USA vs. Japan Women's Olympic Soccer: American Squad Will Gain Redemption in Win

Ian HanfordFeatured ColumnistAugust 9, 2012

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 06:  Alex Morgan #13 of the United States celebrates with Sydney Leroux #11 and Abby Wambach (L) after she scored in extra time during the Women's Football Semi Final match between Canada and USA, on Day 10 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Old Trafford on August 6, 2012 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Stanley Chou/Getty Images)
Stanley Chou/Getty Images

Team USA's women's soccer team will have a chance to avenge their 2011 World Cup loss to Japan in this year's Olympic gold-medal match on Thursday, August 9.

It's not expected to be cold in London on Thursday, but Japan will still taste bitter revenge. The American squad is not only talented, but have much more to play for in this game.

For one, all-world talent Abby Wambach is nearing the end of her illustrious career. She has nearly 150 goals in almost 200 career appearances, including two goals in Olympic action this year. She's arguably the greatest American female player ever, and an Olympic gold medal would put her one step close to Mia Hamm's fabled legacy.

This is Team USA's leader, and teams like to play for their leaders. Wambach isn't set to retire after the summer games are over, but at 32 years old, you have no idea what's going to happen after this.

The amount of motivation that can be drawn from Wambach pales in size next to the giant elephant in the room. The last time these two sides met, Japan walked away with a shocking victory by winning the 2011 Women's World Cup. Team USA was left wondering "what if?"

Blowing two leads against Japan was hard to fathom for Team USA, but it happened. This squad will use every ounce of that regrettable memory in Thursday's Olympic final.

Motivation and revenge aren't the only reasons Team USA will claim gold. These players are incredibly talented. All three levels play consistently. Wambach is a stronghold on the attack, and Alex Morgan is rapidly ascending the women's hierarchy.

The time is now for this squad, and it couldn't end any other way. When the final whistle blew in Germany last year, this match almost felt like it had to happen.

Now it is happening, and Team USA will make this one count.