World Cup: USWNT pile on the intensity, drama in 2-1 victory over England

USWNT vs. England
LYON, FRANCE — JULY 02: Alyssa Naeher of the USA celebrates victory with her team mates as they mob her after the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup France Semi Final match between England and USA at Stade de Lyon on July 02, 2019 in Lyon, France. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images).

Lyon, France (July 2, 2019) — “She saved our ass.”

That’s what Alex Morgan said after the United States Women’s National Team claimed a 2-1 victory over England. But, who is “she?” That would be Alyssa Naeher. The Chicago Red Stars goalkeeper and No. 1 goalkeeper for the USWNT had the game she’s been waiting to have at the World Cup.

World Cup: USWNT pile on the intensity, drama in 2-1 victory over England

Naeher saved the United States — literally. After a goal from Ellen White was called offside, England began firing on all cylinders. Naeher stepped up to the plate when called upon. That moment was a penalty kick, taken by Steph Houghton.

However, the penalty didn’t phase Naeher. She’s stopped them before and this was just another moment. However, this moment was different, because this time she was on the world’s biggest stage. If Naeher didn’t make the save, there could’ve been a realistic chance that the USWNT wouldn’t make their fifth-straight World Cup final.

That didn’t happen though. Naeher saved the game with a big-time stop against Houghton. After the match, Naeher said that “nothing” went through her mind.

“I think for me, I just took a few deep breaths and tried to stay focused,” Naeher said. “I got a pep talk from Christen Press about six months ago telling me I needed to be more positive on penalty kicks. She told me to relax and let instincts take over. I give her some credit on that one, for sure, for keeping me calm. It feels good. Take a few deep breaths and try to get a good jump on it.”

“The team celebrated that like we celebrate a goal.”

Naeher wasn’t the only star of the show. Alex Morgan scored the game-winning goal in the 31st minute. She is now the first-ever player to score a World Cup goal in her birthday, as she turned 30-years-old today.

Christen Press, who started the match over an injured Megan Rapinoe, found the goal first, in the 10th minute, off a header.

The Goals and Saves for the USWNT and England

Three Takeaways

  1. No, Ellis is not a magician: Calm down before giving all sorts of hype and praise to Jill Ellis. Once it was announced that Megan Rapinoe was dealing with a hamstring injury, all of the magic cards were put away. Putting Press in over Rapinoe almost seemed like blasphemy. However, all Ellis did was go to the next person. That’s nothing against Press; she deserved her moment to shine and did well with it. However, Ellis is not some tactical mastermind. She just did what any coach would do with an injured player.
  2. The shaky offside call: Ellen White looked to be onside, but the referee though different. There will be arguments made from the English fans that VAR referees should have taken longer to look at the goal. However, it wasn’t necessary in their eyes. However, Ellen White should have nothing taken away from her performance at the World Cup. Six goals is an impressive feat. In all honesty, it’s more impressive than the six Morgan scored, since five of those came from a Thailand team that hardly put up a fight.
  3. Rose Lavelle can’t catch a break: Rose Lavelle is such a great player when she is healthy. When she isn’t, it’s disaster for whatever team she’s on, whether it’s the national team or her club, Washington Spirit. Lavelle left the match early in the second half. She clearly mouthed the words, “It’s my hamstring.” However, after the match, she told reporters that her hamstring would be fine.

What’s Next? 

The USWNT will await the winner of the Netherlands and Sweden match up. This is an interesting contest. Sweden has shocked the likes of Canada and Germany to reach the semifinals. Now, they have the European champions in their way.

The United States and Sweden also featured against each other already during the tournament. In the last day of group play, the United States defeated Sweden, 2-0. If they face off again, there’s a chance that Sweden will be hungry for revenge.

 

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