What have you missed so far in the 2019 Women’s World Cup?
First, here’s what you probably couldn’t miss: so, so, so many American goals.
It’s not just what the United States did on Tuesday—getting the expected win against Thailand, earning three points—but how they did it. The 13-0 walloping reinforced the point the team wanted to make in its first match: American women’s soccer outperforms even the highest expectations.
For those predicting the demise of the United States, Tuesday served up a forceful rebuke: international women’s soccer has improved…but so has the USWNT.
Alex Morgan scoring five goals wasn’t just a record-setting performance in itself. In 2015, Morgan was battling injuries and scored only once the entire tournament. Four other U.S. players (Rose Lavelle, Sam Mewis, Lindsey Horan and Mallory Pugh) weren’t even on the 2015 team, and each scored in their World Cup debuts. Carli Lloyd, a starter last time around, came off the bench to score a goal, proving she’s still a force to be reckoned with.
Beyond American dominance, what else do you need to know about the 2019 Women’s World Cup action so far?
Many consider Australia a legitimate contender to win the whole thing. But their start against Italy didn’t exactly inspire confidence. Their attack was muted, their defense faltered at key moments—and even star Samantha Kerr couldn’t stop Barbara Bonansea, Italy’s best goal-scorer.
Bonansea scored two goals, the second an absolute stunner in second half extra time.
For Italy to make a run, Bonansea needs to continue taking the kind of chances she did against the Matildas’ defense.
And for Australia to recover, Sam Kerr’s high-wattage offense shouldn’t be the team’s only line of defense against the opponent’s top scorer.
No, they didn’t score 13 goals, but there was little reason to doubt France’s bona fides after their 4-0 win over South Korea on Friday in the tournament’s opening match.
Let’s focus specifically on French center back Wendie Renard, who scored a brace.
This is nothing new for Renard, who has scored 20 goals internationally entering this World Cup. She’s a rarefied soccer player, a remarkable physical defender who’s equally dangerous in the opponent’s 18. In short, Renard is a must-watch. And she’s still just 28 years old.
Don’t Sleep on Sweden
Though the Americans got most of the attention in Group F on Tuesday, Sweden also collected three points with a 2-0 win over Chile. And their tactics might prove more relevant as the games get tighter: they broke a scoreless tie late in the game, when Kosovare Asllani scored in the 83rd minute against a resilient Chilean side. After Asllani’s breakthrough, Madelen Janogy clinched it with a second goal in added time.
Should both the United States and Sweden win their next matches, the two sides will face off on June 20 for the top spot in the group. If they tie, the American goal differential will be overwhelming. But ICYMI: Sweden is the team that knocked the United States out of the 2016 Olympics.
All of which is to say: the opening slate of games was fun. But Sweden’s performance reminds us that serious business is no more than a game away.
Will the American dominance continue? What teams will surprise us? Catch all the action and more from FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019™.
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