Vivianne Miedema

AP Photo / David Vincent

PST’s Women’s World Cup Best XI

2 Comments

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?

Netherlands outlasts Italy to reach World Cup semis

Photo by Quality Sport Images/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Netherlands joined the U.S. women’s national team and England in the semifinals of the 2019 Women’s World Cup by beating Italy in a sweltering war of attrition on Saturday.

[ HIGHLIGHTS: USWNT holds off France in riveting quarterfinal ]

It’s the first time they have ever reached the semifinals of the Women’s World Cup, in just their second appearance.

With the temperature over 90 degrees and the sun shining brightly for a 3 p.m. local time kickoff, both sides were forced to deal with the hardly ideal conditions, and the Dutch had much more left in the tank when the game’s final 20 minutes rolled around. That was the clear and obvious difference.

The goals didn’t come until the 70th and 80th minutes, but the Oranje were firmly on the front foot for much of the second half and were the only side that ever looked like breaking through.

Vivianne Miedema scored what turned out to be the game-winning goal, her third of the tournament, with a perfectly executed flicked header from a free kick.

[ MORE: Rapinoe happy to silence haters, happier to make loved ones proud ]

Once the Italian backline had given way, it didn’t take long for the Netherlands to score a second goal and put the game to bed. Once again, it was a header from a free kick that unlocked the goalmouth. Stefanie van der Gragt rose highest at the back post and made thunderous contact with the ball to make it 2-0.

The Dutch will face the winner of Saturday’s other quarterfinal, between Germany and Sweden, on Wednesday in Lyon.

Women’s World Cup: Netherlands, Canada both advance

Getty Images
Leave a comment

A pair of teams secured a spot in the knockout stage of the 2019 Women’s World Cup, including the first non-European team to advance past the group stage.

The Netherlands were first up, downing Cameroon 3-1 behind a brace from Arsenal forward Vivianne Miedema, making her the all-time leading scorer for the Dutch national team at just 22 years old.

Her first came just four minutes before halftime, stemming from great combination play down the right from Jackie Groenen and Shanice van de Sanden, with the latter delivering a cross to the doorstep that found Miedema who slipped in front of Christine Manie for a diving header. Cameroon equalized just two minutes later through Gabrielle Aboudi Onguene on a long ball straight down the middle, but it wouldn’t stay level much longer after the break.

Three minutes after the restart as the Netherlands worked a set-piece from the training ground, again using the right flank to work a similar cross and while Dominique Bloodworth completely whiffed on the first chance, Cameroon defender Michaela Abam also whiffed on the clear, sending the ball right back to Bloodworth for an easy follow-up.

Cameroon had a golden opportunity to draw level once again with 10 minutes to go, but a critical block by Desiree van Lunteren kept the Dutch in front and Miedema got her second and the record with five minutes remaining. On a two-on-two break, Miedema kept it herself and fired a low shot into the bottom-left corner and sealed the victory.

They only netted twice but Canada thoroughly dominated New Zealand to become the first non-European side through to the knockout stage with a 2-0 win in Grenoble. Jessie Flemming secured the win, able to find the back of the net with two of Canada’s 24 shots in the match.

The game ground to a halt 15 minutes in as Catherine Bott took a close-range cross off the right hand and was down for significant treatment before coming off. On the restart, the game jolted to life again as Christine Sinclair had a glorious opportunity in front of net but somehow the New Zealand defense combined to keep the ball from crossing the line.

Canada remained the more dangerous side through the first half-hour with the New Zealand defense barely staying alive on numerous occasions. The Ferns finally had their best chance in the 39th minute as a few bounces in midfield went their way and it created a two-on-two break, but they were unable to find a wide-open Rosie White in the middle.

After halftime, Canada seemed rejuvenated and struck just three minutes in. A long ball down the left released Nichelle Prince on the break, and she had all too easy of a cutback to Fleming waiting in the middle. Sinclair missed one just a minute later over the bar that would have doubled the lead, and Canada began to truly pour on the pressure. A fabulous header from Prince was only kept out by a stunning Erin Nayler save in the 72nd minute.

The win put Canada on six points, even with the Netherlands and behind only on goal differential, with the two set to meet in the final round of group stage play to determine the group winner. New Zealand and Cameroon are both eliminated, with either side yet to secure a point in its first two matches.