FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) – What a difference a few weeks make.
The U.S. beat Japan twice over a five-day span in mid-May, by identical 2-0 scores. Two months later, the teams will play again on Sunday - only this time, it's in the Women's World Cup final. Japan coach Norio Sasaki says his players had just gotten together when it played the U.S. in May, and they've gotten better and better with each game.
Indeed, Japan is playing in the first final of a major tournament after stunning pre-tournament favorite Germany, the two-time defending World Cup champion, in extra time in the quarterfinals, and then making easy work of Sweden in the semifinals. The Americans, in their first final since last winning it all in 1999, are trying to become the first team to win three World Cup titles.