Carli Lloyd leads U.S. to World Cup victory

For the third time, the United States team has won the Women’s World Cup.

Since the first FIFA Women’s World Cup in 1991, the United States has never failed to finish less than third place. The U.S. won the inaugural title with a 2–1 victory over Norway. It added another win in 1999 over China PR in a 5–4 penalty kick decision.

The road to victory

The road to the 2015 World Cup was a challenging one. On June 30, the United States and Germany, the number one and two ranked teams, faced off at Montreal’s Olympic Stadium. The United States kept the same backline as previous matches, with Klingenberg, Sauerbrunn, Johnston and Krieger, and Hope Solo in goal. Rapinoe and Holiday were in midfield, along with Brian, Heath, and leading goal-scorer Carli Lloyd.

Morgan served as the lone forward.

Head Coach Jill Ellis’ line-up paid off, as the first half was dominated by the U.S., who had 55 percent possession and seven total shots with three on target. Germany was kept to a total of five shots with only one of the targets in their 45 percent possession.

In the second half, Germany kicked off with the first chance. In the fifty-ninth minute, Johnston failed to deal with a bounce-through ball, fouling Alexandra Popp in the box to set up a penalty kick. Germany chose tournament leading goal-scorer Sasic to take the shot. Solo, recognized as the best goalkeeper in the world, guessed the wrong way on the kick, but Sasic pulled the shot wide of goal to keep the game in a goalless draw.

Morgan drew a foul in the box on German defender Annike Krahn to set up Carli Lloyd with a penalty kick. Lloyd successfully converted past Angerer to put the U.S. up 1–0. Kelley O’Hara came on for Heath to deliver a goal that would seal the game. Lloyd dribbled into the box and found O’Hara from close range that finished the volley, making it 2–0 for the final score.

To face the U.S. in the final match, Japan went head-to-head with England. Aya Miyama converted a penalty in the thirty-third minute to put Japan up 1–0. England answered back when Fara Williams sent a penalty kick to even the score. When the game looked like it was going to go into extra time or even penalties, Bassett of England misplayed a ball while facing her own goal, sending Japan back into the finals 2–1 for the second straight World Cup.

The final match

On July 5, 2015, the United States looked to become the first country to win three World Cups. Vancouver’s BC Place Stadium, which consisted of a predominately pro-United States crowd of 53,341, gave the Americans a huge boost heading into the game.

The U.S. Women’s National Team kept their lineup intact. The team played progressively better in each game after the inclusion of midfielder Morgan Brian, which freed up Carli Lloyd to push forward in attack.

The action got started in the third minute when Lloyd fired home a Rapinoe low-driven cross past Japanese goalkeeper Ayumi Kaihori to take the lead 1–0. Two minutes later, Holiday’s free kick somehow found the feet of Lloyd, who scored again, doubling the lead. In the fourteenth minute, Heath delivered a ball near the box that sent Japan’s centerback Azusa Iwashimizu scrambling for the ball. The loose ball ended up sitting in the box for Holiday to volley it home to make it 3–0.

The dream start would not end—in the sixteenth minute, Lloyd completed her hat trick with a chipped ball from midfield over a stumbling Kaihori. She managed to get a hand on it, but not enough to push it out of the net. The 4–0 lead became 4–1 when Japanese forward Yuki Ogimi finished past Solo, when she spun off Johnston to get a clean look on goal.

Japan faced a three-goal deficit going into the second half, but refused to give up. In the fifty-second minute, a dangerously played free kick found the head of Johnston, who misplayed the ball into her own net to make it 4–2. In the fifty-fourth minute, a corner kick found the feet of Brian on the far post, who then delivered a low cross to Heath, making it 5–2 for the final score.

Abby Wambach subbed in the seventy-ninth minute for Heath. Wambach, in her fourth World Cup, would win the elusive title for her first time. She will go into the history books as the leading international goal scorer for both men and women, with 183 goals in 248 appearances.

Carli Lloyd tied for the Golden Boot, which is awarded to the tournament’s top goal scorer. Lloyed lost out in the tiebreaker to Germany’s Celia Sasic, but Lloyd did score the Silver Boot and the Golden Ball, the award given to the Women’s World Cup’s best player. The player is drawn up by the FIFA Committee and voted on by the representatives in the media. This year, Hope Solo won the Golden Glove, the award given to the best goalkeeper in the tournament.

It has been 16 years of the world cup, and the United States is bringing home its third title. The team will look to bring home their fourth when 2019 comes around, with France serving as the host country.

Jurgen Klinsman, head coach of the U.S. Men’s National Team, will look to replicate the success of the women in 2018 at the FIFA World Cup in Russia.