Well, it all ends here. After an exciting month of soccer, the 2015 Women's World Cup finishes today with a winner of either the United States or Japan—two of the top teams in the world playing a rematch of the 2011 World Cup final (and a rematch of the 2012 Olympic gold medal game, for that matter).
Japan, of course, won the World Cup trophy last time, emerging victorious after a penalty shootout. They made it into this final thanks in part to one of the most unfortunate moments you're likely to see in any sport, ever—an own goal in the 92nd minute, in a game that looked sure to head to extra time. But don't let that lucky/unlucky moment deceive you, because Japan are as strong as ever, and never to be taken lightly.
The U.S., meanwhile, grabbed their spot in this final after a hard-fought game against Germany. They had their own bit of luck—Célia Šašić missed her penalty and Julie Johnston didn't get a red card for the foul that caused it—but in the end, they earned their win. The USWNT has also earned plenty of criticism in this tournament, but they seem to have peaked at just the right moment.
Enough of all that, though. Let's do this thing.
Kickoff time: 7:00 p.m. ET
Venue: BC Place (Vancouver, Canada)
TV/Streaming: Fox and Telemundo for your televisions; Fox Sports Go and NBC Deportes En Vivo Extra for your streaming devices
Projected lineup: Part of the question going in to this one is whether Jill Ellis goes back to her beloved 4-4-2 formation or realizes that the 4-2-3-1 she deployed against Germany was clearly the best the U.S. has played in this tournament. Either way, by now we know that we'll see Hope Solo in goal, with Ali Krieger, Julie Johnston, Becky Sauerbrunn, and Meghan Klingenberg along the back line.
I'm inclined to think Ellis will use the 4-2-3-1 again, given how well it worked. Finding a way to get Morgan Brian, Lauren Holiday, and Carli Lloyd all on the field at the same time is a big plus for the U.S., and this formation is the way to do that. So, I think that's what we get, with Brian and Holiday occupying spots in the center of midfield, and Lloyd playing just below Alex Morgan up top. Megan Rapinoe will be on one wing, but for the other wing I'm torn as to whether Ellis goes with Tobin Heath again or starts Kelley O'Hara, who's made the most of her minutes so far (yes, that's a non-answer from me).
Other things: SI looks at the "What if it goes to penalties?" question and Grant Wahl has a piece on Becky Sauerbrunn. ESPN lets us know that Abby Wambach wants a World Cup title (in case you weren't convinced), and here's a great piece + photos on U.S. vs Brazil and U.S. vs. Japan in the 2011 World Cup, and here's one on the four types of obnoxious American soccer fans (don't be that guy, guys).
Prediction: This one's going to the U.S., 2-1.
What are you drinking? Chocolate milk.
This is your spot for pre-, in-, and post-game talk.