The video: After improbably slipping by the Brazilians in the quarterfinals, then trouncing the French, the U.S. women's soccer team suffered a "heartbreaking" loss in the World Cup final to a weaker-looking Japanese squad on Sunday. The Americans dominated for most of the game, but missed several close shots, and made clumsy defensive errors that allowed Japan to score. After overtime ended in a 2-2 tie, Japan beat the U.S. in penalty shots — its first-ever win against the U.S. (Watch the highlights below.) The Japanese players dedicated their first women's World Cup to their disaster-ravaged nation. "If any other country was to win this, then I'm really happy and proud for Japan," said U.S. midfielder Carli Lloyd.
The reaction: "Given everything that Japan has been through," it's hard to begrudge them their win in this "enthralling" match, says Jeff Carlisle at ESPN. But this is a game "the U.S. will rue for years to come." If only the Americans had been a tiny bit "more clinical in front of the goal," this nail-biter of a final would have been a "rout." Instead, it was both "thrilling and deeply weird," because Team USA dominated by playing like Japan, and Japan won "by out-USAing America," says Brian Phillips at Slate. And while the loss stings, it might be "the best thing that could happen to American women's soccer." There is no way the U.S. squad could "rival the feel-good story of the Japanese," but the team won America's respect and attention just for being a great team, and "kicking ass, as dramatically and unpredictably as possible." Watch the key moments from Sunday's game:
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- What the Middle Ages can tell us about the GOP's big charity myth
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- 10 things you need to know today: October 24, 2014
- 3 horrific inaccuracies in Homeland's depiction of Islamabad
- America's anti-feminist mega-corporations' toxic disregard for women must stop
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- The U.S. is about to sell weapons to Vietnam. That's bad news for China.
- Let us now praise Billy Joel
- 10 self-sabotaging interview mistakes to avoid
- Did the media get Ferguson wrong?
Subscribe to the Week