Alex Morgan

AP Photo / David Vincent

PST’s Women’s World Cup Best XI


The Women’s World Cup concluded its best run yet with the United States women’s national team’s 2-0 defeat of the Netherlands on Sunday, the fourth title and second-successive World Cup for the ladies of the red, white, and blue.

There will be temptations from some to give the USWNT approximately 11 out of 11 spots on a Best XI, but let’s face it: The best team didn’t often have its best game during its unbeaten run through France.

[ MORE: What we learned about the USMNT this summer ]

Some are no-doubters: Having this team without Julie Ertz or Kelley O’Hara would be criminal. But there are a lot of tough decisions here.

Should a quarterfinalist get a player on the XI, given that France lost to the champions in a brutal draw? How many USWNT players should make it? Alex Morgan did all her statistical damage in one match, but did so much that doesn’t show up on the score sheet. And how do we pick three center backs when the best defenders were out wide?

Ultimately, we’re playing a right back out of position because we can, because Julie Ertz is going to clean up a lot of messes, and because this team will never take the field: It’s a post on the Information Superhighway.

Sari van Veenendaal (Netherlands)

O’Hara (USWNT) — Wendie Renard (France) — Lucy Bronze (England)

Kosovare Asllani (Sweden) — Ertz (USWNT) — Rose Lavelle (USWNT) — Sherida Spitse (Netherlands)

Megan Rapinoe (USWNT) — Alex Morgan (USWNT) — Ellen White (England)

This was tough. Who was our most egregious omission?

2019 World Cup award winners announced

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The 2019 Women’s World Cup is over, and the awards have been dished out.

Unsurprisingly the World Cup champs, the USWNT, dominate the award winners as the USA secured back-to-back titles with minimum fuss throughout the month long extravaganza in France.

[ MORE: 3 things we learned |  Player ratings

Here’s a look at the award winners in full, as there will be plenty of debate over some of these awards.

Golden Ball (Tournament MVP)

Golden Ball: Megan Rapinoe – USA
Silver Ball: Lucy Bronze – England
Bronze Ball: Rose Lavelle – USA

Golden Boot (Top goalscorer)

Golden boot: Megan Rapinoe – USA (Six goals, three assists, fewer minutes played than Morgan)
Silver boot: Alex Morgan – USA (Six goals, three assists)
Bronze boot: Ellen White – England (Six goals)

Golden glove (Best Goalkeeper)

Sari van Veenendaal – Netherlands

Young player of the tournament (Under 21 years old)

Giulia Gwinn – Germany

FIFA Fair Play trophy


Preview: USWNT faces Netherlands in World Cup final

Photo by Naomi Baker - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images

The U.S. women’s national team’s quest to defend its crown as world champions has but one final hurdle to clear: a World Cup final clash with the Netherlands in Lyon, France, on Sunday (11 a.m. ET).

[ VIDEO: Alex Morgan hits out at reaction to tea celebration ]

For one side — the defending champion Americans — an appearance in the final was assumed a foregone conclusion before the tournament kicked off. Beginning with the 13 goals they scored against Thailand in their opening game of the group stage, that expectation never once changed, not even the tiniest little bit. The rest of the group stage was a straightforward endeavor; followed a tougher-than-expected challenge from Spain in the round of 16; then, the big one, taking on host nation and second-favorites France in the quarterfinals; and England didn’t go down without a fight in the semifinals, but the Yanks wouldn’t be denied a crack at the program’s fourth World Cup trophy and star above the crest.

The Dutch, on the other hand, entered this summer’s tournament with little fanfare — in comparison to the USWNT — but were widely tipped an under-the-radar favorite to make some noise. A run to the final would have been unexpected, but far from outlandish. The Oranje women, in just their second all-time appearance at the World Cup, no longer reside on the fringes of the world’s best. New Zealand, Cameroon and Canada proved no test for the Netherlands in the group stage, as they finished with nine out of nine points; Japan’s quest for a third straight final was snuffed out in the round of 16; they simply outlasted a game Italian side in the quarters; and they needed 120 minutes to dispatch Sweden in the semis.

[ MORE: Man United “in the process” of selling Paul Pogba ]

After playing six games in 21 days, the USWNT isn’t without a handful of nagging injuries. The likes of Megan Rapinoe (hamstring), Rose Lavelle (hamstring) and Alex Morgan (undisclosed) have all missed time due to what they each referred to as minor injuries, though they expect to be available on Sunday. Rapinoe didn’t play in — or warm up for — the England game, but has since said she’s recovering well from her “minor strain.” With five goals in four appearances, Rapinoe trails Morgan by a single goal in the race for the Golden Boot.

If there’s one team at this tournament that could keep stride with the Americans’ abundance of attacking talent — at least, among the two sides’ starting groups — it’s the Dutch. Vivianne Miedema (three goals) and Lieke Martens (two goals) have won plenty of accolades thus far as standout performers, while six other players have also scored a goal. Only the Americans (nine) can boast of more goal-scorers than the Netherlands’ eight. Martens picked up an injury of her own during Wednesday’s semifinal and her status for Sunday is up in the air.

