But Japan stunned the Americans in a riveting women's World Cup Final, beating them 3-1 on penalty kicks. It was a game watched by soccer fans all across the country, including here in Chicago, who rooted for team USA.
Fado's Irish Pub in River North was packed with fans watching what shaped up to be a tense, hard fought battle. After several scoreless minutes, the U.S. scored the first goal sending fans to their feet, and in a repeat of the 1999 women's World Cup game, it came down to penalty kicks.
"You could see everyone was holding in there but at the end, the last goal was heart-breaking, "said U.S.A. fan Greta Greising of Evanston.
"I'm proud of them and I'm sure the rest of America is as well -- it was a tough game," said U.S.A. fan Veronica Foley.
This victory was supposed to belong to the Americans -- athletic and powerful, they were the favorites. For 68 minutes, the Americans had the game but couldn't find a way through the Japanese defense.
The story of Japan's team could be described as a Cinderella story. An underdog from the start, the team battled its way to its very first World Cup. Led by 32-yea-old powerhouse Homare Sawa , they were motivated to bring joy to their country which was evastated by an earthquake and tsunami just four months ago.
The handful of Japanese fans at Fado's celebrated the victory.
We are very happy because this is first time to win - I mean defeat the United states which is a very nice team. Anyway, I can't believe it's out," said Japan fan Ken Asada.