T he United States goes to the quarter finals of the World Cup after a less than convincing 2-1 victory over Spain. It was not beautiful for the Americans, and the reigning champions finally seem to be vulnerable. Here are the main takeaways from Monday's round of 16 match.
The United States against France is the play that Women & # 39; s World Cup deserves
From the moment the World Cup was drawn, everyone seemed to be talking about the possibility that the host nation, France, could face the # 1
Now it really happens. Not only will the match send a favorite pack, it must be a brilliant display of two top quality teams with massive fan support squaring off.
Players welcome on hype. "I hope it's big and wild," Megan Rapinoe said. "This is the best game – that's what everyone wanted us to want, they seem to be up to it. You guys [the media] stand up for it and all the fans. Maybe it will be a pretty smooth split with the fans at the stadium – we have been on the road quite deeply in this world championship. I hope this is just a total shitshow circus. It will be absolutely amazing and these are the biggest games you dream of as a child. "
Has Spain offered a blueprint to beat the United States?
For all the talk that Spain is a technical team, the game plan on Monday seemed to be more about bothering us in the US, and the favorites never settled. Especially Alex Morgan was the target of an extra little tomb every time she challenged the ball, and at the end of the game it turned out that all the knocks were coming in. "We tried to tell the judge that especially with Alex, it was upper back every time," Rapinoe said about Spain's pollution.
At one point Morgan could be seen to the bill, apparently showing how many times she had been kneeling in the back. Therefore, the punishment that Rose Lavelle had earned was so surprising. If there was contact, it was minimal – but public opinion from pundits and fans on social media has been split. "I was kicked in the skin," said Lavelle, when asked if she felt the call was correct. "An error is a mistake, so I think it's a punishment, yes."
VAR has not exactly shone in this tournament and those who disagree with the penalty will be annoyed as the referee does not overturn his decision. But if "clear and obvious" is supposed to be the standard, then VAR may have worked better in this fight than others. Regarding whether or not Virginia Torrecilla contacted Lavelle, it was probably best to leave the call on the pitch.
France, waiting for the quarterfinals, is a much stronger and more athletic team than Spain, and if they go for the American players that Spain did, it could be a tough battle for the champions.
… But it might be just what the United States needed
The United States' complete domination in their group games led many pundits to declare that the Americans would stroll to the finals. But winning a world championship is never cushy all the way through, and it was unclear how Americans would face adversity.
The American response to Spain was not all that compelling. But it might be that they needed a tougher battle to strengthen their loyalty. Becky Sauerbrunn said so much after the Spanish game. "It was good to know we could lose a victory and if we were to win the dirt, we could get dirty," she said.
The Americans have the oldest team in France, but they have a lot of players – like Lavelle, Samantha Mewis, Lindsey Horan and Abby Dahlkemper – making their World Cup debuts. The beginners got valuable lessons on Monday.
"When you get to the knockout round, there's so much more pressure, and it's so much more tense out there," Rapinoe said. "Everything matters, every game matters and every wave of the game is important. Halfway through the second half it was like: & # 39; We have to pick this up. & # 39; There are very few of us there has been there and realizes these moments, and that experience was good for us today.
The defense narrative does not go away
Who was guilty of Spain's goal was it goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher to play the ball Becky Sauerbrunn, who had her back turned to her opponent? Or was it Sauerbrunn who did not respond quickly to the pressure of forward Lucia Garcia?
Sauerbrunn accepted the blame after the fight and said she was trying to play through the pressure rather than clearing She also marked questions about Naeher and insisted that the doubt about the goalkeeper was more about building stories in the media than anything else.
She may be right, but that does not mean that the narratives go away. at the group stage of the United States was a Naeher gaff on a Chile set that would have resulted in a goal without offside flags. And, of course, Spain's goal also came from a mistake.
However, Rapinoe said that mistakes will happen – it's about how the US reacts to them. "These things will happen," she said. "Of course we don't want them to happen, but when they do, we can't be:" Don't do it! "And stay on it – it's like," No rubbish, don't. "Just stay in it and have each other back."