Soccer – Women’s World Cup Thoughts Through the Group Stage
Thursday, the US Women’s National Team (USWNT) finished a perfect three for three in World Cup Pool Play winning Group F. They got a two-nil win over Sweden in Le Havre, France. Tobin Heath had a great game, giving the Swedes a lot of trouble on the right side of the pitch. She appeared to have the second goal, but in FIFA’s estimation said that because the ball went off of Anderson’s leg, it was actually a Sweden own goal and not Heath’s. Either way, she did very well. The game was important. Even with both teams on their way to playing in the World Cup Knockout Stages. Especially since both teams were not greatly challenged in their first two matches.
The United States of America did great by playing a high press and making Sweden look vulnerable especially for large stages of the first half. It was good to see them ruthless even with the early goal by Lindsey Horan. Sweden did give some warning signs by creating some chances, but the goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher was equal to the task when the match was still in doubt. I heard Alexi Lalas talk before the tournament about her importance to the team’s success. Although, I do agree with him that Naeher will be called upon at some point to help their chances to repeat as Wolrd Cup Champions. I think if the USWNT repeats, they will have to come from behind and/or win a penalty shootout in one or two of these next four matches.
Upcoming schedule and potential foes
Up next for the USWNT is a round of sixteen match against Spain in Rennes. It is scheduled to kick off at noon Eastern Time on Monday. Potentially, they could face the hosts in France in the capital city of Paris. However, they will have their hands full with Brazil led by their prolific scorer in Marta. England, who reached the World Cup Semifinals in Canada four years ago could be an opponent in the final four.
If the Stars and Stripes keep advancing, I think Germany will come out on the other side of the bracket to reach the World Cup Final. To me, that would be the hardest match, even tougher than a French team that has not looked dominant since their first group match. I think that the U.S. will beat Spain comfortably, then have two narrow wins against France and England. The World Cup Final against Germany will need more than one-hundred twenty minutes, but I think Carli Lloyd will make the winning penalty in a 5-4 shootout win.
How do you feel about the chances of the USWNT repeating as World Cup Champions? Leave a comment below.
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Works cited: Fox telecast, Fox Sports app, used an internet search engine for the tournament schedule