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.
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.
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
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
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
Holland spent most of the first quarter hour in the Japanese end, and Martens redirected a corner kick back at the goal from the front post. It turned off Japanese forward Yuika Sugasawa and crept inside the far post to make it 1-0 in the 16th minute.
Sugasawa nearly answered straight-away, curling the ball around the keeper but off the far post from the penalty spot.
Hasegawa leveled the score line just before halftime, checking back to run onto a delightful ball from Mana Iwabuchi and smashing a shot into the upper reaches of the goal.
Dutch keeper Sari van Veenendaal made an outstanding save early in the second half, and Japan whistled a shot through a defender’s legs but wide of the goal in the 71st.
Van Veenendaal was again there to rescue the Dutch when Yuka Momiki hit pause on her mark and drilled a left-footed shot on target, moments after Japan blasted the cross bar.
Saki Kumagai couldn’t get her arm out of the way of an 88th minute blast, and a penalty was awarded to the Netherlands. Would it withstand VAR? Yes (though you can judge whether it should have below). And Martens wrong-footed the keeper to make it 2-1 in the 90th.
The United States women’s national team is hoping Wednesday’s 2019 Women’s World Cup action ends with a Group F title and a measure of revenge.
Old rivals Sweden are the opponents for the first time since June 8, 2017. It’s also the first time the Yanks will meet the Swedes in a tournament since they were knocked out of the 2016 Olympics at the quarterfinal stage.
Also, Chile needs to beat Thailand by three in order to advance to the knockout rounds, while Thailand would need to win by a World Cup record 15 to poetically make the knockouts by skipping ahead of Nigeria (3 points, minus-2 differential, two goals scored).
Earlier, Canada fell to the Netherlands while Cameroon beat New Zealand deep in stoppage. Full match replays are linked below.
You can watch every single game from the tournament live online in Spanish via Telemundo Deportes and via the NBC Sports App. All you have to do is click on the links below.