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Lloyd’s early hat-trick sets tone as USWNT thrashes Japan to lift third World Cup

USWNT World Cup Celebration (Jane Gershovich)

Photo by Jane Gershovich/SBI Soccer


After a 16-year wait since its last Women’s World Cup triumph, the U.S. Women’s National Team claimed a third star in spectacular fashion on Sunday night.

Led by a hat-trick from Carli Lloyd within the first 16 minutes, the U.S. rode four first-half goals to throttle reigning champions Japan, 5-2, in Sunday night’s Women’s World Cup final.

With the victory, the USWNT avenged the team’s 2011 penalty kick loss to Japan while also claiming the team’s first Women’s World Cup trophy since 1999.

Generally pushed on by a stout defense throughout the entire tournament, it was the U.S. attack that led the way in Sunday’s finale.

It took just three minutes for Lloyd to push the U.S. in front, finishing on a set piece to start the U.S. onslaught. After earning a corner in the third minute, the ball was played short through the box, allowing Lloyd to dart towards the penalty spot and finish first time for her first goal of the evening.

Lloyd’s second came just two minutes later on another set piece. With a free kick out wide, the ball was deflected on by Julie Johnston at the far post. Waiting right inside the six-yard box, Lloyd proceeded to finish from close range, adding her second goal of the game within five minutes.

After a Lauren Holiday rocket furthered the misery for shellshocked Japan in the 14th minute, Lloyd’s third came in spectacular fashion with a finish from just inside her own half, giving the U.S. a 4-0 lead within 16 minutes.

With Ayumi Kaihori planted off her line, Lloyd smashed a shot from the midfield, lofting the ball up and over the defenseless Japan goalkeeper to earn her hat-trick.

Now armed with a 4-0 lead, the U.S. relented just a bit in the 27th minute as Yuki Ogimi pulled one back to pull Japan within three. With the goal, the U.S. saw a 540 minute shutout streak snapped, the second longest in Women’s World Cup history.

Japan pulled another goal back via a Johnston own goal in the 52nd minute before Tobin Heath calmed the USWNT’s nerves with the team’s fifth finish of the night on yet another USWNT set piece.

Once again taking advantage of a corner kick, Heath was set up by Morgan Brian, allowing the USWNT midfielder to tap home from close ranger to restore the three-goal advantage.

With the game firmly in hand, head coach Jill Ellis subbed in Abby Wambach and Christie Rampone in the game’s waning moments as the USWNT cruised to claim the team’s third Women’s World Cup trophy.


    • US TV didn’t start showing the men’s World Cup until the 70’s. The first I saw and remember ever being televised in this country was 1974 and they only showed the finals I think. I have seen probably at least 80% of all WC games televised on US TV since. I can say without equivocation, that her performance in the final was the greatest ever in a final on any level over the last 40 years. Probably the greatest in any WC game over that period. Her goal from the half way line has never been seen in a final over that same time period (and probably longer). That’s the kind of goal you see only once every couple of years in all of top professional soccer, so to do it in a WC final is just mind blowing.

      • GP, I remember watching Brasil play in a couple of the KO games in the 1970 WC, with a vivid memory of seeing Pele fool two defenders in a row with a ball between their legs. Somewhere in the garage I still have VHS tapes I made of games from the 70’s which were re-televised during the USA94 cup.

        Lloyd’s unassisted goal from the midfield stripe was nothing short of brilliant. The two set-piece goals were also uncanny. She nearly had a fourth on a header, too.

        I, too, do not recall ever seeing such a dominating performance on the field, much less at this level in the FINAL against one of the best teams, perhaps the next best team in the tournament.

        Just wow. Houston Dash just moved up on the list of things on which to spend time and money.

  1. that first goal was one of the most audacious and technically perfect i’ve ever seen. outside of the left foot on a sprint? you’ve gotta be kidding me.

  2. Thought of posting my Best XI… here goes:

    GK: Karen Bardsley (England)
    DEF: Tabea Kemme (Germany), Julie Johnston (USA), Becky Sauerbrunn (USA), Lucy Bronze (England)
    MID: Aya Miyama (Japan), Amandine Henry (France), Carli Lloyd (USA), Megan Rapinoe (USA)
    FWD: Celia Sasic (Germany), Lisa De Vanna (Australia)

    • Those look like good choices to me. Some might quibble with Rapinoe since she missed one game due to cards and was taken off early 2 or 3 times and wasn’t as dominant in the knockout games, but all the others seem solid.

  3. There was a poster on here the other day (apologize, but I can’t remember screen name) who was making the comparison between Lloyd & Michelle Akers. He/She was asking that if Carli had a great game in the final, and the US won, if we would put her on the same pedestal as Akers. I highly doubt he/she would have envisioned the type of game Carli would have, but I guess the question is even more valid now.

    • Lloyd is great, and has come up huge in the biggest moments. But a comparison it Akers is ridiculous. Akers is one of the top 5 players in women’s soccer history.
      DiCicco has stated that when Akers played, she was first the best striker in the world, then the best attacking CM in the world, then finished is the best CDM in the world.

      • Not enough people say MAS play live… She was like a man playing the femal game, strong, fast, technically very gifted and was more tactically aware than anyone on the field… she was in a class of her own…

        She played against lesser players though and Lloyd in the knockouts was awesome…

        I only wish MAS would have played in this era… she truly is the Michael Jordan of her sport….

