot fo credit. She brought this team together and has had good results.

    She could continue with the WNT if she ads new players. but if she starts playing favorites she will fail like a certain MNT coach.

    YOu should read a SportsIllustrated column. Andrea canales wrote the column and shows what is going on inside the MNT locker room.

    Bradley lost the locker room when he started letting Michael get away with a lot of stuff.

  29. hogatroge says:

    Ah yes, I forgot that bit. Brazil lucks out in that regard, and should Mexico get to face them, so do they.

  30. wilyboy says:

    Shannon Boxx and Carli Lloyd have been underwhelming this entire tournament. Perhaps it is fitting that their stagnation should be exposed in PK form.

    I might sound bitter, but it just seemed Rapinoe, Wambach, Cheney, O’Reilly, and later Alex Morgan were playing with very little support from the midfield pair. Particularly frustrating how many selfish shots were taken by Lloyd; good players realize when it’s not their day, and distribute to their more in form comrades.

    At any rate, the team was still very worthy of the trophy, as was Japan. There’s no law saying they had to be here, they made it happen, and saw it through to the end. Well done.

  31. Thor says:

    Ididn’t think we were the lesser team against Brazil

  32. AB says:

    If this were the men’s team, you’d be calling it what it is: the biggest choke in American international sporting history. Instead, you’re breaking out the orange wedges. Terrible performance by the Nats, and it probably signals the death knell for WPS. Very rarely do you get to see an entire sport die for a country in ten minutes, but you saw it today. Women’s soccer is done here.

  33. rorschach says:

    at least i don’t have to hear from the cheerleader foudy for a while. she’s the best ex-american player announcer and she still grates on me. lloyd was horrid. she had 4 shots during the game that were into the upper deck and then did the same for her penalty. i don’t know why sundhage put her out there for it.

  34. joel says:

    heart broken

  35. Brokenbil says:

    That’s such bullsh*t, dude. If anything, this World Cup has elevated the status of women’s soccer in this country. A recent article in the Boston Globe reported that Boston Breakers ticket sales have increased 400% during the World Cup. Those fans aren’t going to abandon WPS just because the USWNT lost the final. Admit it, AB, you’ve never been a fan of women’s soccer. You’re just a bandwagoner who’s quick to jump off when the home team loses.

  36. Onoda says:

    or, we lost it and Japan won it…

  37. pat says:

    Oh well, now they can go back to their day jobs of cooking, cleaning and folding laundry.

  38. TimN says:

    Soccer can be a cruel game sometimes. So many times I’ve watched a team dominate a game and lose. The U.S. controlled much of this game, but a couple of defensive lapses and poor finishing cost them..the “soccer gods” weren’t smiling on the U.S. today.

  39. BF says:

    being big and physical just doesn’t cut it anymore for USWNT, today proved that. Just another reason why this country needs to develop a national style of play.

  40. Onoda says:

    come on, dude, really?

  41. Ricky B. Free says:

    Beautiful game. There was no thug tackling, no ref intimidation, the diving was toned down a lot.

    I watched the US vs Japan game instead of Brazil vs Paraguay and thats saying something.

    WWC Final toped the Uefa Champions League final, Mens World Cup Final and the Coma America is a snoozer.

  42. Adicts says:


    copa america has been great so far.
    exciting games. the parity is awesome, and as a neutral i’ve enjoyed most games.

  43. marden08 says:

    i think that AB is right. This has been a horrible year for US Soccer.You can get over geting beaten or getting cheated. The crulest defeat, the one that will haunt you for the rest of your life, is the one that you gave away. The ladies had the game won twice and they gave it away twice. This game should never have gone to shootouts. they were beaten before the shootout because in their hearts they knew they had given it way.

  44. Ricky B. Free says:

    Coma America has had 2 or 3 decent games. Paraguay came out today playing for a 0-0 draw and hope to win it in Pk´s. Yesterday´s Argentina game was exciting from time to time.

    Teams in the WWC came out to win, not to draw the games 0-0.Brazil attacked, Germany, Sweden, Japan, U.S.A.

    But its cool, different tastes in soccer.

  45. maka says:

    Read the article again. She never actually says that. She claims that under the circumstances, it is possible. All she can say is that a father and son shouldn’t be on the same team and that Berhalter says that players notice things. Never once does she say that Bradley has lost the locker room.

