USA vs. Japan 2011: Alex Morgan, Hope Solo and the Keys to a USA Finals Win

Andrew KulhaSenior Analyst IIIJuly 17, 2011

USA vs. Japan 2011: Alex Morgan, Hope Solo and the Keys to a USA Finals Win

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    The 2011 Women’s World Cup final is literally less than an hour away.

    The teams are on the field preparing and all the last minute changes are being finalized.

    The United States has been riding the momentum of a few brilliant wins leading up to the final, and they have the firepower and defensive ability to completely dominate Japan.

    The Japanese won’t just lie down though, and they have a great passing game and a slew of play makers that can cut up the USA’s defense.

    If the United States wants to win this finals match they are going to have to really focus on these five key points and players to bring them victory:

5. Lauren Cheney

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    Coach Pia Sundhage has made a brilliant move in changing up her starting lineup right before the match.

    She has taken out struggling midfielder Amy Rodriguez in favor of spark plug and brilliant passer Megan Rapinoe.

    The key here though will be moving Lauren Cheney up front with Wambach.

    Cheney is an incredible play-maker and passer, and I think she will be able to get Wambach a few very good looks.

4. Alex Morgan

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    Morgan is perhaps the biggest X-factor in this match and how she will be used could perhaps determine the outcome.

    She is a spark of instant energy for the United States team and could easily contribute to the Americans offense.

    Many have been clamoring for her to start, but I really feel her biggest impact will be as an energy player.

3. Abby Wambach

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    I don’t think the importance of Wambach in the Finals game can be overstated.

    She is the most dangerous weapon on the field and she has the potential to single-handedly put this game away for the United States.

    She fought through somewhat of a slump and came up huge for the USA when they needed her the most.

    I expect one goal from Wambach in the final game, at the very least.

2. Hope Solo

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    Simply put, Hope Solo is the best goalie in the world right now.

    I believe she is the backbone of this USA women’s soccer team, and if they win I think she will be the top candidate to bring home the tournament MVP.

    She is good enough to get a clean sheet in the final game, so don’t be surprised if she puts on another show.

1. Defense

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    For all the explosiveness that the United States possesses, defense is going to be the key to a victory over Japan.

    The Japanese are exceptional passers that have taken patience and precision to a new level.

    They love to move the ball up and down the pitch and have no problem passing it back to restart. They don’t always attack with the pass, but really rely on setting up their attacks with passes all around the pitch.

    If the United States wants to win this match, they are going to have to be patient against Japan's passing. They don’t want to get too aggressive or lulled to sleep. They also can’t afford to move up too much and let anybody get behind them.

    Solo is great, but the defense is really going to have to help protect her.

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