THE UNITED STATES ARE WORLD CUP CHAMPIONS!
Process that. Let it wash over you. Take a swig of whiskey.
WORLD. CUP. CHAMPIONS.
The Americans scored four goals in the opening 16 minutes to stun Japan and from there, the match was over. Carli Lloyd scored three of those four goals to become the first woman to score a hat trick in a World Cup final and lead the way as the U.S. tallied an emphatic 5-2 win.
It took all of three minutes for the U.S. to go in front. Japan let a low corner kick get all the way to the center of the box, where an onrushing Lloyd knocked it home with a clever outside of the boot finish. Two minutes later, Lloyd scored again when another corner kick found its way in front and she was able to clean up the mess.
In five minutes, the U.S. had scored twice. In a World Cup final. Against the fastest starting team of the tournament. It was amazing. And they were just getting started.
A long ball in by Tobin Heath was poorly cleared by Japan, allowing the U.S. to hop on it and when it floated in at the top of the six-yard box, Lauren Holiday came sprinting in. She was first to the ball and hit a sweet volley, blasting it past the goalkeeper before she even know what happened for a 3-0 lead after 14 minutes.
Then Lloyd, who already had a pair of goals, spotted the goalkeeper off her line in the 16th minute. Despite being at the halfway line, Lloyd loaded up and hit a lob that forced the goalkeeper to scramble back. But the goalkeeper stumbled and watched as the ball hit the post and went in.
It took 16 minutes for Lloyd to score a hat trick, and she capped it with a goal from midfield. The match had just begun, but it was already over.
With a 4-0 lead, the U.S. turned off a bit. The high pressure that destroyed Japan in the start completely disappeared and the Japanese were able to get back into the match. They knocked it around with ease and while the American defense was still generally solid, things began to turn. In the 27th minute, Japan got a goal back, but the U.S. still went into halftime with a plenty comfortable 4-1 advantage.
It looked like Japan might make a match of things when Julie Johnston's header ended up in the back of the U.S. net just seven minutes into the second half, but the lead was back to three goals moments later. Heath found the back of the net and it was 5-2 in the 54th minute.
Japan pushed, but never came particularly close to making a match of things. The highlight of the remainder of the match was Abby Wambach and Christie Rampone being subbed on, letting the two legends get in to the final.
After three minutes of extra time, the referee blew the final whistle and it was official -- the United States were World Cup champions.
WORLD. CUP. CHAMPIONS.