  46. Brokenbil says:

    And you can go back to your bedroom to wait for your mommy to tuck you in.

  47. BigBlueAL says:

    This weekend has given me a much greater appreciation for Landon Donovan and his PK prowess especially with the national team.

    Also I cant get enough of Alex Morgan lol.

  48. Brokenbil says:

    It doesn’t mean that women’s soccer has died in America.

  49. jlm says:


    Washington Freedom 2003

    Mia Hamm
    Abby Wambach
    Siri Mullinix
    Lori Lindsey
    Jen Grubb
    Carrie Moore

  50. marden08 says:

    You are probably right. But this will not help.

  51. Onoda says:

    American fans just need to stop being fickle little bitches and support their team through thick and thin.

  52. Kevin Smith says:

    US Fairy tale run and feel good story? Sorry, but the US were expected to do this well, so not really a fairy tale. Despite being the last team to qualify, they were still a strong team and everyone thought they would challenge for the title.

    No, the fairy tale with the feel good story was actually completed with Japan’s win. Coming back from the tsunami disaster to have a fantastic (and shocking) run through to become the world champions. Congrats to the Japanese, who truly deserve it

  53. R says:

    trolls > pat

  54. wilyboy says:

    What kind of reaction were you expecting? If you wanted to be an irritable, misogynistic brat, congrats. But if you thought this was a funny, man, seek help.

  55. Dale Keiger says:

    I remind you that Roberto Baggio, a sublime player among the most skilled I’ve ever seen, skied a corner kick in a World Cup final, costing Italy the cup. PKs are much, much harder than they look.

  56. DingDong says:

    What’s the lesson?

  57. Michael Stypulkoski says:

    Tough loss, but congratulations to Japan. If we had to lose the final, I’d much rather lose it to a country that plays the game the right way, with style and class, than to a couple other teams which shall remain nameless. I feel for Wambach, hopefully she’ll still be around in four years – it just wouldn’t feel right if she retires without a WC win on her resume.

  58. jim says:

    If you know soccer you could see this coming…we rely on strength, speed and size. At best we play “partial possession” which is make a few passes and then panic kick.

    We are outstanding in pattern play in the box and we are faster,stronger and bigger than the other teams

    This all started 25-30 years ago with the philosophy of Dorrance and Diccio, two major frauds

    Sure Anson has won big at the college level but the guru of women’s soccer and all of his diciples have taught a game without emphasis on skill or how to play the game the right way. Diccio is just as bad

    Neither guy could coach a men’s team even at the college level and that is why they sought the women’s game…so they could be “guru’s” and make a lot of money.

    And today we suffered the fruits of almost 3 decades of their coaching….a team that did not have the ability to keep possession of the ball with a 2-1 lead and kill off the game.

    Thanks guys, go make more money selling tapse and books

  59. biff says:

    That is true, but in another article shortly after the Gold Cup a respected writer for one of the San Diego newspapers said just that, that BB “has lost the locker room,” quoting a source close to the team saying, “The players are miserable.” (Article can be easily found in an Internet search.) That article and now the one by SI are about the only two by major outlets that are being honest about the simmering problems on the USMNT. The SI article is devastating–a must read for true fans of US Soccer.

    I am waiting for someone to finally write an in depth article exploring why BB for the first time in years did not start his son in the June 4 friendly against Spain, but sends out Jones and Edu with the B-team to be sacrificed to the best team in the world. And, lo and behold, after the massacre by Spain, Edu does not get another start in the Gold Cup, in fact, only played a few minutes while MB played all but six minutes.

  60. Jose says:

    Give it up to Japan for following through. Congratulations to Japan. The US did very well in this tournament and the ladies should hold their heads proud.

  61. Broseph says:

    They may have deserved to lose, but I’m not sure if they deserved to loose.

  62. Paula says:

    I’m sure there will be no shortage of armchair athletes complaining about a “choke job” who, when put in same position, could have TOTALLY defended better/scored more than the USWNT today.

    Credit to Japan for having the presence of mind to not give up when falling behind.

    Credit to the USWNT for getting themselves to final, and possessing the ball more, and playing the best match they have played the entire tourney.

  63. yo says:

    Fire BB, it will feel better!

  64. brian says:

    This is a reply to most above, not just Jim. Loved watching this game with my young son because you could see how hard the team worked for each other. Also, loved the skill Morgan showed for her goal and assist, not many on men’s team could have accomplished so much. Overall, glad to have this group represent the red, white and blue. Looking forward to more WWC’s.

