The USWNT Ascends Into Legend As It Beats Japan

There was a common theme present whenever someone spoke about Carli Lloyd after her shock and awe campaign the 2015 World Cup Final. 

"She's just a beast man, she's unbelievable, a rock star.”

“She was obviously a beast.”

“Are you kidding me? The girl is just — she’s a beast.”  

That was the USWNT’s head coach Jillian Ellis and midfielders Megan Rapinoe and Kelley O’Hara, respectively, and we couldn’t agree more. 

We at The18 have been lauding the greatness of female athleticism for some time now. Our Beauty is a Beast campaign celebrates the speed, power, grace, determination and sacrifice of women. That being said, we are having a hard time describing just how great Lloyd’s performance today was. The woman of the hour had our back though. 

When Carli Lloyd stepped in front of the camera just moments after she and the United States Women’s National Team lifted the Women’s World Cup Trophy, the first word that came to her mind described everything perfectly.

“Speechless,” she said. 

She went on to say how proud she was of her teammates, but she probably could have just said that word and walked away like a pop superstar dropping the mic. It wouldn’t have even been the most bad ass thing she did today. 

She single handedly — Ok, with a little help from Lauren Holiday — took the final of the 2015 World Cup from a competition to a gala of excellence. Japan’s shoddy defending aside, she was Jamie-on-the-spot for the first two goals, showing the inmate ability that all great players have to put themselves in the right place at the right time. 

That being said, great players do more than just punch the positional clock, if you will. They make great plays, and her hat trick goal just might be the greatest play in Women’s World Cup history. 

It was shocking. It had us all wondering if this game was going to turn into Germany 7 Brazil 1, or worse. It really did. Our eyes told us that the game was over right then and there, but our brains struggled to keep up with the glorious reality being thrust at it.   

Things like the first 16 minutes of this game are not supposed to happen, not in a World Cup Final; the stakes are too high. One would think that the intensity of competition would prevent 4 goals in 16 minutes. Yet here is Carli Lloyd scoring twice in the first 5, and Holiday sending home a screaming volley, and Lloyd again scoring from the half-way line. It was legendary.

Japan brought the game back to 4-2, and in doing so they cast some real doubt over the result of the game, but only for a moment. Tobin Heath scored the US’s 5th goal in the 54th minute, two minutes after Julie Johnston put one into her own net through no will of her own to gift Japan its second. It was 5-2 and America could go back to how it had been in the moments after Lloyd’s cruiser missile strike:

Ridiculousness aside, today, the whole day, was one of celebration, and the fact that it came a day after the 4th of July only made it that much sweeter.

Living legends Abby Wambach and Christie Rampone both made appearances on the field. They didn’t make much of an impact; they came on as the United States was killing the game off. Their presence had nothing to do with tactics. It was a reminder that history was being made, and it was in line with the theme instilled by Carli Lloyd: this team is one for the ages. 

After the game Megan Rapinoe said that this is the most talented she has ever played on. Rapinoe might not have the popularity of Alex Morgan or Wambach, but she has done and seen as much as any other player in the world. That statement is an incredible one to make, and entirely believable. Only a player of the quality and reputation of Rapinoe could make it so. 

It’s hard to overstate the accomplishments of this team. Yes, they were ranked #2 in the world going in, but they looked hardly convincing, hardly legendary during the opening rounds of the tournament. They got it together, though, and peaked at the perfect time. America should be thankful that they did.

As the sun sets and the celebrations of the Fifteeners get into full swing, we all should celebrate as well. We should celebrate our fortune at being able to see Carli Lloyd ascend to greatness, the USWNT become legendary, and women’s football put its best foot forward on the biggest stage in the world. 

It is a fairy tale ending, and you can bet there will be more to come.  

Follow me on Twitter: @yetly

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