It’s finally here. The game that all sports analysts and women’s soccer enthusiasts have been hyping up. USA vs France. What should be a World Cup final is a now a quarterfinal that will knock out one of the top teams in the world. They win, they’ll most likely win the world cup. They lose, and this game will haunt them forever. Playing each other for the first time in a World Cup, this will be one of the hardest games the U.S has ever faced. It will be messy. It will be nervy. But if there’s anyone that knows how to fight for their lives and look badass while doing it, it’s the U.S, and they won’t go down easy.
Prior to the game, U.S captain Megan Rapinoe faces backlash after an old comment of her saying “[I’m] not going to the f**King white house if we win” surfaced. Seeing this, the president tweeted at the soccer player inviting her and the team to the white house, while also calling out Rapinoe for disrespecting the flag… on Twitter of all places. After the incident, Rapinoe addressed her comments stating she stands by what she says and went on to accept an invitation by senator AOC on Twitter who invited Megan and the team to tour the House of Reps. instead. With all eyes on her and the team, the U.S yet again has a target on their back as additional pressure and anticipation mounts.
Starting Line up: Alyssa Naeher (1), Crystal Dunn (19), Becky Sauerbrunn (4), Abby Dahlkemper (7), Kelly O’Hara (5), Sam Mewis (3), Julie Ertz (8), Rose Lavelle (16), Megan Rapinoe (15), Alex Morgan (13), Tobin Heath (17)
First half: Throughout the tournament, the U.S has scored within the first 15 minutes of the game. Against France, it’s no different as the U.S takes the lead early in the fifth minute off a Megan Rapinoe free kick after a foul is called on the French defender. Able to capitalize on the opportunity, the U.S puts in a strong defensive shift to see the first half out 1-0. With few chances created by the U.S and France maintaining most of the possession, the team allows France to have the ball and bunker in.
Second half: Coming out fresh, the USWNT returns to the field with a high tempo. Picking and choosing their moments as they come. With few chances created the team continues to bunker in and allow France to possess the ball. On the counter, the U.S wins the ball and finds Morgan who slips the ball through to right wing Tobin heath. Running down the right side, Heath passes towards the top of the eighteen past midfielder Sam Mewis who draws defenders with her as she makes a near post run. Left wide open, the ball moves slowly into the path of Rapinoe who is able to put the ball in the back of the net in the 64th minute. The U.S goes 2-0 up against France… in Paris… the audacity.
Silencing the French fans in the stadium, it seems as though they’ve won. But like the U.S, France won’t go down easy. Throwing players forward into the attack, France is able to pick up a free kick outside the box. Finding the head of 6’1 french defender Renard in the box, France is able to convert a goal in the 81st minute and get back in the game with nine minutes left to play. As the cheers and spirits of the french supporters rise, pressure rises for the U.S as they hold their line and maintain focus. Subbing in Lyndsy Horan and Christen Press, the U.S gets the victory as they finish the game playing keep away in the corner flag of the home team’s defensive half.
Overall performance: Beating France 2-0, this is the U.S’s best game of the tournament. Going into the World Cup, the team faced constant criticism for their defense and whether or not it would be good enough to win the tournament. This game proved everyone wrong. Not only did the U.S maintain their shape but they did so against one of the best teams in the world.
One of the best players on the day was left back Crystal Dunn who has faced the most backlash throughout this tournament as fans and analysts believed she was the weakness for this U.S side. Proving them wrong, Dunn dominated the left side of the field and kept French star Diani from making an impact. Another player who had a stand out performance for the U.S was the pink haired genius Megan Rapinoe. With more criticism and pressure falling on the U.S ahead of the game, Rapinoe stepped up to the occasion as she scored a second consecutive brace (the ultimate comeback for the president if I do say so myself).
With this stand out performance and a long awaited win, the U.S will take on a fresh scoring England team in the semi finals as they get one step closer to being crowned world champions for the fourth time.