  65. The Comedian says:

    Foudy is terrible. Always will be terrible. From FIFA 98 to todays game.

  66. agnigrin says:


  67. jim says:


    Nice comments but we are 5 times better than Japan and if our players were coached the right way Japan could not have even touched the ball.

    Japan has 25,000 registered women players. We have that number just in Pennsylvania.

    Poor coaching (not Pia) caused this problem

    The coaches who got us to the top (when really no one else took the sport seriously) are responsible for bringing us down.

    The sad part is that most people are too blind to see this.

  68. radi0ead says:


  69. Paula says:

    Well gee, thanks for proving my point. And so quickly, too.

  70. tony says:

    all the favorites in this weekend of soccer have fallen, this is just crazy. Congrats to Japan for their moral victory.

  71. jim says:

    Not sure I get your response Paula.

    Your first post was this ‘feel good’ statement about how we possessed the ball so well.

    My point is that with smarter players (real soccer players) we should have beaten Japan 3-0

    Let’s call it the way it is …Japan is not very good and we gave them the game.

    And for Yo…if you think firing BB is going to make the difference you need to put your crack pipe down

    But we are not talking men’s soccer today

    Well Paula, are you taking a stand or giving another infomercial for soccer in the US

  72. PetedeLA says:

    Good points.

    Like you, I sorely missed Cheney. For me, she was the best “player” (not goal keeper, not scorer) on the team.

    Sometimes it looked like a case of too many chiefs, and not enough Indians. I think back to that free kick moment just outside the box. What the devil were they talking about? I’d understand if it was Alex Morgan (the only leftie in the squad) discussing whether or not she should take it, but it was Boxxy, Lloyd, and Rampone (if I’m not mistaken). Who was the boss?

    I also agree with the wrong subs. Up until this point Pia had the midas touch with her subs, but I think she made a mistake by starting Rapinoe. I also didn’t get why A-Rod didn’t start. Of course, she had been having a horrible World Cup as far as scoring goes, but she still did a job of spreading the defense, and she never seemed to lose confidence. (Btw– what the heck was Tobin Heath supposed to be doing? If her “job” was to maintain possession she failed miserably!)

    Ali Krieger (who I’m in love with, by the way) had a bad game, but we can talk about individual performances all day.

    For me the salient point was that Japan played like more of a team. Better luck in 4 years.

  73. supergrandefilms says:

    Japan was worthy… they never gave up. Great team effort…!! Congrats to them.

  74. Jao says:

    I was thinking this after watching France lose to the US in the semis

  75. Alex G says:

    Its heartbreaking but I want to congratule Japan, they never give up, the US played better but well, thats soccer, the MNT should learn

  76. phd says:

    Maybe Lloyd should tryout for the French women’s team! She’d fit right in with her shot selection and placement (in the stands).

  77. biabia1305 says:

    The beginning of my soccer obsession. Loved that 94 World Cup.

  78. John says:

    the defense as a whole had a bad game. i don’t and won’t understand the rampone bandwagon. this game, of all games, needed an experienced leader to calm the play. multiple times, including goal in reg, it was her blindly clearing the ball – straight up the center of the pitch and right to a japanese player – which left us struggling.

    Sundhage best attributes, devotion to certain players and positive attitude, turned into a weakness this game. Llyod played better but no where near good enough. she was clearly tired… no lindsey?

    i’m a huge sundhage supporter. truely. but she didn’t cut it this game. however, if she’s willing to learn (and change up the starters – drop lloyd and rampone, bring in suarbrunn) and adjust… then another cycle is justified. otherwise, if she thinks these players are “enough” — gulati needs to move on.

  79. marco says:

    Someone needed to show some leadership on the pitch especially with the 2-1 lead and only minutes to play. I don’t know who the captains are but they needed to step up, and calm things down.
    In those last minutes, the USA played like they were down a goal, hurrying everything, running helter- skelter and into each other. Team-mates were tackling each other. There was one harmless ball driven toward USA goal where, without one Japan player contesting, two defenders and Solo all converged at once to make a hash of it. Cat got your tongue Hope? Poor finishing in the first few minutes and poor leadership in the last few done them in. Congratulations to both sides for a great game.

  80. lprevoltion says:

    Its not wrong with soccer. Its the fact that we are rooting for americans that are not, by any means, our top athletes. And, that sucks, and its what’s wrong with soccer.

