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Rampone, O'Hara give Sky Blue FC fans something to cheer about

Captain goes out hoisting World Cup trophy; O'Hara plays key role in triumph

Michael Chow-USA TODAY Sports

It's funny the way the Soccer Gods sort things out.

Six months ago, Christie Rampone, the U.S. Women's National Team and Sky Blue FC captain, was set to once again anchor the American's backline from central defense until an injury left her playing a substitute's role. And teammate Kelley O'Hara was willing to do whatever coach Jill Ellis wanted her to do - which for four games was to sit on the substitute bench.

But tonight, they are both World Cup champions after the 5-2 win over Japan in Vancouver.

Rampone was able to get the proper sendoff deserving of someone who played in her fifth Women's World Cup and became the oldest player to appear in the event.  Reduced to 10 minutes on the field against Nigeria in Group play, Rampone was subbed on in the final 5 minutes against Japan. She was on the field for the final whistle and the celebration that followed. She and Abby Wambach were the last two Americans to receive their medals and co-hoisted the trophy above their heads.

It was an iconic moment for the striker and defender - the goal-scorer and the captain - as they made their final World Cup appearances. Perhaps both can thanks Carli Lloyd. Lloyd's 16-minute hat trick gave the United States an unsurmountable lead and allowed Ellis to honor their outgoing stars.

The third sub was O'Hara - an unlikely key component when the tournament began. She didn't play during the group matches nor did she get of the bench in the underwhelming 2-0 win over Colombia. With everyone in America seemingly wanting to pick Ellis' lineup, her name was rarely mentioned. She got the surprise start against China and her aggressiveness and speed jump-started the Americans to 1-0 lead. She came off the bench again to seal the semifinal victory over Germany with an insurance goal.

She played 20-plus minutes in the final and was being proclaimed by commentator Eric Wenyalda as the ultimate team player.

Both will return to the Sky Blue FC - maybe as soon as this Saturday's rematch versus Portland Thorns FC. And it's been a dismal three months for Sky Blue and its fans. They are immersed in a 10-game winless streak and are slowly looking at missing the playoffs again.

But for a couple of weeks - and especially one historic night - the Sky Blue FC and its fans can be proud of Rampone and O'Hara.

The Soccer Gods made sure of that.