The set-up could hardly be more dramatic.
The U.S. national team plays Sunday to win the Women’s World Cup for the first time since Brandi Chastain ripped off her jersey 16 years ago. The opponent is Japan, the same team that handed the U.S. a heartbreaking loss in the 2011 final.
Four years later, many of the same players will be on the pitch, including Megan Rapinoe of Redding and Abby Wambach, the top scorer in women’s international history who so badly wants her first World Cup title to cap a stellar career.
This match is a celebration of global unity and of women’s sports – both of which we can’t do enough to promote.
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The excitement and sportsmanship on display in stadiums across Canada over the last month has accomplished the remarkable – making us mostly forget the corruption scandal at FIFA, international soccer’s governing body.
There will be another sellout crowd of 51,000-plus at BC Place in Vancouver. The match – in prime time on the East Coast on a holiday weekend – is expected to smash TV rating records in the United States. With an average audience of 8.4 million viewers, the U.S. semifinal victory Tuesday over Germany ranks as the most-watched World Cup semifinal ever – men’s or women’s. It was the third most-watched women’s soccer match, behind only the U.S. World Cup title over China in 1999 and that gut-wrenching U.S.-Japan final in 2011.
When the rematch ends, there will be tears. We hope they are tears of joy for the U.S. team.