As the Women’s World Cup groups were drawn back in December 2018 and pundits began playing out possible scenarios, one that excited the masses was a potential matchup between the United States and France in the quarterfinals. On Friday evening, the dream matchup was finally realized.
It was a heavyweight matchup for the ages as two of the premier football federations battled for the right to take on England in the semifinals. It was a gritty battle but after the dust settled, the U.S. stood tall with a 2-1 victory against the host nation.
Forward Megan Rapinoe got the Stars & Stripes going early. She converted a low free kick from the near side, perfectly navigating it through three players and past French goalkeeper Sarah Bouhaddi. She wasn’t done there, Rapinoe continued to put the French defense under extreme duress throughout the opening minutes.
In the 13th minute, Rapinoe found Alex Morgan with a great through ball. The forward took a quick shot but it was collected comfortably by Bouhaddi. Three minutes later Rapinoe was one-on-one with Bouhaddi but the goalkeeper met her at the top of the 18-yard box with a great sliding challenge to end the attack.
France attempted to mount attacks but defenders Julie Ertz, Abby Dahlkemper, and Becky Sauerbrunn did their best to insure that wouldn’t happen. The trio registered several blocks to keep the U.S. advantage in tact.
The Stars & Stripes began the second half with a fierce attack, earning a quick corner kick in the opening seconds. France responded with a precise and sustained attack led by Eugénie Le Sommer and Kadidiatou Diani.
Ertz and Dahlkemper held the French duo in check by not allowing them a quality scoring opportunity. The stellar defense allowed the U.S. to extend its lead in the 65th minute. Tobin Heath led the USWNT counter attack down the right hand side. The midfielder played a cross into the penalty area that skipped past Sam Mewis and founded an unmarked Rapinoe on the back post. She slotted home the opportunity to extend the lead to 2-0.
In the 75th minute it appeared the U.S. found a third goal to put the game out of reach, but it was denied by the assistant referee as Crystal Dunn was whistled offside.
The host nation made things interesting in the final 10 minutes. Defender Wendie Renard headed home a close range opportunity in the 81st minute to close the gap to 2-1. Solid defense frustrated France in the closing moments of the match, allowing the Stars & Stripes to claim the 2-1 victory and advance to the semi-final against England.
Rapinoe for President
It’s been a tumultuous week for the American forward. She drew the ire of the American President but soldiered on with the support of fans and teammates. Rapinoe represents a diverse and inclusive United States.
Whether you like it or not.
Women of the Match
After picking up an injury earlier in the tournament, Julie Ertz was spectacular in this game. The midfielder teamed with Abby Dahlkemper and Becky Sauerbrunn to silence a potent French attack. Ertz’s dominant presence will be needed in the midfield as the focus now shifts to England next week.
Friday’s big win against France sets up another clash with a top federation next week. The USWNT will face England on July 2 in Lyon. Kickoff is scheduled for 3 p.m. ET.