Eugenie Le Sommer

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USWNT holds on to knock off hosts France (video)

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Megan Rapinoe scored twice as the United States reached its eighth-straight Women’s World Cup semifinal with a 2-1 defeat of hosts France in Paris on Friday.

Wendie Renard scored with an 81st minute header for France, her fourth in five matches.

The reigning champions are two wins away from defending their title, and will have to get past England on July 2 in Lyon.

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Sarah Bouhaddi was called into early duty when Megan Rapinoe tracked down a wayward touch and laid off to Julie Ertz for a hard drive.

It was Rapinoe’s free kick that put the U.S. in front, the left winger set up by an Alex Morgan-drawn foul. Her effort bounded through a sea of players but was untouched on its route to goal.

France was in possession for most of the rest of the half, and their passing only met its mark outside the final third. Targeting the Yanks’ left side, Crystal Dunn was busy.

Aside from the lively Rapinoe, Julie Ertz and Becky Sauerbrunn impressed along with the edgy right back performance of Kelley O’Hara.

The Yanks came out of the gates hard, with Bouhaddi making a pair of saves on Sam Mewis and Tobin Heath in the 46th minute.

France had its best chance of the match a dozen minutes later with Alyssa Naeher unable to reach a back post cross but the hosts missing two decent chances to connect for an equalizer.

Naeher leapt to snare a looping header in the 64th minute, just after Jill Ellis brought on Horan to try and break up the French possession.

Rapinoe finished emphatically moments later, Heath’s cross into the box missing Mewis but finding the goal scorer for her brace.

Heath scored to make it 3-0, but the marker never reached the scoreboard thanks to Crystal Dunn being ruled offside. If she was, it was millimeters:

An O’Hara giveaway allowed Amandine Henry to test Naeher in the 78th, but the keeper got low to collect a shot from distance. And Naeher tipped a dangerous Eugenie Le Sommer side volley over the bar within a minute.

Renard got away from Horan to pound a header home in the 82nd to set up a grandstand finish.

O’Hara could’ve conceded a penalty if the handball rules were consistently enforced this tournament, but the call would’ve been harsh.

2019 Women’s World Cup preview: Groups A, B and C

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The Women’s World Cup begins Friday at the Parc des Princes in Paris, where hosts France will tangle with South Korea to kick off a month-long chase for the honor of being crowned the best team in women’s football.

Here’s the lowdown on half of the field.

Group A

The inside track: Hosts France are hoping for a title, or at least a Top Three finish for the first time in history. The French have lost just once since the start of 2018 and have Eugenie Le Sommer leading the line. Norway would present a genuine title threat were it not for the continued boycott of national team duty by Ballon d’Or Feminin winner Ada Hegerberg, who is protesting for equality. South Korea is hoping for a knockout round game, while Nigeria is hoping its dominance of Africa can translate past the group stage for just the second time in eight tries.

Game schedule

Friday, June 7: France v. South Korea

Saturday, June 8: Norway v. Nigeria

Wednesday, June 12: Nigeria v. South Korea

Wednesday, June 12: France v. Norway

Monday, June 17: Nigeria v. France

Monday, June 17: South Korea v. Norway

Three star players to watch

1) Eugenie Le Sommer, France (below)
2) Asisat Oshoala, Nigeria
3) Maren Mjelde, Norway

Prediction

France and Nigeria win their openers, meeting for the Group A winners’ path on the final day. The hosts get it done.

Eugenie Le Sommer (Photo by Joachim Sielski/Getty Images)

Group B

The inside track: Two-time World Cup champions Germany are serial EURO winners and a tournament favorite on home continent soil. Once runners-up to the USWNT, China is seeking to reclaim its status as a threat on the world stage. PSG midfielder Wang Shuang should help that along a bit. Spain’s first World Cup saw a winless 20th place finish, so almost anything would be an improvement. South Africa has not won this year.

Game schedule

Saturday, June 8: Germany v. China

Saturday, June 8: Spain v. South Africa

Wednesday, June 12: Germany v. Spain

Thursday, June 13: South Africa v. China

Monday, June 17: South Africa v. Germany

Monday, June 17: China v. Spain

Three star players to watch

1) Alexandra Popp, Germany
2) Patricia Guijarro, Spain
3) Wang Shuang, China

Prediction

Germany cruises through the group stage, and the final day’s meeting between China and Spain sorts the second slot.

