"You remind players, it's two times 45 minutes," Sundhage said. "Now, for women, especially this team, they try to put the bigger picture in there and prove that this women's sport needs a little recognition. It's a balance. It's nothing that the men ever think of, but the women do."
The men also are not particularly motivated by money, but a $1.5 million bonus, split among the 18 players, was dangled in front of the women by United States Soccer, along with a 10-game series of exhibitions if they won.
Not enough to buy a house, Megan Rapinoe noted, but a down payment will be nice.
The Americans had plenty of people to thank for their newfound fortune, not the least of whom was the referee for the second consecutive game. Awarded a series of controversial calls in an overtime semifinal win over Canada, the US again caught a break Thursday when the ball struck Tobin Heath's outstretched arm in the penalty area in the first half. Referee Bibiana Steinhaus of Germany chose not to call a penalty.
"It was a clear hand ball," Lloyd acknowledged. "It hit her arm, but that's how it goes."
It was the type of break the United States needed against a team whose deft passing and intelligent runs made a mockery of their game plan, which was to keep the ball away from Japan.
"It didn't work," Sundhage said.
Instead, the Americans did what they do best: run and jump and put the ball in the net. It also helped to have Solo in their net.
Solo, who had made more news with what she has said in this tournament -- her cold war with Brandi Chastain and her comment after a quarterfinal win over New Zealand that she hadn't been tested -- than what she had done.
However, after allowing three goals by Christine Sinclair against Canada, she made several critical saves Thursday, including one in the 83rd minute.
Twice in last year's World Cup Final, the United States blew late leads and eventually lost on penalty kicks. When Christie Rampone -- who otherwise played an exemplary game at center back, clearing two balls off the line -- was stripped by Mana Iwabuchi in the 83rd minute with a clear path to Solo ...