    Some of us have high expectations. What’s wrong with that?

  81. Swifty says:

    Possibly the best comment ive read on any sbi thread. Also, you would really change the pk lineup that just converted every one of its pks the last game, ppl? Unless a taker goes the same way every time they do a pk, u shud keep the same ppl bc every kick is different. Donovan takes tons of pks for club and country and hardly ever misses. Rule: use the best pk takers available to u over and over again. Sundhage understands basics like this, thats y shes the national team coach.

  82. Rich says:

    Sorry but everyone has their own opinion. I think Foudy is terrific. She certainly knows the game and gives lots of insight. She speaks well and has a sense of humor. She also is still close enough to the team and players to give a human touch to the broadcast. And her analysis of the game is right on. Last of all, Carli Lloyd played today just as she did for the Red Stars. Hopefully this is her last game for the WNT.

  83. jim says:


    The USMNT lost to a fabulously skilled Mexican team

    The USWNT lost to an undersized Japan team that could not get out of their own way, managed maybe 3 shots on goal but found a way to beat our “chicken without a head” women’s team.

    We should have won that game 3-0

    I sure hope you are not counting on a career as an analyst for Fox Soccer Channel.

  84. phd says:

    Your comment is so passe. Maybe try to think of something more original?

  85. Rich says:

    My first thoughts during the post-game interviews with Abby & Hope were “That’s real class”. All athletes and fans can learn a lesson from them on sportsmanship and losing with dignity. My respect for them has gone through the roof. What a great example for youngsters!!

  86. JoeW says:

    1. Congratulations to both teams. Japan deserved to win. Yes, our defense let us down horribly both times. But you still need to finish and Japan did. Additionally, when you fail to finish as badly as the US did this match (especially early when we were dominating the match in possession and chances), you deserve whatever happens.

    2. Here’s what I think the real lesson for this WC is: women’s soccer is getting better and there is far more parity. The US needs to look out. I think our 2011 team is better than the 1999 team (in terms of technical ability, playing skill, athleticism). But we ended up winning not by really outplaying teams but more by heart and experience and organization–benefits of a women’s program that is the envy of most other nations (in terms of those attributes). As more nations (like Japan and France) continue to build soccer, I think we’re going to get left behind. We’re too dependent upon women’s college soccer for our talent and all the arguments with regard to the MNT apply doubly so for the women (b/c you don’t have a female Donovan or Adu skipping college and going pro).

    3. I think Sundhage has made big improvements in the team. Remember, under Ryan and Heinrichs, the rep of this team was that we couldn’t score in the run of play. Now women’s soccer is better and our technical ability and team play is better. But the gap has closed significantly. Brasil, France, Japan and probably Germany all have better technical ability than the US. How long before we add England, one of the Koreas, maybe China? Also, it’s depressing how North, Central and South America did this WC. USA and Brasil and then (crickets chirping). People expected real possibilities out of Canada and instead they were a physical team without much skill and no depth. Colombia and Mexico–not much to show. I could see the next WC with us possibly being this year’s equivalent of Norway–a side where people talk about how they “used to be good.” The reality is that our side is good, but the overall talent among the women (and other countries) has improved to the point where it’s a challenge for us.

  87. bobo says:

    We don’t have good avenues of development for our women. College doesn’t cut it with its substitution rules and countdown clock. The women don’t have a U17 development program in Bradenton (I wonder why not?). They don’t have the possibility of leaving early like the men and going to Europe because the salaries aren’t big enough. We’re about to lose our pro league and give our players no options after college. So basically if WPS folds which is inevitable unless US Soccer steps in to help (like it did for MLS at the start), the players will have the W League which goes for 3 months.

    Why not make a semi-pro league with divisions in the west, east, middle, or wherever which will survive in the long time (like German Bundesliga). Pay the top players and the others can keep working their jobs or take part time jobs. We need to merge the W League and WPSL into one league and make a tangible, viable, development league.

    The other option is to send our players to play in Germany, Sweden, Japan, France, etc. where they pay decent salaries.

  88. TimN says:

    I’ll preface this by saying that I’m very proud of the WNT. They never folded in this tournament, even when all looked lost. However, the major reason they were defeated today is because once they got the lead, they started playing not to lose instead of continuing to attack. It was ESPECIALLY evident after Wambach’s goal to take the 2-1 lead. They looked very shaky. Just a few moments before Sawa equalised, we were very nearly scored on because Rapinoe and Lloyd had no communication on what should have been a simple clearance…it just seemed like an inevitability that they would concede, and they did.

