Three things we learned: USA v. Netherlands
The USWNT beat the Netherlands to win their second-straight World Cup title, as the U.S. women’s national team dominated from start to finish.
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Goals from Megan Rapinoe and Rose Lavelle did the damage against a dogged Dutch side, as it was far from a classic final but the U.S. will not care about that at all as they once again outworked their opponents and broke them down.
Here’s what we learned from a tight, tense final in Lyon which burst into life in a few second half minutes.
VAR DOES ITS JOB
The pivotal moment of the game arrive in the 61st minute as Alex Morgan went down in the box under a challenge from Stefanie van der Gragt and VAR was used to correctly award the USA a penalty kick. It was the right call and that is why VAR is around.
The Netherlands dug deep to try and put the USWNT off their game, with plenty of late tackles and forceful moments from the European champions. But it wasn’t enough as Rapinoe scored her third penalty kick in a tournament dominated by VAR penalty kicks. In the end, whatever you think about VAR, it did its job in the final.
USWNT PRAGMATIC, PUNISHING
Sure, we’d all like to see the USWNT score more goals and play a more attractive style but you can’t argue with the way they have completely dominated this World Cup. Ellis set this team up to be solid in midfield as Rose Lavelle, Sam Mewis and Julie Ertz totally shut down Dutch playmaker Danielle van de Donk, with Lavelle’s runs from central areas caused the Netherlands plenty of problems.
For all of their attacking weapons, as the stat above suggests, the play of the USWNT’s full backs, center backs and defensive-minded central midfielders stole the show in the final and in the knockout round wins against France and England.
The 13-0 win against Thailand somewhat blurred the amount of goals the U.S. scored in France, but this was a totally composed and balanced World Cup performance throughout as Ellis had her tactics questioned but she got all of the big calls correct. The U.S. weren’t beautiful to watch but they got the job done with minimum fuss as their strong squad was rotated expertly by Ellis.
BEST WORLD CUP EVER
Amid TV viewing audiences breaking records across the globe, there’s no doubt this was the best women’s World Cup in history. It has captured the imagination of millions across the world and with FIFA stating its plans to expand the tournament to 32 teams in the future, as well as promising to double the prize money, this tournament will only get bigger and better.
The USWNT were the deserved champions this summer. But all of women’s soccer won after a fine tournament which proved that the level of play is improving rapidly in Europe and other areas of the globe.
Most importantly interest levels have increased exponentially, as talking points were plentiful as Rapinoe and Co. will be seen as true pioneers.