[ MORE: Barcelona president says Antoine Griezmann talks underway ]

While much of the talk prior to and during the World Cup has been about the closing of the once-vast gap between the USWNT and the rest of the world, should the Americans reign supreme at the conclusion of back-to-back tournaments, they will have won their second straight in the most difficult of fashions possible: running the toughest possible gauntlet in the knockout rounds, culminating in a final triumph over the reigning European champions.

So much more than that is on the line for the USWNT. Individually, Morgan can stake her claim to a place in the “best to ever do it” conversation; Carli Lloyd will almost certainly be taking the field for a competitive fixture for the final time; the same goes for Becky Sauerbrunn and (probably also) Rapinoe; and Jill Ellis can silence her critics once and for all if she becomes the only women’s coach ever to successfully defend a World Cup title.

VIDEO: Alex Morgan hits out at reaction to tea celebration

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Alex Morgan isn’t happy with the uproar about her tea-sipping goal celebration after she scored the game-winner against England in the World Cup semifinal.

[ MORE: USA lineup for WC final?

The USWNT forward, 30, sipped an imaginary cup of tea with her pinky out, and many believed it was poking fun at England’s obsession with tea and a nod to the Boston Tea Party, with the goal coming just a few days before the Fourth of July.

Morgan spoke to journalists in Lyon ahead of Sunday’s World Cup final against the Netherlands, and apparently the celebration below was nothing about the British.

So, what was it about?

“My celebration was actually more about, ‘That’s the tea’, which is telling a story, spreading news,” Morgan said. “Sophie Turner does it quite often, she’s one of my favorite actresses, so it wasn’t a hit to England in any way… I feel that there is some sort of double standard for females in sports to feel like we have to be humble in our successes and have to celebrate, but not too much, and have to do something but it always has to be in a limited fashion.”

On Morgan’s point about the double standard, would this tea-sipping celebration have been as big of a deal had, for example, USMNT star Christian Pulisic performed it after scoring against England in a World Cup semifinal in 2026?

“You see men celebrating all over the world in big tournaments, grabbing their sacks or whatever it is,” Morgan added. “And when I look at sipping a cup of tea, I am a little taken aback by the criticism.”

Morgan thinks Pulisic would be treated differently and the outrage (mostly from Brits who felt mocking tea was bordering on a declaration of war) was over the top.

It’s tough to disagree with her, as the USWNT’s every move, and celebrations, have been watched very closely in this tournament after their 13-0 shellacking of Thailand in their first group game.

Morgan also revealed she will celebrate a goal in the World Cup final just as enthusiastically on Sunday, so it will be intriguing to see what kind of celebration she pulls out for the Dutch or if tea-sipping stays.

In the meantime, drink it in…

USWNT Player Ratings from thriller v. England

AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino

The defending champs are one win from a repeat, and some terrific performances helped the USWNT get to a fifth Women’s World Cup Final.

[ MORE: Match recap | 3 things ]

The Yanks are 3-1 in those matches, but before let’s spend some time on the aforementioned performances before we learn whether that record will go to 4-1 or 3-2.

Starting XI

Alyssa Naeher — 9 — One of the title defense’s biggest question marks has been a monumental star in the wins over France and England.

Crystal Dunn — 7 — She’s only gotten better as the tournament progresses, and teams are going to target the center backs rather than mess with Dunn or Kelley O’Hara

Abby Dahlkemper — 5 — Gives the team a lot moving forward, but she struggled at the back.

Becky Sauerbrunn — 4 — Gave away the late penalty after she was beaten again by Ellen White. Just a poor night for the center backs.

Kelley O’Hara (Off 88′) — 7 — Couldn’t quite block the cross on England’s goal, but was again a bulldog on the right.

Lindsey Horan — 7 — The performance they needed to allow Lavelle to be her creative best.

Julie Ertz — 7 — Steady as usual despite plenty of reason to be nervous about the performances behind her.

Rose Lavelle (Off 65′) — 8 — A superstar showing from the 24-year-old Cincinnati native. The space she created can only be measured in acres.

Christen Press — 8 — Many wanted to see her in place of Megan Rapinoe all tournament, and the tough, fast winger only missed one beat. Great in hold up and scored the opener, but could’ve easily had a 9 and a match-salting assist had she not rushed a wild shot late.

Alex Morgan — 8 — We know she scored five goals against Thailand, but it’s fair to say this was still her best match of the tournament. A dynamic run and splendid headed finish after being floored in the 18 earlier in the match. She’s not bullied.

Tobin Heath (Off 80′)– 7 — Flashy? Of course, but Heath again showed her grit over the length of the pitch.


Sam Mewis (On 65′) — 7 — Job done.

Carli Lloyd (On 80′) — 7 — Drew a lot of fouls in a short shift.

Ali Kreiger (On 88′) — N/A