    Once it was at PK’s, I think we could have made some different choices on kickers. I most definitely would not have sent Boxx. She was lucky to get a retake against Brazil, and just didn’t look confident today stepping to the line. However, hindsight is always 20/20.

    I just feel so bad for some of our players, especially for Wambach. Man, that lady just plays with some determination and resolve. I’m not sure how old she is, or whether it’s reasonable that she’d play in another WWC, but if it is, I surely hope she wins one before she retires.

  89. catenaccio says:

    Yeah, but technique alone doesn’t win soccer matches. Remember Jose Mourinho and Inter Milan? They beat Barcelona in the CL.
    And Holland made the World Cup FInal with VanBommel and DeJong. Italy won the WC in ’06 and were not the prototype of possession.

    FYI: China was once a women’s soccer powerhouse. You can add them to the list of “used to be good” like Norway. And Sundhage was an assistant coach there before she came to the US.

    It will be a long time before England will be a soccer power. The majority of the populace still views women’s soccer as a joke. When Kelly Smith retires, they are in deep trouble and American soccer made her what she is.

    And Homare Sawa (the Golden Ball Winner) has played in the USA since WUSA days, so the USA helped develop her, too.

    If we are so bad, why do all these players come over here to play?

  90. K. Bowen says:

    I think Pia made the same mistake twice. The US was winning in midfield when they were pressuring. After each goal they went into the prevent defense and surrendered possession to a technically superior side.

    In textbook terms, this might have been the right call. Against Japan it was a losing strategy. They couldn’t do anything too dangerous when we were pressing. When we gave them time, that changed drastically.

  91. DaveW says:

    I don’t understand what you mean by cynical…the Japanese player read the situation and committed a professional foul, making sure it was outside the box, to avoid giving up a 1v1 with the keeper. She did the right thing to up the odds her team would stay tied rather than go down a goal.

  92. marden08 says:

    -2 There is a subset of US soccer fans who think cumbaya, the sun will come up tommorow, and that all some people think about is dirty little winning. There is a reason they keep score. The ladies and everyone who cares about them are hurting today. I would never throw one of the players under the bus or call them losers. But today they gave one away. I will get over it in three or four days. for the ladies it will take longer if ever. They put on a good face after the game but they have to be hurting and I am hurting with them.

  93. JW says:

    There was once a rabbit who was happened upon by the finest coursing hound in the land. No matter how hard the dog ran, the rabbit turned and ran faster. After the hound had given up, a chipmunk came up to the rabbit and asked, “How did you outrun the fastest of the dogs?” Replied the rabbit, “He was running for a snack, I was running for my life!” Motivation affects performance.

  94. Stephen says:

    She probably said that they were “writing” their own story. Also, I thought she did well to keep possession a good deal today. She should have passed he ball a few times, I thought, but wasn’t the worst player on the field.

  95. BK says:

    This is an interesting take about what it will take for soccer to “make it,” as the author puts it, in America: link to

  96. Wm. says:

    Thanks for that dose of reality, Dale Keiger. I suspect that the critics of those who miss penalty kicks after extra time—after two hours of running and concentration at the highest level—have never actually played the game.

  97. Stephen says:

    Yeah, a simple touch back to Solo would have done the trick. Krieger was not expecting that. I was frustrated with her all game. She booms the ball up field in times when we needed to keep possession. I don’t understand why Sauerbraun(sp?) was replaced after playing so well against France, I thought she was much better than Buehler had been throughout the tournament.

  98. Stephen says:

    That wasn’t the same PK lineup. Rapinoe wasn’t in there. Heath, who had taken maybe 10 touches on the ball all tournament was in there to replace Rapinoe. That’s my only question mark. Why not O’Reilly? or Morgan (we know she can finish)? But otherwise, I agree. Loved the original comment. Both teams played well, and deserved to win probably the best game I’ve seen in a while, men or women.

  99. Stephen says:

    Yeah. What lesson?

  100. Stephen says:

    Um, Edu’s not that good.

  101. Stephen says:

    Also, did you see the special on SportsCenter about the make a wish foundation? Even more respect for the dude now.

  102. Stephen says:

    Moral victory? Methinks you need to look that up.

