Face It, the US Choked 'It wasn’t a lack of skill. It was a lack of nerve,' Brian Straus argues By Kevin Spak, Newser Staff Posted Jul 18, 2011 1:36 PM CDT 14 comments Comments United States' Heather O Reilly reacts after losing on penalties at the final match between Japan and the United States at the Women’s Soccer World Cup in Frankfurt, Germany, Sunday, July 17, 2011. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez) (Newser) – Make excuses if you like, but after watching the Women’s World Cup final, Brian Straus came to just one conclusion: “The Americans, quite simply, choked on the sport’s biggest stage,” he writes for Sporting News. The US should have put this thing away in the first 30 minutes. After all, "Japan started the game as if suffering from a hangover," he quips. But the US "lacked the ruthlessness of a champion," squandering "chance after glorious scoring chance." And then came some of the most dreadful penalty kicks you’ll ever see. "Many call penalty kicks a lottery. They’re not," Straus insists. "It’s a test of poise and grace under extreme pressure. And the US failed." The US may have shown teamwork and fortitude in this tournament, but "Japan proved emphatically that those qualities aren’t uniquely American." Our rival "fought until two final whistles and beyond. That, in the end, was the difference."