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Team USA forges own identity — dominance

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United States’ Carli Lloyd and Abby Wambach, right, embrace as the team celebrates their win over Japan following the second half of the FIFA Women’s World Cup soccer championship. (Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT

Fans jumped up and down and waved flags and screamed chants outside the Civic Center early Sunday night. Car horns honked and police sirens blared.

And the Giants or the Warriors or a public protest had nothing to do with it.

The United States won the Women’s World Cup, and the Girls of Summer did it their way.

If the 1999 champions were a team of destiny, this one will be remembered for its dominance. Team USA forged its own identity in a 5-2 whuppin’ of Japan that was over almost as soon as it started. No U.S. team came up bolder or better on a bigger stage in recent memory, maybe ever.

“Heck, yeah!” coach Jill Ellis said afterward. “I’ll take this one any day!”

Whereas the ’99 champs were extended to extra time, these left nothing to doubt this time. They scored twice in the first five minutes, and in soccer, a two-goal lead might as well be a 22-goal lead. No loser scored more than two goals in the previous seven FIFA championship games. And in the seven third-place games, for that matter.

Heck, Carli Lloyd scored three goals in the first 16 minutes herself. The third goal was the knockout punch, a ridiculous 54-yarder from just inside midfield that put an indelible stamp on the greatest singular performance in U.S. soccer history. Ms. Clutch also scored the clincher in the 69th minute against favored Germany in the semifinals.

“Speechless,” said Lloyd, who could have scored four or five goals and even ran over a goaltender while she was at it. “Honestly, I’m so proud of this team.”

Now that USA women have become the first team to record three World Cup titles, so should we all.

ARE THEY HOME YET?: The up-again, down-again Giants limped home after a 0-6 road trip, which concluded with the ejections of Ryan Vogelsong and manager Bruce Bochy in a 3-1 loss to the Washington Nationals.

The three-game series in Washington had three different start times, hardly the ideal circumstances for a West Coast team. Yet the problems started in Miami, where the last-place Marlins were without Giancarlo Stanton, their best player.

It’s premature to be frantic about the Champs’ postseason chances, but it’s not too early for baseball brains Bobby Evans and Brian Sabean to inquire about a starting pitcher, an outfielder and a utility infielder before the trade deadline.

CONNECT THE DOTS: Josh Reddick was a vocal critic of trade of his friend Josh Donaldson, whose run-in with Athletics general manager Billy Beane preceded the move. In a post-game radio interview last week, Reddick called out “our general manager” as the reason for his limited role against left-handers. Then he apologized.

TRANSLATION REQUIRED: At a business conference in Israel the other day, Cleveland Cavaliers coach David Blatt referred to LeBron James as Moses and predicted his team would win the NBA title. But since this is the same guy who has been known to lose track of timeouts in a playoff game, Balls wonders if the man isn’t a bit confused here.

Since Moses never reached the promised land, did Blatt really mean James and the Cavaliers were doomed to 40 years of frustration? Or did he confuse James with Moses Malone. OK, Isaac (Black Moses) Hayes then?

As for the championship talk, the real question is whether Blatt will be around if and when it ever happens. Because now that team owner Dan Gilbert has agreed to shell out as much as $90 million in luxury tax money, he and Moses won’t put up with another 19-20 start like last season.

THE REAL WEENIES: At a time when nearly one of seven households in this country struggles to put food on the table, there’s no bigger or more obscene waste than the Nathan’s (In)Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest.

The nationally televised Fourth of July gluttonfest is supposed to generate some cheap belly laughs, Balls guesses, but it can’t think of anything funny about animals who have their tails and even testicles cut off before they’re led to slaughterhouses, all so Nathan’s, ESPN and a few overweight contestants can pocket some meal money.

Thankfully, Balls isn’t alone. What the Four-letter Network neglected to show us were the protesters who carried signs that read “It’s Not Food It’s Violence” and “Can Taste Justify the Killing?” and “Animals Are Not Ours” in front of the stage. They also chanted “Are You Willing to Stop the Killing?!”

If there’s money to be made, that’s a silly question.

SHARK BAIT: The addition of veteran power forward Joel Ward makes an old, past-its-prime Sharks team even older and more past its prime yet. Six of its top 12 skaters are 30 years or older.

At least the 34-year-old Ward has a positive postseason history, which will make him easier to dump next spring.

THE LIST: Projected over-under win totals for major college football teams in the state, courtesy of Bovada:

Cal 5

Fresno State 4

San Diego State 7½

San Jose State 4

Stanford 9


USC 8½

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