The United States women’s national soccer team took on England in the semifinal match of the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup. The U.S. played in a 3-3-4 set-up, with the dangerous combination of Tobin Heath, Alex Morgan and Christen Press to lead the team. The U.S.’ defenders were in for a tough match, trying to hold up against the likes of Lucy Bronze, Ellen White, Keira Walsh and Rachel Daly. The match was a physical one, with both teams fighting to secure their spot in the finals. The U.S. came out on top, winning 2-1, with goals from Press and Morgan and a glorious penalty kick save from goalie Alyssa Naeher. With the semifinal game under their belts and the final match of the tournament just days ahead, here is what we learned from today’s game:
CP 23 is underrated on the team
Christen Press finally got her start over Megan Rapinoe during Tuesday’s semifinal match. Opening up the game with a goal in the 10th minute to put the U.S. up 1-0, Press proved how important her role is on the team. Ever since her first call up back in 2013, Press has made over 120 appearances in the red, white and blue uniform and scored just under 50 times in those appearances. Plus, her skill and leadership on the team is unmatched. Whether she is scoring a goal or making a play for someone else, Press is constantly working. Her speed and ability to not only make a play but also finish plays is the reason she should be starting. She is completely underrated on the USWNT, and her performance in today’s game should solidify her spot as a starter.
We went from a brick wall defense to barely holding it together
In the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup, the U.S.’ defense got the majority of the credit for the win of the tournament. That, however, is not the case for the current World Cup. With Julie Ertz moving up to the midfield position and Crystal Dunn getting shifted to left back, the U.S. defense is in shambles, and veteran player Ali Krieger sits on the bench with wasted potential. Abby Dahlkemper keeps reminding fans how young she is to the national team today. Between getting caught watching the ball and making risky knocks against the opposing English forwards in the box, the young defender still has a lot to learn. However, if the U.S. were to shift Kelley O’Hara to left back, move Dunn back to her spot in midfield and bring Krieger on as right back, the young player would have more room to make the mistakes she did against England — but with little repercussions.
Horan and Lavelle are filling the gaps left by retirements from the last World Cup
Ever since the retirement of Lauren Cheney and many other playmakers on the 2015 winning team, the U.S. has been trying to fill the gaps. Today’s game against England shows the vital role that Lindsey Horan and Rose Lavelle are playing to fill those gaps. From Lindsey’s outstanding ball in to Alex Morgan that put the USWNT up 2-1 to the savvy and creative playmaking of Lavelle, these two young players are forces. Horan’s balls into the box and her life in the midfield role truly are a reminder of the role Cheney played on the team. With Lavelle’s quick and creative footwork, she is quickly rising up like current midfielder Tobin Heath. These two players were vital in the win over England, and they’ll most likely be vital in the forthcoming final match on Sunday.
That is not the passing play of a winning team
This game against England might have sent us to the finals for the World Cup, but it also showed what needs to change in order to win. Between giving up easy balls by making the wrong pass to just completely being out passed by the English team, the USWNT needs to get to work. The passing game they played did not look like a World-Cup-winning team. The U.S. needs to buckle down and work on their passes. They gave up too many easy balls by sending it right to the feet of an English player. If they perfect their passing plays, they will be stronger for the final, and it could lead to fewer shots on their own goal.
“A goalkeeper doesn’t win games. They save games.” – Hope Solo
Coming out from underneath the shadows of Hope Solo is no easy feat. With only seven appearances under her belt when Solo’s contract was terminated, Alyssa Naeher quickly rose up to the challenge that being the number one goalkeeper came with. Looking shaky in the beginning games of her first major tournament, Naeher was written off. After today’s game against England, which included a game-saving penalty kick save from the goalkeeper, it is clear Naeher is finally out of Solo’s shadow and becoming her own. While she still has a lot of growing to do in the role, after the game against England, she showed that the number one spot is hers.
The final game of the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup will air Sunday at 11 a.m. on Fox.