  103. Ricky B. Free says:

    What you wrote can be applied to most things in life. Thanks for sharing this.

    I guess thats why poor kids that become boxers or soccer players most of the time are better than kids that only play the sport to have fun. Those kids play it because thats their only way out.

  104. Stephen says:

    No problems with any players on the pitch today. My two questions are personnel related. Tobin Heath took a PK…WHY?!? She has had maybe 10 touches all tournament and hasn’t played more than 10 minutes in each game and takes a PK? Why not O’Reilly or Morgan? I understand the substitution for Rapinoe, sort of, but there were others on the pitch that could have taken a PK. Or at least Heath could have gone first…a little less pressure, not much, but a little, in that position. She went third and after the first 2 missed she had to make it and didn’t.

    Also, why was Buehler in there? We were so much better in defense when Sauerbraun was playing against France. She is much better in possession, much calmer on the ball and faster.

    Overall, it was a great game, and both teams played their hearts out. Congrats to them both for a well played game and tournament.

  105. Dennis says:

    The article by Canales does not report on ANY bad feeling by any of the players. It merely says, rightly, that Michael Bradley is a little too intense off the field.

    I have never heard someone who played for Bob Bradley say bad things about him. I imagine some might not think he is god, but so far as I can tell they all like and respect him. So how might one find this SanDIego newspaper article upon which you hang so much weight. A simple google search turned up nothing.

    Were you not watching the Spain game? Yours is a very odd take on which players performed better.

  106. Stephen says:

    Um, Anson Dorrance did coach men’s teams.

  107. PetedeLA says:

    Don’t know why people feel the need to hate on these great players.

    Sure Carli made some mistakes, and is maybe not the player she thinks she is.

    However, that girl can play soccer. The men do NOT have her equivalent.

    For a big girl who can play good defense when she wants to, she has very good skill.

    Let’s keep in mind that until the final, the girl’s had been playing horribly possession soccer. All at once (in the FINAL) they figured out it’s actually better to hold the ball then to chase it the whole darned game.

    But Japan had been doing that the whole tournament.

    I still maintain… the US showed moments of team work, but Japan was the better team.

    It still irked me that Alex Morgan was wearing a pink sports bra. She played well, but that just stuck out to me as a sign of the individualistic tendencies of some players on this team.

    In other words, they showed lots of heart, but, for me, not enough unity.

  108. Ricky B. Free says:

    A NT member is not going to come out and say to the media that he is not happy with the coach, when he has to ride the bus with the coaches son.

    People should just read the article and people will get different points of view. I am not saying fire bob Bradley, I am just saying that something is not right inside that locker room.

    Maybe Bob will get rid of someone if they are not happy with him or his son. I am ok with that because he is the coach and he makes the roster decisions.

  109. Ricky B. Free says:

    You forgot to mention what brand of sportsbra they were wearing.

  110. Joseph D'Hippolito says:

    I would love to know why so few people give Japan credit. Because they had never beaten the U.S. before? What rubbish! The Japanese were technically superior. They have developed a passing attack that the Americans have yet to embrace. Their goalkeeper had a superb game. They defeated two other more physical teams, Sweden and Germany (the two-time defending champions).

    Don’t buy this garbage that the United States lost to an inferior team. The U.S. was out-played in three consecutive games until the final. If anything, the U.S. was the inferior team…not because of the final score but because no world-class team would commit such a defensive fustercluck that led to the first tying goal.

    The U.S. was living on borrowed time. Today, it caught up w/them.

  111. R says:

    + 1

    P.S. – I love your soccer articles; keep up the good work.

  112. Rev up those Revs says:

    I counted two times the defense tried to clear the ball across the face of goal. The first time was on the first goal, (should have let the ball go through). The second was when the two defenders ran into each other. The defender who tried to clear out of bounds was on the ground looked at the defender who tried to clear across the face of goal like “what the KCUF are you doing?!?!?!!?!?!”

    So what I’m saying is the US defense failed to execute basic defensive tactics and failed to communicate well leading to chaos at times. That coupled with all the missed opportunities early on kept Japan into the game mentally.

  113. nate says:

    and, while her teammates were still (understandably) standing around in shock, wambach was shaking hands with the japanese players.

  114. nate says:

    not to mention ian darke. ugh. i’d still take foudy over the moronic commentary of john harkes. foudy should spend the next four years figuring out how long a soccer match lasts.

