The knockout stage turned out a bit more difficult for the United States Women’s National Team, yet like World Cup’s past, the USWNT has reached the semifinals. This past week, the US won two thrillers. First, they defeated Spain in the round of 16 by a score of 2-1, with Megan Rapinoe scoring two goals on penalty kicks, and then defeated France in the quarterfinals by a score of 2-1 with Rapinoe again scoring both goals. On the scoresheet, it was Rapinoe’s turn to be in the spotlight with all of the US goals in the knockout stage up to this point.
I personally was unable to watch the Spain match due to work until the last few minutes of stoppage time. I was able to watch the France match in its entirety and it was a thrilling match. My first takeaway is that neither team played an ideal game. Passes were missed (especially for France), turnovers were committed, and some overall sloppy play was noticeable throughout the match. Overall, it appeared as if France had the better of the play for much of the match, controlling more possession, especially in the second half. France took 20 shots compared to 10 for the US and had seven corner kicks compared to three for the US. However, the counterattack of the United States was stronger and more skillful, giving the US the advantage.
The early goal by Rapinoe was shocking in that the ball got through three or four defenders to find the net and was barely deflected, if at all. The second goal was a great run by Tobin Heath and a perfectly placed pass across the penalty area. The French defenders appeared to have lost Rapinoe on the far side as she scored without an ounce of pressure. The 2-1 scoreline ultimately should have been 3-1, as a goal by Heath was called back on an offsides, but replay showed that Crystal Dunn, who started the play was clearly onside. At the time, the score would have been 3-0, but instead remained a two-goal margin and France responded by scoring in the 81st minute on a set piece. The finish saw France miss a couple of chances immediately after scoring their goal, followed by the US forcing key turnovers down the stretch. The possession in stoppage time by the US was arguably their best throughout the game.
With all that recap in mind, the USWNT has reached the semifinals and will take on England on Tuesday. Kickoff is at 3:00 pm ET.