Women's Olympic Soccer Final: U.S. vs. Japan, For Gold
In Olympic women's soccer, the U.S. team plays Japan in today's gold medal match at London's Wembley Stadium, in a game that will likely set a new attendance record of more than 80,000 spectators. The fans are hoping for a game as exciting as the 2011 World Cup final, when these same two teams fought to a 2-2 tie before needing penalty kicks to decide the champion.
With only 15 minutes remaining before the game, NPR's Howard Berkes reports that there are "hundreds, maybe thousands, of empty seats" in Wembley.
The American and Japanese teams know each other well by now. Since Japan's penalty-kick victory over the U.S. last July, the two teams have played each other several times.
"Japan definitely plays more of a possession style," Wambach told NBC's Al Michaels last night. "They're going to try to slow the game down as much as possible, and get us to move defensively, so that we expend a lot of energy in that way. And I think we want to speed the game up and attack, and get as many chances on goal as possible."
Asked if she believed the team could do that, Wambach said, "Absolutely. That's why we're here. We're prepared."
Prior to that World Cup loss, the Japanese women had never beaten the U.S. team in 25 matches. In 2012, the two teams have split their three matches, with one tie.
For the Americans, one big change since 2011 is the emergence of Alex Morgan, who has scored crucial goals for her team in the London Olympics.
Morgan says that her role has now "opened up a little bit to stretching the back line, but switching up the roles with Abby (Wambach) a little bit and being a little more unpredictable."
And like Wambach, Morgan feels ready for this rematch.
"I don't have nightmares about last year," she said. "We've been wanting this match since last year. We've been looking forward to it. This tournament could've gone so many different ways."
This is the second Olympics for Wambach, 32, who was part of the U.S. team at the Athens 2004 Games, but missed out on the Beijing 2008 Games after she broke her leg.