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?
Lieke Martens scored twice, the second an 89th minute penalty, as the Netherlands claimed the final Women’s World Cup quarterfinalist slot with a 2-1 defeat of Japan on Tuesday.
Yui Hasegawa scored for Japan, who exits in the Round of 16 four years after losing the final to the United States.
The Dutch will face Italy in the quarterfinals.
[ MORE: Italy tops China ]
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.