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US Women Reach World Cup Final

United States' Abby Wambach scores her side's second goal during the semifinal match between France and the United States at the Women's Soccer World Cup in Moenchengladbach, Germany, July 13, 2011
United States' Abby Wambach scores her side's second goal during the semifinal match between France and the United States at the Women's Soccer World Cup in Moenchengladbach, Germany, July 13, 2011
Parke Brewer

The United States women's soccer team has reached the World Cup final for the first time since it last won the title on home soil in 1999.  

The FIFA women's World Cup has been played five previous times, and the United States is the only nation to make the semifinals in every tournament.

But the Americans' only titles came in the inaugural event in 1991 in China and in the memorable victory over China on penalty kicks 12 years ago California.  They finished third in 2003 and 2007.

Now after Wednesday's stirring 3-1 victory over France in Moenchengladbach, Germany, the United States is back in the final for the first time since 1999.

Star U.S. striker Abby Wambach broke a 1-1 deadlock with a header off Lauren Cheney's corner kick in the 79th minute.  It was Wambach's third goal of the tournament and 12th of her career, tying her with fellow American Michelle Akers for third on the all-time World Cup scoring list.

It was Cheney's goal in the 9th minute that gave the United States the early lead.  But she told ESPN she credits Wambach for her efforts.

"Not only is she at the right place at the right time, but she has more heart than anybody that I've ever played with," said Cheney. "And I know that in the last minute, she's going to get it done."

Twenty-two year-old Alex Morgan, the youngest player on the U.S. team, added an insurance goal in the 82nd minute, racing past four defenders on a breakaway and deftly lifting the ball over the French goalkeeper.

U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo told ESPN that after the dramatic quarterfinal penalty kicks win over Brazil, she was confident they would win.

"That's this team's mentality," said Solo. "We do it for our country; we do it for our nation.  It's our mentality, we're going to win.  And there wasn't one point - even though it was a sloppy goal against us, I was very upset - but I knew our team would dig us out."

The United States will play in Sunday's final in Frankfurt against Japan, a 3-1 upset winner over Sweden in Wednesday's other semifinal.

Japan had also upset two-time defending champion and host Germany in the quarterfinals.   

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