Abby Wambach didn't put on her ''Greatness Has Been Found'' T-shirt right away. She instead strayed from her teammates, knelt alone at midfield and cried into a U.S. flag.
Yes, greatness has been found. And payback has been achieved.
The Americans are again on top of the women's soccer world.
The United States won its third straight Olympic gold medal Thursday, beating Japan 2-1 in a rematch of last year's World Cup final and avenging the most painful loss in its history.
''They snatched our dream last summer,'' U.S. midfielder Megan Rapinoe said. ''And this kind of feels like the nightmare turned back around.''
Carli Lloyd scored early in both halves, Hope Solo made a lunging late save as the Japanese pushed frantically for a tying goal, and the entire roster found the redemption it had been seeking since that penalty kick shootout loss in Germany last year.
''We came so close to winning the World Cup,'' Wambach said. ''We knew if we put our energy and belief in each other into this year, we could pull off something special.''
Before 80,203 fans at Wembley Stadium, an Olympic record for a women's soccer game, the teams put on a back-and-forth, don't-turn-your-head soccer showcase, proving again that these are the two premier teams in the world. Women's soccer is still in its formative stages in Britain, but the match proved more than worthy for the hallowed grounds of the beautiful game.
Back home, America was paying attention, just as it was last year and despite all the other Olympic events. Even President Barack Obama, while visiting the U.S. Olympic Committee's training center in Colorado Springs, Colo., offered a ''special shout-out'' to the women's team for its victory.