  115. Leo says:


    can’t wait to go support our Women at the nearest WPS game – gotta support WPS, develop fan base, keep revenues coming in, league can grow, more money to attract more talent, and heck, just cuz Abby says so “I can’t tell you how important to have that 12th man.”

  116. masterfully done says:

    Sorry Pia, you get the axe.

  117. biff says:

    for some odd reason, Ives does not allow links. On a normal Internet search (not a news search), use the key words “bob bradley san diego lost the locker room” and it should be the top item. The story ran June 28.

  118. biff says:

    The German ladies team, knocked out by Japan in the quarter-final, was at the WC2011 final sitting together, as was German ladies coach Sylvia Neid, who did not sit with her players. After both Japan goals, German TV showed shots of the German coach and players going crazy, cheering and high-fiving as if the German team was beating Japan. Was sort of irritating, and in German online forums some Germans were criticizing German coach/players for the public spectacle against the USNWT. I cannot imagine the US ladies or coach doing same. During the penalty kicks, German TV kept the camera off the German coach/players. I imagine German TV management knew how bad it looked and ordered the blackout. Anyway, I would advise US Soccer to get the video of the German coach and team cheering against the USA and use it as an inspirational film for the next time the USWNT (or, hopefully, the USMNT) meets a German team in a big match.

  119. rorschach says:

    heh. right about the time. harkes is the absolute worst, quickly followed by wynalda and lalas. foudy does understand the game, but her super-enthusiastic delivery is hard for me to swallow.

  120. Roy says:

    I was surprised by the US tactics (or lack thereof) after the second go-ahead goal in extra time. Would have thought the team should pull back and defend at that point, yet they appeared to stay in a stubborn formation that left the back 4 exposed continually by Japan’s attack. Coaching error, in my opinion.

  121. PD says:


  122. autonomous1 says:

    I woke up with a major disappointment hangover this morning, as am sure all the players did.

    We win as a nation; we lose as a nation.

    Thank you for he wonderful ride ladies!

  123. PD says:

    You can’t be serious. Are you trying to tell me that other talented athletes in the USA (eg female golfers tennis players basketball players swimmer divers and shot-putters) would make a better squad than this one? That is sheer ignorance. These women are the best at what they do as has been determined by years of practice hard work skill and yes TALENT.

    The USWNT is a POWERHOUSE in the WORLD of women’s soccer and has been since women’s soccer gained any kind of prominence. Japan was the Cinderella story of this world cup.

    You want high standards? How about expecting people to actually know something about a sport they are commenting on about beyond parroting the odd sound bite they pick up from major media outlets.

    Good teams lose. Get over yourself.

  124. PD says:

    excellent point. but in truth the game was lost before it went to penalities. IMO.

  125. Dennis says:

    I read the article, thanks for the “link”, yes, Ives does not allow posted links.
    There is no where in the article that says players are unhappy with Bradley. The closest it comes to that is to say they were miserable after the Mexico loss (no surprise, I was too) and some vague innuendo with no statements even close to being specific.
    The other points are OK, but like most griping, a real plan is not there:

    What better coach would actually want to coach? the USA the only ones Gulati tried essentially turned him down.

    Parents control what kids do, not US Soccer, all US Soccer can do is make suggestions and the parents will continue to ignore them.

    US Soccer does not control College soccer and the NCAA has made it very clear that it never will Ione reason Bradley left college coaching).

    Sure the kids who have passion for soccer are more likely to be found in the ethnic communities (from before Claudio Reyna was a star HS player, this has been true and every coach at every level knows it). Presently some players are missed in the identification, the only way that will change is when youth teams are run by professional teams rather than by parents who have a whole different agenda. (Who controls the purse strings influences which players get selected.)

  126. Brett says:

    This is the same Japan team that knocked out the host Germany, a team in much better form than we were going into the tournament. The same Japan team that beat Sweden, the team that beat us in the group stage.

    The US team absolutely made errors that allowed Japan to stay in the match. No one will deny that. But let’s just leave the bitterness aside and give some credit to a team that took an EXTREMELY tough path to win a tournament that many of their players could not even train for.

    The US played an excellent match but failed to finish. There is no systemic issue. They just lost a match to a team that had better luck in front of goal. I think there is a serious bias affecting responses like this.

