Redemption: The United States and Japan meet again, granting the Americans a chance to redeem their defeat in the 2011 Women’s World Cup Final. The match ended 1-1 in regulation. Abby Wambach put the U.S. ahead in the 104th minute. Homare Sawa equalized in the 117th to send the match to penalties. The USWNT converted just one of four attempts and lost.
History: The USWNT has won three of the four gold medals since the women’s game was introduced in 1996. They lost the 2000 final to Norway to earn a silver medal.
Player to Watch: Alex Morgan, dubbed “the fox in the box” by Arlo White and exhibited naked by Sports Illustrated, has backed up her hype on the pitch, now starting and becoming a creative force as the team’s ball player behind the more aerial Wambach. Slight edge over sprightly American winger Megan Rapinoe.
Gender Equality: Japan is one of the countries still coping with the backlash after it emerged their men’s soccer team was flown first class while the women, defending World Cup champions, flew in coach. The Japanese FA is trying to rectify that for the flight home.
Lineup Change: Shannon Box will replace Lauren Cheney in midfield. Cheney is a converted forward and more of a playmaker. Boxx is a veteran, defensive midfielder, who has not started since the first match after suffering a hamstring injury. The Americans will make this change to shore up the defense.
Fact: Abby Wambach has 11 goals in 14 career knockout games. [Via @GrantWahl]
[Photo via Getty]