Wendie Renard

AP Photo / David Vincent

PST’s Women’s World Cup Best XI


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?

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.

France kicks off Women’s World Cup with dominant win over South Korea

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The celebration is under way, the tournament is kicked off, and it’s all going according to plan for the host nation.

Fresh off the opening ceremonies of the 2019 Women’s World Cup, host nation France dominated South Korea from start to finish, putting forth a clinical performance as they completed a commanding 4-0 victory in front of a raucous crown in Paris.

From the opening kickoff, France looked every bit the juggernaut it has been billed as. They created three early chances in the opening 10 minutes, and on the fourth, Eugenie Le Sommer scored the first goal of the 2019 Women’s World Cup to give France an early lead.

South Korea was on its heels all first half, and France captain Amandine Henry won the ball down the right in space. She burst all the way to the end line before cutting back into the middle, where Amel Majri let the ball go so it would fall right at the feet of a streaking Le Sommer for the blasted finish. The ninth-minute strike marked the earliest goal in a Women’s World Cup opening match.

The onslaught continued, and while Wendie Renard had a wonderful side volley wiped off on VAR for a marginal offside, she would eventually get her goal in the 35th minute on a towering header at the far post on a corner. Renard struck again just before halftime to extend the lead to 3-0, again off a corner which she headed inside the near post, making use of her status as tallest player in the tournament.

With France cruising through the second half, captain Amadine Henry added her name to the scoresheet in the 85th minute for icing on the cake, catching South Korean goalkeeper Kim Minjung off guard with a shot from outside the top of the box that curled inside the far post.

With the tournament set to fully begin tomorrow with a slate of three games, France secures itself as the sixth straight host to win its opening game, dating back to Sweden’s loss to Brazil in 1995. South Korea still has a great chance to make it through to the knockout stage, set to match up with Nigeria and Norway in Group A play.