  127. Eurosnob says:

    I agree. Morgan is a quality striker and should be a starter. As for possession, I don’t think that possession was what determined the outcome of the game – possession-wise the teams were very close and the US was by far a more threatening side creating numerous chances. The first goal by Japan resulted from a failed clearance by the US team rather than any kind of build up by Japan. The second goal was from a corner kick, which also resulted from a defensive miscommunication. I did not think that Japan created a lot of chances, but they took advantage of most of their opportunities. Not to take anything way from Japan’s victory, but it looked to me that Japan was playing for a draw, hoping to get to the penalty kicks.

  128. Brett says:

    I don’t follow. Germany was no longer competitive in the tournament… What matter which country they decide to root for? Perhaps they felt Japan deserved to win. Perhaps they felt Japan needed the reason to cheer as a nation a lot more than the USA. Perhaps they felt a Japan victory justifies Germany’s loss. Should they cheer for no one? If they had video of them cheering the US, would that make Japan upset?

  129. Brett says:

    They actually did try, but Japan’s pressing forced some bad plays. The back 4 became exposed because Japan began to throw numbers forward while we refused to park the bus. We kept going for the 3rd goal, as we should have, and it just backfired on us with a critical error by a single player in the back. Credit Japan for making us pay.

  130. sef-one says:


    Yeah. I was screaming at lloyd on the tv. Pass the damn ball! Ugggh as she tried another hero shot that she shanked horribly.

  131. TimN says:

    I have to disagree with the comments here in regard to Japan “being a tactically superior side” yesterday. Rubbish. As far as possession and midfield play, that was the U.S.’s best game of the tournament. The U.S. dominated much of possession, and created FAR MORE scoring opportunities. Japan was the opportunist, and capitalized on a couple of defensive lapses. That’s the cruelty of soccer however…one team can dominate and still lose. Play that game 10 times and U.S. wins 9. It could have been 4-0 U.S at the half. However, of course that’s not what happened. I think the U.S.’s biggest failure yesterday, ironically, was in their mental toughness to close out the win. Congrats to Japan for not giving up, and showing some of that same American resolve.

  132. J-man 1221 says:


  133. Erin says:

    I was very disapointed. First of all with Cheney out at half, it left our best overall player of the tournament out with injury. Also, we had two leads, just to give them up. I also am displeased by the defense, especially when they had two poor clearances to give up the first lead. I am most unimpressed by Shannon Boxx, Carli Lloyd and Tobin Heath for missing three penalty kicks in a row. I believe that if the USA put in one or two goals from the early opportunities they could have been hoisting up the trophy. From my point of view(a youth soccer players) the courage, determination, effort and resiliency put up by Japan after their country was stricken by the earthquake and tsunami won the World Cup for them.

  134. WPS Fan says:

    Why wasn’t Christen Press, the only Mac Hermann Trophy winner who has never been given a shot to make the roster, on Pia’s radar?

  135. WPS Fan says:

    The Japanese keeper was amazing.

  136. Joamiq says:

    Before the red card, Brazil was dominant

  137. sad fan says:

    Here is a link to members of the German national team cheering a PK miss by Tobin Heath:

    link to

  138. Chosun says:

    Agreed. The women’s team (along with the coverage by ESPN) has really helped elevate the game from what I’ve seen in the US. I’m currently in the midst of a cross-country road trip, and have done my best to watch as many games as possible. Every state I’ve been through (which counts 13 currently) has had people really excited for the event as a whole. In one instance, we went to this little Mexican restaurant in Texas and asked to turn the game on the tv (Mexico vs England). After a little while, a bunch of guys walked in (they all seemed to be laborers), and after a bit of snickering, got really into the game. It was really nice to see, even thought Mexico didn’t win the game. In fact, everyone who came into this little restaurant was focused on the game, with a few people even rearranging their chairs to face the tv.

  139. marco says:

    It was a great tournament. Other than Brazil, the play centered on football and sportsmanship. Someone said not one foul was called in the first 30 minutes, which gave Jose Mourinho a heart attack. Japan deserved their win, beating Germany, Sweden, and the USA in order. Perhaps Jogo Bonito, and Total Soccer will return to the next Mens WC. One can hope.

  140. Alex G says:

    My thoughts exactly, waht in the earth are you doing clearing a ball into the center of the field???, the US loose this game by themselves.

  141. Alex G says:

    iT WAS A TOTAL disaster, the US had it all to win this final, and they didn’t for me its a failure…