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U.S. versus Japan: the context, perception and significance

Sunday, July 17, 2011 | 8:43 p.m. CDT; updated 8:51 p.m. CDT, Sunday, July 17, 2011
United States players stand on the pitch after their team lost the final match between Japan and the United States at the Women's Soccer World Cup in Germany on Sunday.

The United States women's soccer team lost to Japan on Sunday to conclude the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup. Here's a look at what sports writers and analysts have been saying about the tournament:

  • Several soccer analysts compared this year's U.S. women's world cup team to the 1999 team that dramatically defeated China in penalty kicks at the Rose Bowl. The Los Angeles Times interviewed two of the players from the '99 team before Sunday's match to gain their perspectives on what it's like to play on such a high-pressure stage.
  • The game began just before 2 p.m. CDT. But fans around the world crowded around televisions at bars, pubs and other places to see the spectacle. The hour of the day was not so convenient for Japan. Fans gathered throughout the east Asian nation in the early hours of the morning to support "Nadeshiko" — the Japanese women's national team's nickname, meaning "beautiful flower" — according to an article from the New York Times.
  • A massive earthquake caused a fatal tsunami to ravage the east coast of Japan in March. The earthquake knocked out critical electric power and caused physical damage within the plant, including to the reactors' normal emergency cooling system. The Japanese people desperately needed something to cheer about. Their women's national soccer team sensed this entering the finals match against the U.S., according to an ESPN article.
  • For the first time in women's World Cup history, both teams competing in the finals — the U.S. and Japan — did not win their round robin group. This could be a telltale sign of the competition in women's soccer leveling out. ESPN featured a story discussing the improvement in women's teams' skill levels, which are causing some men's national teams to show more support for their female counterparts.
  • The U.S. and Japan final set a Twitter record Sunday. The Next Web posted a brief story stating that 7,196 "tweets" in one second were posted at the end of the match. The previous record came at 4 seconds after midnight in Japan on New Year's Day, when 6,939 "tweets" were posted.

  • The U.S. women's team will have their next opportunity to showcase their rendition of the "beautiful game" on an international stage next summer in London at the 2012 Summer Olympics. Fans who want to keep track of the team in the meantime can check out U.S. Soccer's official website.

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