Women's World Cup Final: Ranking the US Players
Well, it was a great World Cup final. It just didn't have the outcome American fans were hoping for.
Japan defeated the US 2-2, 3-1 on penalties to claim its first Women's World Cup title after coming from a goal down both in regulation and extra time.
But plenty of people didn't think the US would even make it this far given how inconsistent they've played in the last year.
Some US players will surely be making waves for a while, and some may be at risk of losing their jobs. Let's take a look at how the US players did this summer in Germany.
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The defense is definitely a problem area for the US. And it won't get much better considering that Christie Rampone is 36 and likely won't be around for the Olympics next summer.
But she was still a stalwart for the US back line in this tournament.
Rampone, the captain and last remaining member from the victorious 1999 squad, kept track of Marta and never let her get away. She kept France's young speedsters in check, and in the final against Japan, she cleared balls off the goal line and kept the forwards in front of her.
Rampone is a gem, and she'll be sorely missed.
Ali Krieger was dependable at left-back for most of the tournament, but she withered in the final. Her defense was only a problem in Aya Miyama's first equalizing goal, but she rarely got forward to much consequence.
It was Krieger's penalty that sealed the quarterfinal victory over Brazil, and at 26, she should be back next summer with some experience under her belt to settle her nerves.
Amy LePeilbet on the right doesn't have speed. Sweden burned her for it, and she often depended on Rampone to bail her out.
Rachel Buehler had a mixed tournament. She was contentiously sent off against Brazil, but she hadn't exactly put herself in a great position in the first place.
She was also largely at fault for Miyama's goal, and she let Homare Sawa get in front of her for Japan's second late equalizer.
Overall, the defense needs some work because aside from Rampone, none of these players inspire much confidence.
Becky Sauerbrunn was a great replacement for Buehler against France, and she may not be on the bench for long.
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The midfield is a pretty deep area for the US, but that can be just as troublesome as it is good.
Shannon Boxx and Carli Lloyd played the holding midfield role well up until the final when they couldn't produce many good balls for their forwards. They put good pressure on the ball defensively but still need to find their shooting boots.
Boxx made her 150th appearance for the national team against France, and at 34, she won't see a whole lot more. It may have ended on a sour note, but throughout the tournament, she was pretty dominant.
Lloyd looked confused at times in front of goal and made some rash challenges, and at age 30, she could be seeing more bench time in the future.
Heather O'Reilly had a fantastic tournament overall. Her speed got her past any defender and helped her get back on defense. She could have tallied more assists from the flanks if not for a lack of finishing.
Megan Rapinoe lost her starting job just before the tournament, and it may be for the best. She scored right off the bench against Colombia, was completely ineffective from the start against Sweden and was a huge difference maker off the bench against both Brazil and France.
Against Japan, she provided another brilliant ball for the opening goal, but she was largely absent. She's got super-sub written all over her.
Lori Lindsey got the start against Colombia but is better off the bench, while Kelley O'Hara and Tobin Heath show a lot of promise.
The US have O'Reilly and Rapinoe to fly down the wings, but they need a couple to boss the game from the center.
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Alex Morgan is a future star. There's no doubt about it. The 22-year-old killed off the game against France and scored what really should've been the winner against Japan in the final.
What's better is that both goals came from getting away from her defenders' high line, running toward the goal from 30 yards out and coolly making the keeper dive before slotting it into the net.
She'll be leading this line for a long time.
Lauren Cheney, 23, had a fantastic tournament, scoring two goals and seeing a lot of shots just miss.
Amy Rodriguez couldn't find her shooting boots this tournament, and it cost her the starting spot in the final, but she should've been given a shot in extra time (US used just two substitutions).
A-Rod, at 24, is the oldest of those three, so the US forward line is in very good shape. But don't forget about Abby Wambach.
At 31, Wambach is not the player she was before she broke her leg in 2008, but she makes up for her somewhat loss of skill with her awareness and knowledge of the game.
She scored four headers this tournament (13 World Cup goals, US record), all of which were because she got away from her defender and into the danger zone.
She'll be back next summer, and her experience is key, but it shouldn't be long before she's on the outs.
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Hope Solo is the No. 1 keeper in the world, no question, but she didn't play like it in the final.
She couldn't do anything about the goals, but she got away with coming off her line foolishly several times late and should've done better with some tame Japan penalties.
She's in no danger of losing her job because of some splendid performances in this World Cup, but she choked a bit when it counted most.
Best Players Overall
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Without Christie Rampone's stellar defense, the US would've been out in the quarters. She'll be very tough to replace.
Fullbacks can't keep Heather O'Reilly in front of them, and if she can start scoring the ball as well, she'll have it all.
Megan Rapinoe can't be counted out either for her excellent lobs/crosses, but she needs to be more consistent to get back in the starting lineup.
And what more can you say about Abby Wambach? She scores goals when it matters most.
She's got 123 international goals in 164 appearances, and she'll no doubt add a few more in the next year or so. Regardless, Alex Morgan will be taking over by the next World Cup.