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
VAR awarded Canada its penalty after Desiree Scott’s blast from outside the 18 struck Asllani’s arm.
Janine Beckie went to her right, but Lindahl stretched to parry the torso-high drive.
It wasn’t a terrible penalty, rather a magnificent save. Still, the world was wondering why Christine Sinclair, two goals from matching Abby Wambach’s international record, didn’t go to the spot to do the business.
Perhaps the decision was made because Sinclair was saved and Beckie scored when Canada lost to Sweden in penalties during the Algarve Cup in March.
VAR then denied Sweden a chance from the spot. Ashley Lawrence committed a foul in the box, but the off-field officials spotted an offside in the build-up to keep Canada alive heading into the final stanza.