It’s been a wild celebration for Utah Royals players Kelley O’Hara, Christen Press and Becky Sauerbrunn after winning the World Cup in France.
From a ticker tape parade in New York City, to a hero’s welcome at the Salt Lake City International Airport.
“It’s such a crazy, wonderful feeling to win one of these things,” said Sauerbrunn. “I always knew that we were capable, but actually winning the sucker is a different thing. I’m still kind of riding that high.”
The U.S. team was dominant at the World Cup, outscoring their opponents 26-3. They received a lot of praise and some criticism, with some calling them arrogant.
“We are really, really good,” O’Hara said. “But we also are humble and we respect our opponents. We just are so mission focused and driven that I think that’s we can say we are the best.”
“It’s unfair to misconstrue self-belief as arrogance,” said Sauerbrunn. “Everyone on the national team has put in so much to be there, to stay there, and we know what goes into it and that gives us confidence. If the outside world sees that as arrogance I think that’s unfortunate, because to us it’s self-belief.”
With the World Cup now behind them, they’re back and ready to go with the Utah Royals.
“It’s time to work,” said Sauerbrunn. “We’re back with Utah. It’s now time to win this season and to prep for the next game.”
The Utah Royals host Portland this Friday night at Rio Tinto Stadium.
(CNN) — When a World Cup novice is faced with a foe as experienced and ruthless as the USWNT, the outcome is almost inevitable and so it was on a muggy afternoon in Lyon when the reigning world champion defended its title with a comfortable 2-0 win over the Netherlands.
Competing in its first World Cup final, few gave the Dutch hope. The reigning European champion it may be, but it had not yet come up against the best team in the world, the dominant force of its generation.
The Netherlands held on for over an hour but two goals within eight minutes sealed the underdog’s fate. In a tournament where she has transcended her sport, Megan Rapinoe coolly drilled home a penalty before a Rose Lavelle thunderbolt made sure of a second successive title for the US.
All dynasties eventually fall apart, but the US’ reign has yet no true challenger.
This is the World Cup where it became apparent that the USWNT is being rapidly pursued by those European countries whose men’s national teams have long since been a force.
Leading the chase is the Netherlands, European champion and a finalist in just its second World Cup, which is part of a pack, but all challengers have been vanquished.
Thailand, Chile, Sweden, Spain, France, England and now the Netherlands have all swept aside by a team which is now unbeaten in 17 World Cup matches.
LYON, France — The U.S. women’s national team will face the Netherlands in the FIFA Women’s World Cup Final on Sunday, July 7, at 9:00 a.m. MDT, in its quest to win a fourth World Cup title.
Coverage of the match begins here on FOX 13 at 8:00 a.m. with FIFA Women’s World Cup Live.
The final is being held in Lyon, France — site of the USWNT’s 2-1 semifinal win over England on Tuesday.
It was a record-setting 11th-straight World Cup win for the U.S.
Utah Royals FC’s Christen Press scored the first goal for the U.S. in the ninth minute, heading in a cross from URFC teammate Kelley O’Hara.
Alex Morgan scored her tournament-leading sixth goal in the 31st minute after England had equalized in the 19th minute.
Morgan headed home a beautiful chip from Lindsey Horan, then celebrated by drinking a cup of tea, which immediately went viral — for multiple reasons.
Goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher made a spectacular save just one minute later, getting her fingertips on the end of a curling shot to keep it 2-1 U.S. at halftime.
Naeher also saved a penalty kick in the 84th minute to preserve the USWNT’s win.
The Netherlands defeated Sweden 1-0 after extra time, also in Lyon, on Wednesday.
This will be the first-ever Women’s World Cup Final for the Netherlands and the fifth for the USWNT.
After the U.S. Women’s National Team defeated England 2-1 in the Women’s World Cup semi-final Tuesday, Utah Royals FC assistant coach Scott Parkinson sat down with Fox 13’s Jeff Rhineer to discuss the intense match.
“One of the best games I’ve seen in a long, long time,” Parkinson said. “It just had everything — goals, excitement, referee decisions, VAR, absolutely everything.”
