Only hours remain before the United States and Japan play against each other in their third consecutive major final. Sure to break viewer records as the team that almost never loses takes on the team that both shattered and captured hearts 4 years ago. The two have split the previous meetings, including the last World Cup and Olympics.
Each has traveled their own path. Japan weaving and feinting their way through the rounds with a technical dexterity that sets the standard in the women’s game. The US willing themselves past each opponent with an impenetrable back four and a strategic shuffle inspired by suspension that saw Morgan Brian make like a grandmother before Christmas, knitting together both sides of the tactical sweater.
This US team has been praised and criticized, by some of their very own. Which is fine. Gone are the days where this team could do no wrong. Where an adoring press admired and fawned over powerful and lovely women dominating a sport they knew nothing about. The rest of the world, with fabled footballing legacies and fresh ambitions has caught up.
The women’s game continues to develop and grow. And this final is a reason to celebrate that growth. So let’s all tuck in with our families and watch a final to remember.