France WNT

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PST’s Women’s World Cup Best XI

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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?

HIGHLIGHTS: USWNT holds off France in riveting World Cup quarterfinal

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The United States women’s national team advanced to its eighth-straight World Cup semifinal with a 2-1 defeat of France on Friday.

[ MORE: France-USWNT recap | Player ratings ]

The Yanks jumped out to a 2-0 lead through a Megan Rapinoe free kick and a follow-up Rapinoe goal set-up by Tobin Heath.

That wasn’t all, though, as France tested the USWNT plenty over the final half-hour.

France center back Wendie Renard scored a trademark header to put the hosts back in the match, but the Yanks shut down the threat and moved on to the next (England, on Tuesday at 3 p.m. ET).

Goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher and left back Crystal Dunn both answered their critics, while Julie Ertz and Becky Sauerbrunn continued their outstanding USWNT tenures in helping the U.S. lock down the win.

Here are the full highlights, via Telemundo Deportes:

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.

[ MORE: Player ratings | 3 things ]

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.

Predicting the rest of the Women’s World Cup

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The Women’s World Cup is into the final eight, with seven of the eight teams hailing from Europe.

[ MORE: Women’s World Cup Power Rankings ]

The lone outlier is some team from North America who may or may not have won the last World Cup and can become the first team to win four of the things.

Who thinks they will? Our staff weighs in on the matter below.


Joe Prince-Wright

Quarterfinals
England defeats Norway
France defeats USA
Netherlands defeats Italy
Germany defeats Sweden

Semifinals
England v. France
Netherlands v. Germany 

Final
France defeats Germany
Wendie Renard of France celebrates with teammates (Photo by Martin Rose/Getty Images)

Nicholas Mendola

Quarterfinals
England defeats Norway
USA defeats France
Italy defeats Netherlands
Germany defeats Sweden

Semifinals
USA defeats England
Germany defeats Italy 

Final
USA defeats Germany

Andy Edwards

Quarterfinals
England
defeats Norway
France defeats USA
Italy defeats Netherlands
Germany defeats Sweden

Semifinals
France
defeats England
Germany defeats Italy

Final
Germany defeats France

Dzsenifer Marozsan of Germany  (Photo by Maja Hitij/Getty Images)

Dan Karell
Quarterfinals
England defeats Norway
USA defeats France
Netherlands defeats Italy
Germany defeats Sweden
Semifinals
USA defeats England
Netherlands defeats Germany
Final
USA defeats Netherlands

Kyle Bonn

Quarterfinals
England
defeats Norway
France defeats USA
Netherlands defeats Italy
Germany defeats Sweden

Semifinals
France
defeats England
Germany defeats Italy

Final
France defeats Germany

Women’s World Cup quarterfinal schedule set, plus Power Rankings

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The Women’s World Cup quarterfinal field includes an entire continent’s worth of teams and the United States women’s national team.

[ MORE: Italy tops China ]

Before we get to ranking the remaining eight teams, here are the dates for the quarterfinals:

Norway v. England – 3 p.m. ET Thursday
France v. United States – 3 p.m. ET Friday
Italy v. Netherlands – 9 a.m. ET Saturday
Germany v. Sweden – 12:30 p.m. ET Saturday


8. Norway — Can you imagine Norway getting to a final without the reigning Ballon d’Or winner?
Pre-Knockout round ranking: 10
Pre-World Cup ranking: 12

7. Sweden —  The attacking pieces are there for a run, but Germany is a big obstacle.
Pre-Knockout round ranking: 7
Pre-World Cup ranking: 6

6. Netherlands — Bailed out by goalkeeper Sari van Veenendaal and the FIFA rulebook/VAR.
Pre-Knockout round ranking: 4
Pre-World Cup ranking: 9

5. Italy — Has allowed two goals: One to Marta, the other to Sam Kerr.
Pre-Knockout round ranking: 6
Pre-World Cup ranking: 14

4. England — Back in fourth more due to the Dutch’s problems against Japan than its straight-forward defeat of Cameroon.
Pre-Knockout round ranking: 5
Pre-World Cup ranking: 4

Ellen White of England celebrates with teammate Toni Duggan  (Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images)

3. Germany — If this long rest allows Dzsenifer Marozsan’s broken toe to heal a bit, look out.
Pre-Knockout round ranking: 3
Pre-World Cup ranking: 3

2. France — The hosts snuck past Brazil in extra time, but at least they scored from the run of play as opposed to the No. 1 team.
Pre-Knockout round ranking: 2
Pre-World Cup ranking: 2

  1. USWNT — Everyone’s allowed a dud, and some respect as the reigning champs. 2-1 over Spain with both goals on penalties has to qualify as a dud. Rapinoe and Morgan looked weary on short rest. France will be a battle. Does Jill Ellis need to ring in the changes?
    Pre-Knockout round ranking: 1
    Pre-World Cup ranking: 1