Japan can expect a United States at “full throttle” and bent on revenge on Sunday as the Asian champions bid to defend their title in the Women’s World Cup final. It will be the third showdown between the two sides in a major championship final. Nicknamed ‘the Nadeshiko’ – a pink flower symbolising grace and beauty – Japan won the 2011 World Cup crown in dramatic fashion in Frankfurt, Germany. The United States, World Cup winners in 1991 and 1999, twice relinquished a one-goal lead before succumbing in a penalty shootout. But the Americans took the Olympic gold ahead of Japan in London in 2012. Both squads include many of the same players who were on the pitch in the 2011 final, including all four goal scorers. Alex Morgan and Abby Wambach scored for the United States, while Homare Sawa and Aya Miyama were on target for the Japanese. ‘everything is on the line’ Carli Lloyd was one of three US players […]

Three US players — Carli Lloyd, Megan Rapinoe and Julie Johnston — were named on Thursday among eight short-listed for the Golden Ball Award given to the best player at the Women’s World Cup. The tournament concludes on Sunday with holders Japan playing the United States in Vancouver in a rematch of the 2011 final. Japan have two candidates for the award — captain Aya Miyama and defender Saori Ariyoshi —  FIFA announced on Thursday. Germany forward Celia Sasic is also among the contenders along with England defender Lucy Bronze. Former two-time winners Germany take on England in the play-off for third place in Edmonton on Saturday. France’s Amandine Henry has also made the short-list, despite her team being eliminated in the quarter-finals by Germany on penalties. Midfielder Henry scored a superb goal against Mexico. Lloyd helped lift the United States past Germany in the semi-final with a penalty and a decisive cross for a 2-0 win. Sasic missed a […]