Surprise scenario for Cup final

Women's World Cup


CARSON, Calif. - This was the Women's World Cup that was supposed to see China trying to avenge its 1999 defeat by the United States.

But the sequel fell far short of materializing.

Instead, a couple of newcomers, Germany and Sweden, will compete for the crown of women's soccer when the World Cup final is contested this morning at the Home Depot Center.

The Germans aren't going without notice back home, already receiving a visit from German World Cup legend Jurgen Klinsmann, who lives in Orange County and left a nearby training session with the Galaxy to congratulate the women's team on reaching the final.

The Swedes, meanwhile, also seem to be enjoying their moment in the spotlight, soaking up all the amenities that Los Angeles and Hollywood have to offer by skipping training sessions for such places as Universal Studios.

This is welcomed, uncharted territory for both.

Neither has previously advanced to the final, let alone won it. After all, the tournament is being contested for only the fourth time, with the U.S. winning twice (1991, `99) and Norway ('95) once.

The Germans are playing the best soccer of the tournament, going 5-0 with a tournament-leading 23 goals and reaching the final with a 3-0 semifinal victory over the defending champion and host U.S. team.

Maren Meinert and Birgit Prinz are worthy of being called the best players in the world after dynamic showings.

And goalkeeper Silke Rottenberg has been superb in protecting the net.

But German coach Tina Theune-Meyer thinks it's all meaningless once the whistle blows today.

The Swedes' only setback came in a tournament-opening, 3-1 loss to the United States, and they are riding the momentum of a come-from-behind victory over Canada in the semifinals.

Both expect a fierce match, and the team that scores first could have a huge advantage, given the low-scoring nature of most past games between the two countries.

"I think the first goal will decide the game," Swedish midfielder Malin Andersson said.

Today's game

What: Women's World Cup final

Matchup: Germany vs. Sweden

Site: Home Depot Center, Carson, Calif.

Time: 1 p.m.

TV: Channels 2, 7

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