U.S. triumph caps truly global Women's World Cup
By Simon Evans
VANCOUVER (Reuters) - The United States returned to the pinnacle of women's soccer with a 5-2 crushing of Japan in Sunday's Women's World Cup final at the end of a riveting tournament that pushed the sport into new territory. The Americans last triumphed in 1999 but women's soccer is a vastly different sport than it was a decade-and-a-half ago with new nations forging their way into the elite amid an unprecedented level of global interest.
As Golden Ball winner Carli Lloyd demonstrated with her astonishing 16 minute hat-trick in the final, including a goal from the half-way line, the women's game is delivering a level of excitement and quality that was non-existent in the 1990s.
Prior to the final, all that was missing from the tournament in Canada was a star individual, a player who could symbolize the new status of women's soccer.
Once play had started in Vancouver, it took a little more than a quarter of an hour for Lloyd to emerge as the flag bearer for a new generation.
On Sunday, 53,341 fans packed into BC Place and millions more tuned in around the world to witness an American team annihilate the defending champions by storming to a 4-0 lead inside 16 minutes.
The onslaught was a cue for the overwhelmingly American crowd to start the party early with the Stars and Stripes able to fly high and proud for the remaining 74 minutes.
While few doubt that the U.S. deserve to be back on top outside the Olympic arena, where they have won the last three gold medals, the growth of the women's game should ensure they will take on a strong and diverse field in France in 2019.