Alexandra Popp (Photo by Alex Menendez/ Getty Images)

Group C

The inside track: Australia has a puncher’s chance in any game, especially given Sam Kerr’s potential to do something wonderful at any given moment.  Brazil is on an almost-absurd nine-match losing run, all matches coming away from South America. The Italians have fared well in the run-up, without testing themselves much. Khadija “Bunny” Shaw will bring a prolific goal scoring record to France for the Reggae Girlz of Jamaica.

Game schedule

Sunday, June 9: Australia v. Italy

Sunday, June 9: Brazil v. Jamaica

Thursday, June 13: Australia v. Brazil

Friday, June 14: Jamaica v. Italy

Tuesday, June 18: Jamaica v. Australia

Tuesday, June 18: Italy v. Brazil

Three star players to watch

1) Sam Kerr, Australia
2) Khadija “Bunny” Shaw, Jamaica
3) Marta, Brazil

Prediction

All four teams remain alive on the final day, with Australia and Brazil earning places in the knockout rounds.

Khadija Shaw of Jamaica (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

France wraps up its SheBelieves Cup with 3-0 win over Germany

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ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) Amandine Henry, Eugenie Le Sommer and Valerie Gauvin scored and France wrapped up the SheBelieves Cup with a 3-0 victory over Germany on Wednesday.

The victory was the first for France in the tournament after falling 4-1 to England and drawing 1-1 with the U.S women. But it was costly, with defender Aissatou Tounkara stretchered off at the end of the first half with what appeared to be a serious leg injury.

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Henry scored in the 10th minute. Le Sommer scored her 66th international goal in the 55th minute to give France a 2-0 lead before Gauvin’s goal in the 68th.

France, ranked No. 6 in the world, started veteran Sarah Bouhaddi for her 129th appearance in goal for the national team.

The French are playing under coach Corinne Diacre, a former national team defender, as they prepare for the 2019 World Cup on home soil.

Germany fell 1-0 to the United States in the opening match of the She Believes Cup on Thursday in Columbus, Ohio, then played to a 2-2 draw with England in the second match at Red Bull Arena.

Ranked No. 2 in the world, Germany won gold at the 2016 Olympics. Afterward, longtime coach Silvia Neid stepped down and was replaced by former national team defender Steffi Jones.

SheBelieves Cup: USWNT draws France 1-1 (video)

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Mallory Pugh’s goal off a 35th minute scrum helped hosts USWNT to a 1-1 draw against France in its second match of the 2018 SheBelieves Cup.

[ MORE: Day 1 recap ]

The U.S. won the first SheBelieves Cup, and France won the 2017 edition.

The Sunday match was the front end of a doubleheader, with Germany and England up next.

Pugh punched a shot off Sarah Bouhaddi and into the goal a few moves after a Megan Rapinoe free kick to restore a deadlock that would last the match.

Her third goal of the year came just before Eugenie Le Sommer scored a beauty for France, the only way the visitors could overcome a fine performance from goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher.

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Women’s Ballon d’Or nominees: Three USWNT players, West Virginia junior

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We now know the players and coaches nominated for the highest individual honors in women’s soccer, and there are plenty of connections to the 2015 World Cup champions.

Hope Solo, Megan Rapinoe and Carli Lloyd are nominees for World Player of the Year, while USWNT coach Jill Ellis is up for World Coach of the Year.

Seattle Reign boss Laura Harvey is also up for the latter honor, and will combat the coaches for Canada and England amongst others.

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Another candidate for POY is plying her trade in the American college game, as West Virginia junior Kadeisha Buchanan is up for the honor.

Surprisingly, World Cup semifinalist England did not have a player on the final list.

FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year nominees
U.S. — Lloyd, Rapinoe, Solo
France — Amandine Henry, Eugenie Le Sommer
Germany — Nadine Angerer, Celia Sasic
Japan — Aya Miyama
Canada — Kadeisha Buchanan
Switzerland — Ramona Bachmann

FIFA Women’s World Coach of the Year nominees
Calle Barring – Sweden U-19
Colin Ball – FFC Frankfurt
Farid Benstiti – Paris Saint-Germain
Jill Ellis – USWNT
Laura Harvey – Seattle Reign
John Herdman – Canada
Gerard Precheur – Lyon
Mark Sampson – England
Norio Sasaki – Japan
Thomas Worle – Bayern Munich.