world cup1As time runs out on Japan’s national team, Kieko Yuri (left) can hardly bear to watch and Ryu Furukawa is crestfallen, during the closing seconds of the FIFA Women’s World Cup final on Sunday.

A large crowd gathered at Far Bar and other Little Tokyo locations to watch the championship game, a rematch of the 2011 final between defending champion Japan and the United States. Nadeshiko supporters soon found themselves as stunned as the players. This time around, the Japanese were no match for the Americans, who scored early and often, winning the cup, 5-2.

A downcast Furukawa, who came from Fullerton, laid his juzu prayer beads on the table, resigned to the inevitable loss.

“I really expected to win today, especially after winning four years ago,” said Furukawa, wearing his Nadeshiko Japan jersey. “The USA, I think, was prepared for revenge, they had more motivation. [Former Women’s World Player of the Year Homare] Sawa is a legend, and I’m sorry she didn’t play more.”

world cup2Some supporters of Team Japan came dressed for the part, ready to cheer on their team at Oiwake Restaurant in Japanese Village Plaza.

“The U.S. scored right out of the gate, and I think Japan wasn’t pre­pared for that,” said Ed Mateo, who was viewing the game with friends at the Tokyo Beat karaoke bar. “They were really caught on their heels.”

Photos by MIKEY HIRANO CULROSS/Rafu Shimpo


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