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July 05, 2015

Fan primer: What you need to know for the Women's World Cup final

Get ready for tonight's game against Japan

Soccer's popularity is growing in the United States. Major League Soccer has seen a boom in attendance recently and is adding expansion teams seemingly every year, while the U.S. women's national team has taken the country by storm over the past few weeks as it surged to the World Cup final with a 2-0 victory over top-ranked Germany on Tuesday.

Sunday night, the team will play Japan for the title. With the Phillies stinking, the Sixers quiet in free agency after fleecing the Sacramento Kings in a trade, and the Flyers and Eagles seasons far away, the game provides an actually meaningful sporting event for Delaware Valley residents to get excited for.

So, just in case you're late to the bandwagon, here's what you need to know before cheering on the U.S. team on Sunday. 

When: 7 p.m. on Sunday, July 5

Watch: Fox (the network, not Fox Sports 1), coverage begins at 5 p.m.

Where: BC Place, a stadium in Vancouver, Canada

How they got here: The Americans, ranked second in the world, got out of the group stage with two wins and one draw. They beat Columbia in the first round, snuck by China to get to the semi-finals, and then defeated Germany thanks to a missed penalty kick and a successful charity strike from Carli Lloyd.

Local Connections: Midfielder Carli Lloyd is the big one. She's from Delran Township in Burlington County, New Jersey, and has scored more than 60 goals in her tenure with the national team, which she has been a part of since 2005. She played for Rutgers, and almost quit the sport altogether in 2003 after being cut from the Under-21 national team. Luckily, she didn't. 

In addition, midfielder Tobi Heath is from Basking Ridge, New Jersey, defender Christie Rampone is from Point Pleasent Beach, midfielder Heather O'Reilly is from East Brunswick, and midfielder Meghan Klingenberg is from Western Pennsylvania. 

History (Revenge): This match gives the Americans a chance to find redemption. They lost a heartbreaking World Cup final in 2011 to Japan after a goal in extra time sent the game to a shootout.

They haven't forgotten. Forward Abby Wambach told The Seattle Times that the loss has stuck with the team these past four years:

“It’s been a constant reminder since July 17, 2011. It’s kind of been that thing that’s been within us, that fuels our fire, that motivates us, to do that extra sprint, to make that extra flight, to extend and search for that ball, whether you’re in the box or keeping a ball from going in our own net. It’s always there. That’s what happens in heartbreak.”

Read more from The Seattle Times here

The players are hilarious on social media: The Kansas City Star put together some of the quirky and hilarious Instagram posts that the players have been posting. For golf fails and Miley Cyrus impersonations, check out their article here. For now, enjoy forward Sydney Leroux getting pranked by her teammates:

Joe Biden: The former U.S. Senator from Delaware and current U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, along with his wife Jill, will be at the match on Sunday.
Ready? Good.