Women's World Cup final

United States vs. Japan

Where: Frankfurt, Germany When: Sunday, 2:45 p.m. TV: ESPN

Megan Rapinoe of the United States

Megan Rapinoe of the United States (Thomas Peter/Reuters)

The Americans entered as the world's top-ranked team, but not necessarily the favorites. It hasn't been an easy run to their first final since 1999. After the U.S. team lost to Sweden in group play, it rallied to beat Brazil in penalty kicks and then added a 3-1 victory over France.

Player to watch

Megan Rapinoe: Whether she starts or not, Rapinoe has undoubtedly influenced the outcome of the last two U.S. games upon entering as a sub. She brings great pace and service from the wings.

Key stat

25: Consecutive games the U.S. has gone unbeaten against Japan. The U.S. is 22-0-3 all-time against Japan, including three wins this year, and it has run up a 77-13 goal differential.

Road to the final

Group stage: U.S. 2, N. Korea 0; U.S. 3, Colombia 0; Sweden 2, U.S. 1

Quarterfinal: U.S. 2, Brazil 2

An own goal, a retaken penalty shot and Abby Wambach's tying header in the 122nd minute are part of the Americans' win on penalty kicks, 5-3

Semifinal: U.S. 3, France 1

Wambach's header off a corner kick in the 79th minute breaks a tense tie.

Homare Sawa of Japan

Homare Sawa of Japan (Patrik Stollarz/Agence France-Presse via Getty Images)

Japan, which had advanced out of the group stage just once before, is in its first World Cup final. In fact, this is the first time they've reached the final of a major tournament. They lost to the U.S. in the semifinals of the Beijing Olympics.

Player to watch

Homare Sawa: A former Washington Freedom player, Sawa is playing in her fifth World Cup. Technical player who is the heart of Japan's possession-oriented midfield, has tournament-leading four goals.

Key stats

60: Percent possession maintained by Japan against Sweden in the semifinals. It will look to dictate tempo through possession against the United States.

10: Goals scored by Japan in five tournament matches this year. It had scored 13 goals in 16 previous tournament matches.

Road to the final

Group stage: Japan 2, N. Zealand 1; Japan 4, Mexico 0; England 2, Japan 0

Quarterfinal: Japan 1, Germany 0

Substitute Karina Maruyama's goal in extra time knocks out the two-time defending champs.

Semifinal: Japan 3, Sweden 1

Nahomi Kawasumi, a surprise starter, scores two goals.