Reviewing the WWC semifinals
The Women's World Cup final is set. The United States and Japan earned victories in the semifinals Wednesday and will meet for the title Sunday in Frankfurt, Germany. The United States, which defeated France 3-1, could become the first nation to win three Women's World Cup titles, while Japan beat Sweden 3-1 to reach its first final.
Here is a statistical look back at the semifinals:
• Midfielder Megan Rapinoe, who entered Wednesday's match in the 65th minute with the score level, continued to make an impact for the United States despite starting only one match. Rapinoe has made the most of the 219 minutes she has played, and the United States has been better in attack with her on the field. Of the Americans' 29 shots in the penalty area through five matches, 20 of them have come with Rapinoe on the pitch. Rapinoe's contributions, averaged out over 90 minutes, show how much more dangerous the U.S. attack is with her in the lineup. Goals per 90 minutes (2.5.) and passes completed in the attacking third per 90 minutes (55.9) are dramatically higher than when she is on the bench (1.7, 43.8).
• The United States chose quality over quantity in terms of its attacking tendencies against France. The Americans attempted their fewest shots (11) of the tournament, but the shots they created were from close range, an average of 14.7 yards. France finished with 25 shots, from an average of 30.1 yards. The United States also completed its fewest passes in the attacking third (22) for the tournament after it averaged 60 in its first four matches.
• Midfielder Lauren Cheney continued her run of impressive play for the United States at this Women's World Cup. Cheney opened the scoring for the Americans in the ninth minute with her second goal of the tournament, and Abby Wambach headed home her corner kick for the match-winning goal in the 79th minute. Cheney leads this Women's World Cup with three assists.
• Japan's quick-passing attack carved up another European side as it completed 499 passes against Sweden, which attempted only 410 passes. Mizuho Sakaguchi completed 78 passes, most by a Japanese player this tournament, while Aya Miyama finished with 60. Miyama does most of her damage with passes into the penalty area; she has completed a tournament-best 31 passes into the penalty area, including six against Sweden.
• Forward Lotta Schelin was a nonfactor for Sweden. Schelin finished with just 29 touches, including only 10 in the second half, had zero shots on goal and was called offside four times. In the quarterfinals against Australia, Schelin had 75 touches, scored a goal and was offside just once.