By BOB SAN
AAP staff writer
TORONTO (July 6, 2015) — Thanks to an amazing performance by the United States Women’s National Team, I finally was able to watch a World Cup soccer final for the ages Sunday night. The USA team put on an offensive firework in the first 20 minutes of the game and defeated a very good Japan team 5-2 to give the US a record third World Cup title.
I can’t remember the last World Cup soccer final that was so entertaining and where a team put up a great performance like this. The last two men’s WC ended in dreary 1-0 scores even though you had four great teams – Spain, Holland, Germany and Argentina playing against each other with some of the greatest players of all-time on the pitch. The culprit was that all those great teams and great players were constraint by conservative coaching strategies that seem to first prevent goals than to create goals.
But the US women did the opposite in the epic 2015 final. They attacked from the get-go and could not be stopped. Captain Carli Lloyd gave one of the most amazing individual performances in any sports by scoring three spectacular goals in the first 17 minutes. To compare her performance to popular American sports, it’s like hitting three home runs in the first two innings, or scoring 40 points in the first half in basketball. It was the most amazing individual performance I have ever seen.
Over the past 20 years, soccer has been ruined in a way by coaching trends that gear toward suffocating defensive oriented styles instead of creative, strategies. Even in this World Cup Tournament, we saw a lot of that negative strategies. Unfortunately teams that played that style, such as Germany, England and Canada did well and advanced far while teams that played with flair and attacking styles such as Brazil, Cameroon and France were defeated. Japan was the only attacking team to get far. Even the US in the early stages was playing a very conservative style with little offensive flair.
That all changed in the knock-out stage when the Americans inserted Morgan Brian in midfield and allowed Lloyd to play forward and use her natural attacking abilities. The Americans took off, beat China, No. 1 seed Germany and then defending champ Japan. It’s great not just because they won, but because they won with such a flair, openness and willingness to attack that’s so rare. It’s refreshing to see the ‘Beautiful Game’ played that way.
Another endearing factor about the American players is that they demonstrated what great teammates they are. Veterans such as the legendary Abby Wambach and Shannon Boxx are now substitutes instead of starters. Instead of complaining, they accepted their roles with class and remained positive influences to the younger stars. That’s great to see.
Thank you USWNT, not only for bringing back the World Cup, but for being such great role models and restoring my faith in soccer. That’s how soccer should be played, creative, forward-looking and not to prevent goal by playing boring possession soccer. Hopefully, this performance will inspire young players and coaches at all levels to play the beautiful game that way.