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U.S. Wins Women's World Cup Final Over Japan 5-2


For the U.S. women's soccer team, three is the magic number. In Vancouver last night, the team won their third soccer World Cup, thanks to three spectacular goals by the U.S. captain. NPR's Shereen Marisol Meraji has the story.

SHEREEN MARISOL MERAJI, BYLINE: After a long month of playing soccer on unforgiving AstroTurf and traveling across the great Canadian expanse, 24 teams became two.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Ladies and gentlemen, let's welcome the national teams of Japan and the United States of America.

MERAJI: A rematch from the last World Cup, the U.S. lost in a penalty shootout, so fans were hoping for a thrilling game this time. I asked a lot of people for predictions before kickoff.

OK, predictions, predictions?

And just about everyone said the U.S. would eke out a win, like Soledad Cine from Los Angeles.

SOLEDAD CINE: I don't want overtime. My stomach can't take that. It's going to be a tie, and then USA is going to come through somehow because that's how they do it.

MERAJI: But just three minutes - now there it is again - after kickoff, U.S. team captain Carli Lloyd scored.



MERAJI: And then she scored again two minutes later.



MERAJI: Fourteen minutes in, another U.S. goal. this time from midfielder Lauren Holiday. I'll spare you the cheering this time because two minutes after that, Carli Lloyd scored her third.



MERAJI: Four goals by the U.S. in 16 minutes. The Canadians I was sitting next to in the stands, Cindy and Jim Cornish, were flabbergasted.

CINDY CORNISH: I'm really shocked. What do you say?

JIM CORNISH: Extremely shocked at this.


MERAJI: Japan had two goals by the end. The final score was 5-2. Japan's goalkeeper was crying, but Akira Suga was smiling in his gorgeous royal blue Japan jersey with salmony pink flare. He says he kept on cheering until the end.

AKIRA SUGA: Until the last minutes. Yup, nipongambare.

MERAJI: Nipongambare.

SUGA: Gambare.

MERAJI: What is nipongambare?

SUGA: It's like just cheering for Japan and just go Japan, just go Japan and stuff.

MERAJI: Suga says it was amazing to see his team make it all the way to the final, even if they didn't win the trophy.

SUGA: Well, I kind of feel disappointed, but you know, they did well, and I'm just so happy for them and just proud to be Japanese.

MERAJI: And proud to be Americans are these two fans in rubber wigs made to look like cartoonish '50s bobs, one bright red, one blue.

What's your name?

LEE CALLAHAN: Lee. Lee Callahan.

ANN MARIE PHILLIPS: Ann Marie Phillips.

MERAJI: Seattle natives Callahan and Phillips rocked those same wigs the last time the U.S. national team won the World Cup in 1999.

PHILLIPS: It was really good to see all those goals, but we knew it wasn't over until the very bitter end.

MERAJI: Callahan says the U.S. had yet to fully utilize its secret weapon until the final match.

CALLAHAN: They unleashed the Lloyd. They unleashed the Lloyd.

MERAJI: Carli Lloyd won the Golden Ball for player of the tournament. She'll join her 22 teammates in a victory tour across the United States later this year. Shereen Marisol Meraji, NPR News, Vancouver. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Shereen Marisol Meraji is the co-host and senior producer of NPR's Code Switch podcast. She didn't grow up listening to public radio in the back seat of her parent's car. She grew up in a Puerto Rican and Iranian home where no one spoke in hushed tones, and where the rhythms and cadences of life inspired her story pitches and storytelling style. She's an award-winning journalist and founding member of the pre-eminent podcast about race and identity in America, NPR's Code Switch. When she's not telling stories that help us better understand the people we share this planet with, she's dancing salsa, baking brownies or kicking around a soccer ball.