This text is a part of a sequence on the 2023 World Cup. Learn protection of earlier video games right here.
It’s lower than two weeks into the Girls’s World Cup (WWC) and 5 Cardinal stay standing — barely.
If it wasn’t for a margin of inches in Auckland, no Stanford participant can be left within the event.
For 90 minutes, the U.S. was out-played and out-possessed in Auckland. They seemingly had no sport plan versus Portugal.
For the whole lot of the sport, it felt as if the event debutants had been one possession, one momentum shift, one counter assault away from a historic victory. Portugal, anchored by a formidable midfield, was undoubtedly in management.
It seemed like that breakthrough second for Portugal would lastly come as stoppage time started. Tied at zero, second-half substitute Ana Capeta broke by means of the USA’ backline and took a robust strike.
Goalie Alyssa Naeher dove left.
The shot handed past her outstretched fingers.
Was the USWNT’s dominance lastly coming to a detailed?
However the ball struck the goalpost.
The put up, not any United States participant, finally held off the largest upset in Girls’s World Cup and U.S. soccer historical past. The draw uncovered the USWNT’s insecurity and predictable ways.
The match might have — and maybe ought to have — been the primary time the U.S. ladies’s group has ever been knocked out of a World Cup within the group stage. However for now, they dwell to see one other day.
“The participant of that match was the put up,” stated two-time World Cup champion turned FOX analyst Carli Lloyd throughout a postgame broadcast. “You’re fortunate to not be going house proper now.”
It’s a harsh however needed actuality test.
“Right now was simply merely uninspiring, disappointing,” Lloyd stated. “They don’t look match. They’re enjoying as people.”
The US entered the WWC as title favorites, however with the way in which they’ve been enjoying, the elusive three-peat is wanting much less and fewer and fewer probably with every sport. The USWNT topped Vietnam, however not within the dominant trend many followers anticipated. Then confronted with the Netherlands, the U.S. started to crack, solely forcing a draw. And within the wee hours of Tuesday morning, the USA seemed completely defeated. They by no means had an opportunity to breathe, a lot much less put collectively sustained assaults. When the stadium fireplace alarm went off after halftime, the alarm bells appeared to be consultant of a bigger id disaster enjoying out on the pitch. The USWNT was scorched.
Tuesday’s tie marked the primary time in 13 video games that the U.S. was held scoreless.
“They’re enjoying to not lose, versus enjoying to win,” Lloyd stated. “That’s the distinction that I see. Portugal performed to win, they usually virtually did.”
Sophia Smith began the sport and had just a few promising passes into the field, however she was finally out defended repeatedly. The US’ ahead was stripped of the ball, aggressively at occasions, earlier than she might trigger any true disruptions to a staunch Portuguese backline and midfield.
After incomes a yellow card, Smith was taken out after an hour of play to make means for winger Megan Rapinoe.
Like Smith, Naomi Girma ’22 has began all three video games and was one of many few vivid spots versus Portugal.
The truth that Girma and the opposite U.S. defenders have solely given up one purpose within the event to this point is a testomony to their reliability and talent, however the USA have additionally been largely unchallenged, having not but confronted the high-powered offenses of groups similar to Japan or England. (The Netherlands took 5 photographs in opposition to the USWNT and just one, the eventual purpose, was on the right track.)
Girma and the USA will face Sweden within the first spherical of the knockout stage. Count on Swedish defender Amanda Ilestedt, who’s already scored three objectives on this World Cup, and ahead Fridolina Rolfö, who’s added two, to trigger hassle. Sweden has outscored its opponents by eight of their first three group stage video games; evaluate that to solely a 3 purpose differential for the U.S. throughout the identical time span.
Regardless of a brand new beginning line-up within the midfield and substitutions all through the Portugal sport, Andi Sullivan ’18 once more performed all 90 minutes. Her place group, nonetheless, once more struggled to take care of management and win possession all through. After some time the USWNT simply bypassed the middle of the sphere, passing lengthy balls up the pitch to keep away from Portugal’s staunch midfield with little success.
Defender Kelley O’Hara ’09 got here in within the closing minutes of the sport as an act of defensive desperation and offered the management and the composure the group lacked. As she first ran onto the pitch she repeatedly pointed to her head as if to inform her teammates “use your head, play good.”
O’Hara, enjoying in her fourth World Cup, helped gradual the sport down and took wind out of Portugal’s sails, stopping any extra explosive counter assaults. Along with her steerage, the USA narrowly maintained a scoreless draw. When the ultimate whistle rang, O’Hara’s management was once more obvious.
It was she who gathered the group and delivered a postgame speech — not head coach Vlatko Andovski.
“I simply instructed the group, ‘Pay attention, we did what we needed to do, We’re transferring on. The group stage is finished. That is over. It’s within the rearview. We now have our subsequent sport in entrance of us, and that’s the one one which issues,’” O’Hara stated. “Perhaps we didn’t do it the way in which we needed to, or deliberate on doing it, however we’re advancing. And that is the World Cup, and that’s all that issues.”
The vast majority of the knockout stage bracket is now secured with the U.S. ending second in its group behind the Netherlands. It is just the second time in USWNT historical past that the ladies’s group has not received its group. The US subsequent performs in Melbourne on Sunday, Aug. 6 at 2:00 a.m. PT.
It will likely be the U.S.’ first match of the event on the Australian subcontinent, after enjoying all three group stage video games on New Zealand soil. Let’s hope a brand new nation additionally brings renewed athleticism, reignited ardour and tactical ingenuity for the USWNT. To make the duty harder, midfielder Rose Lavelle will miss the elimination sport attributable to yellow card accumulation.
“They simply haven’t been clicking,” stated Julie Foudy ‘93 to CNN. “The factor that I preserve coming again to is it doesn’t really feel like there’s quite a lot of chemistry. There’s not quite a lot of confidence and swagger that we usually see with this U.S. group. I truthfully assume they should cease fascinated with the X’s and O’s and simply give attention to, let’s simply go take pleasure in this and play and have enjoyable and truly convey some pleasure again to it.”