USWNT down France 2-1 in a hard-fought match to advance to the semifinals
In a matched that lived up to the hype, the USWNT defeated France in Paris 2-1 to advance to the semifnals of the World Cup behind two goals from Megan Rapinoe
BY John Halloran PostedPARIS, FRANCE – The United States women’s national team is heading to its eighth straight World Cup semifinal on the back of a 2-1 victory over France on Friday evening at the Parc des Princes.
June 28, 2019
June 28, 2019
Heading into the match, head coach Jill Ellis made no changes to the lineup she rolled out against Spain, a surprise both in its omission of star Lindsey Horan—who many believed Ellis kept out against Spain because of the danger of a yellow-card suspension—and because of the heat of both the round of 16 and quarterfinal matches and the short rest period between the two games.
Nevertheless, the Americans got off to a quick start in the contest with Julie Ertz challenging French goalkeeper Sarah Bouhaddi with a shot on goal in only the first minute of play. Then, in the fourth minute, a quick throw-in from Megan Rapinoe sprung Alex Morgan loose and forced French defender Griedge Mbock Bathy to take Morgan down, earning a yellow card.
On the ensuing kick, Rapinoe fired a low ball towards the goal that slid through several onrushing defenders and attackers and past Bouhaddi, giving the Americans the early lead.
In the 16th minute, a flurry of action looked as if it might produce a goal on each end of the field. First, a heavy touch from Kelley O’Hara forced her to step, but she didn’t get to the ball first which just opened up space for the French to exploit down the Americans’ right side.
As the ball came back to the center, Becky Sauerbrunn was left exposed and by herself in a 1 v. 1 situation near the top of the box. For a moment, she was beat, but a brilliant recovery allowed her to block the shot and spring the U.S. attack the other way.
When the ball came to Morgan near the half line, she immediately switched the point of attack and played Rapinoe in behind the French defense. However, Bouhaddi read the play well and came all the way out past the corner of her 18 to slide tackle the ball away from the American winger.
Following the flurry, both teams continued to test each other, particularly on the flanks where Crystal Dunn and Kadidiatou Diani waged a vicious battle for control on the Americans’ left.
Around the 20th minute, the French started to work their way into the match and establish more control of the ball, beginning to dominate the proceedings.
Then, in the 39th and 41st minute, the two sides traded rough fouls, first with Kelley O’Hara slamming into Amel Majri after a Rose Lavelle giveaway and then, just moments later, Lavelle was on the receiving end of a tackle from behind headed in the opposite direction.
In the final minutes of the half, Dunn and Mewis managed shots on goal and Diani got inside Dunn on the other end for a header on frame, but neither side could change the scoreline and the two sides went into the locker room with the U.S. up 1-0.
Coming into the second stanza, the Americans started just as strong as in the first. Mewis got on the ball just outside of the box and fired to the low far post. Bouhaddi could only parry the chance away, but it went straight to Tobin Heath who fired it straight back on goal. Bouhaddi saved this as well, but only for a corner which the U.S. nearly scored on after a mad scramble in the box.
Then the French, again, settled down and began to attack. In a five-minute period, four separate low clearances from U.S. defenders gave France second-chance after second chance and the Les Bleues began to put immense pressure on the American backline.
In the 58th minute, the French once again set the U.S. scrambling as a long, floated service towards the backpost left Alyssa Naeher on the ground and Le Sommer on the ball all alone. Fortunately for the U.S., the French winger fired into side netting from the tight angle.
With the Americans struggling to put anything together, Ellis put the U.S. into a five-back and a few minutes later, finally brought Horan into the game.
Against the run of play, and seemingly all odds at that particular moment of the match, the Americans scored again. In the 65th minute, Morgan picked up the ball in space and found Heath in behind on the wing. Heath’s long service went all the way on the carpet to the far post where Rapinoe was waiting. She didn’t miss and the U.S. went up 2-0 with 25 minutes to play.
The U.S. looked to have another 10 minutes later when Morgan found an overlapping Dunn on the wing. Dunn played the ball across goal to Heath, who finished the chance. However, the assistant referee adjudged Dunn to be offside on the play.
Down two goals, the French continued to try and find their way back into the game as the Americans resorted to more desperation defending. And France finally broke through in the 80th minute after a series of dicey moments. After a Kelley O’Hara foul, the French capitalized when Wendie Renard ghosted in unmarked and headed home to cut the U.S. lead in half.
Through the final whistle, the French continued to press, but could not find the equalizer and the U.S. earned their advancement to the next round.
The United States next plays England on Tuesday in Lyon at 3 p.m. ET.
John D. Halloran is an American Soccer Now columnist. Follow him on Twitter.