Olympic Soccer Bracket 2012: Team USA Will Find Redemption vs. Japan
Team USA suffered a crushing penalty shootout loss in the 2011 Women's World Cup against a surprising Japan team.
It's not always that a team gets a shot at redemption. Granted, it comes on a slightly less important stage, but the United States has a golden opportunity to exact revenge against the Japanese in the gold-medal match at these 2012 London Games.
Japan was able to get by Brazil (2-0) in the quarterfinals and France (2-1) in the semifinals. The team's second-place finish in Group F was not ideal, but it was well enough to get them to this point.
The United States would be wise to try to get by on sheer firepower. The American women have tallied the most goals in the tournament with 14 and have allowed five—three of which came in the team's semifinal match against Canada.
There are so many options for Pia Sundhage to choose from when planning a course of attack. Alex Morgan is the brightest young star in this tournament, and her chemistry with veteran Abby Wambach is unparalleled by any two players on any team.
Wambach finds herself second among all players in the tournament with five goals in as many games, including an 80th-minute penalty tally that tied the semifinal at three all. Morgan and Megan Rapinoe have both racked up three apiece. Rapinoe managed two equalizers against Canada, while Morgan drove the winner in extra time home on a header.
Carli Lloyd has two goals in the tournament, and youngster Sydney Leroux drove one home as well.
The Japanese, on the other hand, have managed just six goals in the five games they have played. Yuki Ogimi is the only Japanese player with multiple goals in this tournament. Four of her teammates have one each.
Japan doesn't have the offense to match Team USA's attack. If it doesn't play a defensive game, the United States is going to capitalize on the counterattack and pour it on early and often.
Even if Japan plays a defensive game, the Americans are going to be able to spend a lot of time in the offensive zone and pepper goalkeeper Miho Fukumoto.
Which team will take home the gold medal?
It is a catch-22 for the Japanese side unless it they can find a way to neutralize the versatile American attack. There are so many ways that Team USA can beat Japan on both ends of the field, and so many players to do it.
Just over one year ago, Japan scored a major upset victory over the United States in the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup, something this American roster undoubtedly is still smarting from.
A gold medal may not be the same as a World Cup title, but it isn't far off.
The Americans are much more dangerous than they were this time last year, and much more cohesive. Hope Solo and company will have no problem getting the job done in the gold-medal match on Thursday, August 9 at 2:45 p.m. ET.
Here is a link to the full women's bracket via London2012.com.
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