2019 Women’s World Cup

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Canada’s Beckie: Sinclair asked if I wanted to take penalty v. Sweden

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Prolific forward Janine Beckie didn’t dodge cameras after her missed penalty helped seal Canada’s fate at the 2019 Women’s World Cup, and she also explained why legendary striker Christine Sinclair wasn’t at the spot.

Beckie, 24, scored two goals in Canada’s run to the bronze medal at the 2016 Olympics in Rio, and the Houston Dash forward and Texas Tech product has 25 goals in 57 caps.

[ MORE: Sweden tops Canada ]

The American-born Beckie was called upon to try to level the score against Sweden on Monday in the Round of 16, and took a solid effort which was parried by Hedvig Lindahl in an outstanding bit of goalkeeping.

“I’m confident in my penalty,” Beckie said. “I thought I hit it really well. I thought she made a really good save. It’s the big moments. It’s the moments that you live for. You get all the glory if it goes in, and you take the blame it feels like if you miss. That’ll stay with me for a long time.”

So why was she at the spot? Here’s Beckie on TSN, and Sinclair’s confirmation of the tale. As we expected, Lindahl’s success against Sinclair at the Algarve Cup played a role.

“Christine actually asked me if I wanted to take it. That’s a big moment for me and it’s gonna be hard for a while.”

Full marks for stepping up to both places: The penalty spot and the post-match interview.

Rapinoe hopes for “total (expletive) circus” around USWNT-France quarterfinal

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Megan Rapinoe is amping up the occasion, even if it really doesn’t need it.

And we love it.

The United States women’s national team, reigning World Cup champions, will meet hosts France on Friday in Paris for what will be one of the most anticipated quarterfinals in some time.

The possibility that the two group winners would meet at this point was circled on theoretical calendars since the draw, and Rapinoe is just as jazzed as the rest of us.

[ MORE: USWNT beats Spain ]

Immediately after the game, Rapinoe admitted that the second half of the USWNT’s 2-1 defeat of Spain had the team looking at each other for another level.

And she also loved the heart and soul involved in the win.

“That’s World Cup-level grit right there,” she said (video below). “You can’t replicate it. There’s no way to express it or teach it. There were a few of us on the field in the second half saying, ‘Up a level.’ They only get harder and more intense from here. Everyone’s playing for their lives.

Lindahl’s outstanding penalty save preserves Sweden win (video)

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Hedvig Lindahl saved a second half penalty to preserve Sweden’s advantage in a 1-0 win over Canada in the Women’s World Cup Round of 16 on Monday.

Stina Blackstenius scored the game’s lone goal off a terrific 55th minute pass from Kosovare Asllani.

Sweden will meet Germany as part of a Saturday quarterfinal doubleheader.

[ MORE: USWNT beats Spain ]

VAR awarded Canada its penalty after Desiree Scott’s blast from outside the 18 struck Asllani’s arm.

Janine Beckie went to her right, but Lindahl stretched to parry the torso-high drive.

It wasn’t a terrible penalty, rather a magnificent save. Still, the world was wondering why Christine Sinclair, two goals from matching Abby Wambach’s international record, didn’t go to the spot to do the business.

Perhaps the decision was made because Sinclair was saved and Beckie scored when Canada lost to Sweden in penalties during the Algarve Cup in March.

VAR then denied Sweden a chance from the spot. Ashley Lawrence committed a foul in the box, but the off-field officials spotted an offside in the build-up to keep Canada alive heading into the final stanza.

Jill Ellis must be assertive if the USWNT is to beat France

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The United States women beat Spain 2-1 on Monday in spite of their head coach, not because of her. That much is a fact.

The USWNT survived and advanced thanks to a soft late penalty in a game that saw upstart and plucky Spain rise to the challenge and go toe-to-toe with one of the best squads in the world. It didn’t have to be that way.

Jill Ellis had about four or five potential substitutions staring her in the face as early as halftime, and yet she didn’t make her first change until the 85th minute, a frankly inexcusable fact. If she remains that passive against France in the quarterfinals, the United States will be headed home faster than you can say “free Carli Lloyd.” While the U.S. eventually came out victorious thanks to a soft penalty with 15 minutes to go, the sigh of relief does not exonerate Ellis on the day she matched the USWNT career games coached record.

Ellis said before the match that both Alex Morgan and Julie Ertz, who had missed World Cup group stage time with minor injuries, were “fine.” It was obvious that Morgan was not “fine” as she appeared to be running with a piano on her back, unable to make her trademark runs between the lines and nowhere to be found on counter-attacks. At one point in the second half, Morgan found herself on the ball down the right flank in acres of space, and instead of charging into the space, she waited for a defender to close her down before firing a speculative long-ball towards the box that deflected off the defender and landed harmlessly in front of the Spanish goalkeeper.

If it wasn’t clear Morgan was injured by her play on the field, it was obvious as the game wound down when, as she was set to take the second penalty, a switch was made to Rapinoe during the VAR review – if Ellis knew Morgan was too hurt to take a viable penalty, how could she possibly contribute in open play? With Carli Lloyd and Christen Press on the bench, Ellis fell asleep at the wheel, instead preferring to see a hampered Morgan trudge around the pitch for 85 minutes before mercifully making a change well after the U.S. had retaken the lead in fortunate fashion.