Although Parkinson — from Liverpool — had to watch his home country lose, he was thrilled for URFC forward Christen Press, who started for the U.S. and scored the first goal of the match. Making the local connection even sweeter, the cross for Press’ header came from fellow Utah Royal Kelley O’Hara.
“The minute that ball hit the back of the net, my eyes just welled up,” Parkinson said, “To see them connect like that together was just brilliant.”
England’s Ellen White equalized the score just minutes later.
But Alex Morgan — on her 30th birthday — scored what proved to be the winning goal before halftime.
England nearly tied the score in the second half twice — one goal taken back by a virtual assistant referee (VAR) offside call, then a penalty kick saved by U.S. keeper Alyssa Naeher in the final 10 minutes.
Very late in the game, England’s Millie Bright was sent off after receiving a second yellow card.
This semifinal between the No.1 and No.3 ranked teams in the world certainly lived up to its promise of an exciting match.
On Sunday, the U.S. will take on the winner of Wednesday’s semi-final between Netherlands and Sweden.
Days after seeing off France in a grueling encounter in Paris, the US faces another monster Women’s World Cup fixture.
All eyes now turn to Lyon, France’s culinary capital and host city to a semifinal in which arguably the two best teams remaining in the competition scrap it out for a place in the final. A confident England awaits.
If the US is to successfully defends its title, it will certainly have done it the hard way because should the defending champion see off Phil Neville’s team, it will have beaten the No 4. (France) and No.3 (England) ranked teams in the world in the knockout stages.
The USWNT has been the dominant force in the women’s game since the first Women’s World Cup in 1991 but England poses a real threat after ruthlessly dispatching Norway 3-0 in its quarterfinal. Neville’s players are chasing history as well — aiming to become the first senior England side since 1966 to reach a major football final.
Like any match which induces feverish excitement days before kickoff, there are also plenty of subplots which make for a fascinating contest.
Arrogance or excellent planning?
“It’s not etiquette, really, is it?” said England boss Neville in response to two US staff members being spotted at England’s team hotel in Lyon. The build up to a big match isn’t quite the same without a ‘spygate’ headline.
US coach Jill Ellis told reporters that they were looking at the hotel as a potential base before Sunday’s final in Lyon and played down suggestions that such preparedness hinted at arrogance.
“I think that’s important, to do your job. So, in terms of arrogance, I think that’s got nothing to do with us. That’s planning and preparation for our staff, so I think that’s pretty normal,” she told reporters Sunday.
Neville conceded that scouting the hotel would not give the US an “unfair advantage” in the semifinal.
“The only thing I would say is it’s not something that I would want my team ops person doing. We’re happy with our hotel. So, I hope they enjoyed the hotel,” Neville said.
Rapinoe vs. Bronze – A mouthwatering battle
Megan Rapinoe has dominated the headlines this last week.
First a video of the US co-captain saying she wouldn’t go to the White House should the US win the title went viral. Then US President Donald Trump responded to stoke the flames before Rapinoe became the match-winner Friday by scoring both goals in the 2-1 win over France. Rapinoe’s brace meant the 33-year-old has been directly involved in 14 goals in her last 16 appearances at the Women’s World Cup.
“Fantastic,” was how Ellis described her forward’s performance in that heavyweight battle. Hollywood star Zac Efron tweeted that he was going to dye his hair purple in homage to the winger. Indeed, after her scoring feat and arms-outstretched goal celebration against France, social media was awash with people voicing their admiration for Rapinoe.
That England right back Lucy Bronze produced a stunning performance, scoring a sublime goal to boot, against Norway went largely unnoticed everywhere other than in England.
In Tuesday’s semifinal, Bronze, who plays for European champion Lyon, will likely to be tasked with marking Rapinoe. However, Neville suggested in his press conference Sunday that he may select Rachel Daly, who played at right back when England drew with the US in the SheBelieves Cup earlier this year.