      • By the time the US women’s team was being televised with regularity, Akers had already suffered some injuries (knee I think) and wasn’t quite the same player, so I never got to see her in her prime. With all due respect to Lloyd, I think Mia Hamm was better all around than Lloyd, although Lloyd is better in the air. Akers was like Wambaugh in that she was so physically imposing. The technical skills of women players are so much better now than they were 15 to 20 years ago, it’s very difficult to make good comparisons, however.

  4. “SENSE OF TEAM”…..everyone interviewed never once took credit for anything. A national team that plays for each other. Lloyd, Wambach, Morgan, O’hara……everyone highlighting their success to EVERYONE on the 23 team roster, which translated into their superiority on the pitch. Awesome
    The USMNT has a long way to go………

    • I agree with the sense of team but I don’t that’s the USMNT’s problem. The problem is that, on the men’s side, the players we produce aren’t as good other countries. I think the USMNT’s team spirit is a strength that helps them overachieve at times.

      • True slowleftarm but the USWNT has:
        A strong sense of team
        A captain of the team that’s not even in the starting line-up
        Players that play for each other…..that are unselfish
        Players that Respect seniority with no ego involved
        This world cup (and our USMNT trip to Europe) has shown that good team-work can make up for lack of great individual skill and talent.

      • I agree that’s all important but what the USWNT has that the USMNT lacks is world-class players. When we start producing male players who are at the level of Carli Lloyd then the USMNT will be in business.

      • very true, and to be honest I wonder if we will get a Carli Lloyd equivalent male player anytime soon lol but we beat Netherlands and a watered down Germany right?…in Germany, so world class players will put us with the elite but for the time being, based on what we have good team work will make us fierce all round competitors

  5. I was delighted to see Elis bench Waumbach, Leroux and Press. Once these three were off the field the US team improved drastically. I am not a hater, but they were not have a good tournament. Moreover, Elis had the team continue to push and not “park the bus” in front of their own box. A quick lead was essential as Japan enjoys ball possession and a slow pace. The Tour De Force that struck Japan destabilized the offense and bewildered the defense. Although Japan regained some composure, the American’s fifth goal was a crusher that darkened the land of the rising sun.

  6. Delighted to have been proven wrong. I thought Jill Ellis was a control freak and an amateur to boot; she got the knockouts absolutely right.

    In particular she noticed our strikers were a complete liability – not a one of them was remotely in form this tournament, for one reason or another, and weren’t cooperating at all – and so she sort of went to a “strikerless” formation that also shored up the huge hole in the middle of the field where Carly Lloyd and Lauren Holiday were. Amazing how much those two looked different when they actually had some cover behind them (hullo, Morgan Brian), and they were allowed to do what they actually do well, which is get on the ball and attack.

    Dominance ensued.

    Well done, Jill Ellis. Delighted to have been wrong about you.

    As for the girls, what do you say? Outside of our (deservedly) benched striker platoon, they were great.

    • Well said. I felt it wasn’t a very good team at the beginning of the tourney. I was wrong again. Happens often to me with soccer.

    • Who would have thought that we could win it all with Alex Morgan scoring only once all tournament? I thought and still think that Leroux should have been given more opportunities, but it’s hard to argue with this result. Also, although we will never know what the result would have been like if Sermani had remained coach, it now looks like the players were right about demanding his removal. If nothing else, it’s hard to win if the coach doesn’t have the respect of the players. Ellis was more than an adequate replacement.

  7. domination. Lloyd is the uber predator on the field. what a coronation

    Ellis with the AWESOME early free kicks on the ground, total changeup to all ideas about USA aerial domination on set pieces…2 goals in the first 5 minutes. seriously, that is tactical awesomeness, and the execution from confidence to pull it off…twice. call it whatever you want

    and then they pounced on the jugular when the deer hit the headlights


    • The first goal was obviously a result of a play drawn up by the coaching staff and practiced by the team. They executed it with precision and they and the coaches deserve a lot of credit for such a great play.

  8. Great win!!! I guess someone forgot to tell them the world is catching up with them! If only the men side were as good.

    • Well that didn’t take long. This “we’re better than the men” attitude is what turned off A LOT of people to the ’99 team and led to the crash of WUSA. Keep it up at your own risk, friend.

      • I thought it was excessive spending that led to WUSA’s demise. Not sure what your point is – wouldn’t we all like for the USMNT to be winning world cups?

      • I’m not knocking the men I just wish they would be a perrenial contender instead of a perennial happy to get out of our group. Unfortunately, people don’t like to watch women’s professional sports. Never have and I think never will 🙁 . Maybe if they kept the league really small

  9. I guess they improved during the tourney after all. I don’t think anyone will complain about the US’ performance after beating Germany and Japan.

    • Great turn a around mid tournament! Was not betting on them around the time of the r16 game… The last two games firmly cemented them as the #1 team in the world!

      • Benching Abby and playing Morgan Brian as the third central midfielder gave the team balance, better defensive pressure, better ball movement, more possession and revived anemic offense. Aside from a couple of mistakes, defense was pretty sold through out the tournament.

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