While Morgan toiled up front to little return, Megan Rapinoe also had one of her worst games in a USWNT shirt down the left flank, despite her brace from the spot. The U.S. co-captain was continually dispossessed, choosing to barge into defenders and fall over rather than look to beat them one-on-one and deliver her patented vicious crosses from deep in the corner. Rapinoe’s Spanish marks Marta Corredera and Lucia Garcia down their right were more than up to the task, continually stopping Rapinoe in her tracks and flipping possession. With Mallory Pugh ready to go on the bench, Ellis was again caught napping as Rapinoe faded further and further into oblivion. She was almost invisible in the second half, at one point receiving the ball for a counter-attack and slamming on the brakes, ending the danger with a back-pass that forced Fox commentator JP Dellacamera to incredulously exclaim – after a moment to process the ruined opportunity – “It seemed like it was on.” You could feel him shaking his head.

Finally, there was the pre-match decision to sit Lindsay Horan, one of the most valuable U.S. players. While it’s difficult to criticize the decision to leave Horan out – with the midfielder on a yellow card, a calculated risk to sit her before a potential meeting with France is an understandable and defensible strategy, even if some may not agree – her decision to then bring Horan on with one minute remaining in regulation and seven minutes of stoppage time was absolutely unthinkable. The end of an overly physical game is a breeding ground for a late flurry of cautions, and if Horan had sat the majority of a tough match before coming on in garbage time to earn a suspension against France would have been utterly deplorable.

Ellis had a plethora of possible substitutions at her disposal, each of which would have likely swung the game in the U.S.’s favor, and yet she sat on her hands for 85 minutes before the game was in hand. Tobin Heath took a beating in the second half and could have used a change as the game wore on. Becky Sauerbrunn hardly covered herself in glory on occasion. Sam Mewis and Rose Lavelle were the best players on the pitch but had little help in the final third.

But don’t take my word for it, take Andy’s.

With a highly anticipated quarterfinal against France now confirmed, Ellis must be far more assertive on the touchline if the United States is to match up against an opponent who can match them not just physically but also technically. No disrespect to Spain, who deserve all the credit in the world for not only bringing a disrupting amount of situational physicality to the pitch but also a superior tactical game plan, but the test on Friday against France will be even more difficult. As a fellow favorite to win the title and as host nation sure to draw a hostile environment for the Americans, France will prove a worthy opponent and have all the talent needed to prove a legitimate threat. It wasn’t easy for the French either in the Round of 16, needing an extra-time goal from Amandine Henry to squeeze by a down Brazil side, but they will still be up to the task.

After the stinker against Spain, the U.S. head coach must be up to it as well, or the Stars & Stripes will be going home from the 2019 World Cup disappointingly early, and will only have themselves to blame. Against France, there will be moments where a substitution will be necessary to regain hold of the game or fill a gap the opponent is good enough to exploit. Jill Ellis must face the truth: there’s nowhere to hide against the hosts, and the only way to get by such a daunting task will be an aggressive approach off the bench.

USWNT edge past Spain to reach World Cup quarters (video)

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The U.S. women’s national team made hard work of it, but they beat Spain 2-1 in Reims on Monday to set up a clash with hosts France in the 2019 World Cup quarterfinals.

With the win the USWNT also kept their proud record intact of reaching at least the last eight of every World Cup in history, as they’ve never previously fallen before the semifinal stage.

A penalty kick in each half from USWNT captain Megan Rapinoe did the damage as a physical Spanish side pushed the USA all the way as Jenni Hermoso’s fine goal after a defensive mix-up made it 1-1 following Rapinoe’s early penalty kick.

However, a PK with 15 minutes to go, which was checked by VAR, saw Rapinoe send the USWNT through to a last eight clash with hosts France at the Parc des Princes on Friday.

[ MORE: Latest Women’s World Cup news ]

Spain almost scored in the opening moments of the game as a sweeping move found Patri Guijarro but her powerful shot was blocked bravely by Becky Sauerbrunn.

Moments later the USWNT were ahead.

Tobin Heath won a penalty kick inside the first five minutes as her sublime first touch resulted in a clumsy tackle from Spain’s Mapi Leon which brought Heath down. Rapinoe calmly dispatched the spot kick to make it 1-0.

 

However, Spain were level less than two-and-a-half minutes later after an awful defensive mistake from the USWNT.

Goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher passed the ball to Sauerbrunn but she was closed down quickly and Hermoso chipped home the loose ball brilliantly to make it 1-1. Game on.

The flow of the game continued to be frantic as Rapinoe was set free by Rose Lavelle and she forced Spain’s goalkeeper Sandra Panos to save at her near post. Julie Ertz then smashed over from a good position as the USWNT looked more dangerous, but Spain continued to press high up the pitch whenever they could and caused the U.S. problems.

In the second half Spain disrupted the USA’s flow with plenty of strong challenges as the game turned into a scrappy encounter.

Rose Lavelle drilled a shot from distance just over as the USWNT clicked through the gears in the final third of the game. But at the other end Spain were dangerous on the counter as Patricio Guijarro surged into the box and her shot was inches wide.

The excellent Lavelle then won a penalty kick 15 minutes from time as she was clipped in the box and after a VAR review, the referee upheld her original decision.

After a lengthy delay Rapinoe stepped up to score her second penalty of the game to make it 2-1 and send the USWNT into the quarterfinals of the World Cup where they will face France in Paris on Friday.