Is the England boss playing mind games? Perhaps. After all, he did play under Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United, the master of mental manipulation.
“I do believe Lucy’s the best player in the world. She’s unique in almost everything she does,” said Neville of his defender. “If you look at the left-hand side of the USA and the right-hand side of England, I don’t think you’ll get a better left and right in women’s football.”
English born, American made
Ellis’ accent, a curious mix of an American drawl and clipped English, hints that the 52-year-old did not spend her formative years in the US. It is the result of a childhood spent in Portsmouth, on England’s south coast, and of nearly 40 years living in the US.
She migrated in 1981 with her family to the Washington, D.C. area. Her father John is a former Royal Marine who used to work for the English Football Association. He set up a football academy after moving to the US and was assistant coach to the USWNT at the beginning of this century.
Had her family not moved, Ellis has admitted her career path may have been very different.
“I truly think if I’d have stayed in England, I’m not sure I’d would be in coaching,” she told reporters. “At the time, it was not even a career path. It was a rare career path in the States, but it wasn’t a career path [in England] for sure.”
Ellis has faced England before, five times since 2014, but never in a major tournament. Asked Friday how she felt about facing her home nation, she bristled: “I’ve got US citizenship, brother.”
Having overseen 125 games, no one has coached more games for the USWNT than Ellis, and only Tony DiCicco has more national victories with 105. Ellis is unbeaten in 12 Women’s World Cup games and the 2015 FIFA World Coach of the Year for Women’s Football is aiming to become the first to win the World Cup twice. The coach who was made in America is two games away from history.
The Man Utd great wanting to prove people wrong
Thorough and organized, England’s head coach is the sort of person who prepares for all eventualities. Ever since Neville was appointed in January 2018, the 42-year-old has been plotting England’s path to World Cup glory.
With no previous experience in women’s football or management, and despite initially not having applied for the job, Neville became the most high-profile England women’s manager in history.
But it was a bumpy start for a man who, if rumor is to be believed, emerged as a candidate after a well-known broadcaster lightheartedly suggested him to FA bosses during a Christmas party. Within 24 hours of getting the job in January, the father of two was forced to make a public apology for Twitter comments made in 2012 which had prompted a sexism row. He weathered the storm.
Speaking to CNN in December, the Englishman said one of his motivations was to “prove people wrong that doubted me.” He has silenced the naysayers by guiding England to the semifinals without much trouble.
For a man whose playing career yielded 59 England caps and 10 major trophies with Manchester United, Neville’s standards are unsurprisingly high. He told reporters that not reaching the final would be considered a failure, adding: “Nobody cares who loses a semifinal, it’s all about winning. No one cares about silver and bronze. It’s the gold medal everyone wants.”
Battle for the golden boot
It’s a four-way tie at the top of the scoring charts, and three of the World Cup’s leading scorers will be playing Tuesday.
Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe and Ellen White have all netted five times in four games in this tournament. All of Morgan’s goals came in the 13-0 thrashing of Thailand, while Rapinoe scored twice in back-to-back games to add to her goal against Thailand.
England striker White has been consistently ruthless throughout.
“Ellen White is obviously coming into this next game really confident,” Morgan told reporters Sunday. “She has gained that starting spot and that’s huge. We have to look at her because of the goals she is scoring.”
Can the US be beaten?
England has never progressed beyond the semifinals, its best finish being third after beating Germany in the third-place playoff four years ago.
The US is a three-time World Cup champion and has lost just once to England. In their only World Cup encounter in 2007, the US prevailed 3-0. But England’s performances in the SheBelieves Cup earlier this year, where England drew 2-2 with the US, will give Neville hope.
But the US’ record at the World Cup is an intimidating one. The US has reached the finals four time in seven tournaments and in beating France the team tied the record of 10 successive World Cup victories. Indeed, the US has only lost once in 43 matches, a friendly defeat against France in January.
Former World Cup winner Abby Wambach has described this US team as the greatest in the country’s history. After the US beat Chile 3-0 in the group stage — when coach Ellis made seven changes to the starting lineup — defender Ali Krieger said the Americans had “the best team in the world, and the second-best team in the world.”
