Keys to the United States' 5-2 win over Japan in the Women's World Cup final
The United States had a 7-3 advantage in corner kicks & scored its first two goals off restarts & three of its five. Carli Lloyd put the Americans ahead in the third minute off a grass-hugging corner kick from Megan Rapinoe, who appeared to surprise a Japanese team that on average is 2 inches shorter than the Americans & likely was expecting a ball in the air. Lloyd doubled the lead two minutes after when Lauren Holiday took a free kick from the flank & played a low one-hopper that Julie Johnston played to Lloyd with a back-heel flick. The final goal was scored when Holiday's corner kick went to the far post & Morgan Brian played the ball back in front to Tobin Heath.
U.S. coach Jill Ellis, criticized for her tactics & lineup selections early in the tournament â€” even by former American star Michelle Akers â€” switched from a 4-4-2 in the 1-0 quarterfinal win over China to a 4-2-3-1 for the 2-0 semifinal win over Germany, putting the 22-year-old Brian, the youngest player on her roster, in a defensive midfield role & freeing Lloyd to move higher up the field.
SPEAKING OF SWITCHES
Pia Sundhage left as coach in 2012 after a pair of Olympic titles to coach her native Sweden & was replaced by Tom Sermanni, who took over at the start of 2013. After a dismal 1-2-1 record at the 2014 Algarve Cup, Sermanni was fired that April & the U.S. Soccer Federation turned to Ellis, its director of development. She had gone 5-0-2 in an interim role in 2012, was given the job on an interim basis again after Sermanni's departure & then was appointed head coach in May 2014. She had never used the same starting lineup in consecutive matches until the group stage finale against Nigeria & the round-of-16 game against Colombia, then used an identical lineup once again in the semifinal against Germany & the final versus Japan.
Source: “Associated Press”