But there is a chink in the US armor — as Spain and France found by breaching its defense — and a predator such as White will pounce on any lapses.
Spain scored courtesy of the US defense being sloppy in possession near its own goal, while France halved the deficit from a set piece. England will have taken note and the US’ defenders and goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher will no doubt be put under pressure.
There is a sense that England needs to score first Tuesday because, as France found, attempting to catch the US once it has taken the lead is a formidable task. Around the hour mark against Les Bleues, the US retreated to a five-person defense and had the midfield dropping back to help. It was a conservative, but effective, approach.
Former US goalkeeper Hope Solo has suggested England needs to change its pleasing-on-the-eye style and be more direct if it is to beat the US. Neville has ruled that out. “The style is non-negotiable however far we go,” he said.
The mind games have started, the statistics are being mulled over. All the ingredients are there for a World Cup epic.
The US Women’s National Team takes on France in the Women’s World Cup Friday.
Amy Rodriguez of the Utah Royals FC said this meeting of the No. 1 and 2 teams will likely be one of the most exciting of the tournament.
See the video above for her insights.
Coverage of the World Cup begins Friday on Fox 13 at noon. Click here for the complete World Cup schedule on Fox 13.
Seven of the eight teams remaining in the Women’s World Cup are European, and Utah Royals FC’s Vero Boquete came to Good Day Utah to share her insight on what that means for the US Women’s National Team.
Boquete also talked about Thursday’s match-up between England and Norway. Coverage begins at noon on Fox 13.
By Aimee Lewis, CNN
It wasn’t easy, and at times there was doubt, but defending champion the US can look ahead to a mouthwatering quarterfinal clash against host France after a 2-1 win over a resolute Spain.
In the US’ toughest challenge at the Women’s World Cup so far, two Megan Rapinoe penalties, one in each half, secured progress to the last eight.
When Spain conceded a fifth-minute penalty — Maria Leon bringing down Tobin Heath in the box — it seemed as if the US would go on to accrue another healthy scoreline, just as it did in the group stages.
Jill Ellis’ team had qualified for the last 16 having scored 18 goals in three games and not conceded, becoming the first team in World Cup history to qualify for the knockout stages with a +18 goal difference.
But before this tournament questions were being asked of the US’ defense and for the first time in France it was put through its paces and breached.
In trying to play out from defense, Becky Sauerbrunn lost possession on the edge of her box and Spain pounced with a delightful finish from Jennifer Hermoso.
The defending champion created more chances — Rapinoe twice missed opportunities to give her team the lead — but so too did Spain, catching out the Americans’ high defensive line on a couple of occasions.
After the break, Spain’s ploy of slowing the pace of the game by keeping possession was successful in frustrating the tournament favorite until Leon took a swipe at Rose Lavelle’s shin and the referee pointed at the spot.
Though it was the slightest of contacts, a VAR check rubber stamped the decision and Rapinoe coolly slotted home.
LE HAVRE, France — The U.S. women’s national team defeated Sweden 2-0 to finish the group stage game of the 2019 Women’s World Cup with a perfect 3-0 record.
Lindsey Horan scored the fastest goal of this year’s tournament in the third minute off a corner kick and Tobin Heath made it 2-0 in the 66th minute with a goal from a sharp angle that was later ruled an own goal from Sweden’s Jonna Andersson.
Up next, the U.S. will face Group B runner-up Spain in the Round of 16.
The U.S. also set a record for the most goals scored in a group stage with 18. The previous mark (17) was set by Norway in 1995.
The US Women’s National Team takes on Sweden Thursday in their final match of the group stage for the Women’s World Cup.
Utah Royals FC’s Amy Rodriguez stopped by Fox 13 to talk about the upcoming contest and what to expect from each team.
Fox 13’s World Cup coverage begins Thursday with the Netherlands vs. Canada, followed by Sweden vs USA. Click here for the complete 2019 Women’s World Cup Schedule on Fox 13.