By Matt Ream

 

 

The United States are in the Women’s World Cup final after posting a 3-1 win against France in the semifinals despite being outshot 25-11. Becky Sauerbrunn filled in for the suspended Rachel Buehler at center back with her magicJack defensive partner Christie Rampone.

In the 9th minute, Heather O’Reilly was freed down the left side following a French corner kick. Her dangerous left footed low cross was met at the near post by Lauren Cheney, whose touch redirected the ball in at the far post.

 

Despite this early advantage for the US, France had the better of the play in the first half. Hope Solo kept the Americans in the game with several saves as France continued to put on the pressure. Abby Wambach missed a sitter at the other end against the run of play to keep the score at 1-0 in favor of the US going into the halftime break. Wambach rose to meet a Shannon Boxx cross at the far post, but could only put it back across goal with no one to finish.

 

After the break, France continued to attack and possess the ball while the US seemed content to counter. Then, in the 55th minute, a cross by Sonia Bompastor eluded Sauerbrunn and Rampone and found its way to the far post and in the net. Hope Solo could do nothing about it, as she expected Eugenie Le Sommer to win the header at the near post.

 

France continued to seek out the decisive goal until the 79th minute when a Cheney corner kick found Wambach lurking at the far post. Wambach’s snap header powered past the flailing French goalkeeper, Berangere Sapowicz, and into the net. Three minutes later, substitute Alex Morgan sealed the result with a clever chip over the onrushing Sapowicz.

 

Thoughts:

  • After going the full 120 minutes against Brazil, 33 year old Shannon Boxx looked completely gassed in this game. Although she had a few good attacking plays, she struggled to complete simple passes and had trouble closing down the French midfield.
  • Wambach has still struggled to score despite having quite a few chances. But her clutch goals in the last three games (even though the US still lost to Sweden) have been remarkable. I hope that she can continue her good form in the final.
  • The US midfield struggled against France, giving away possession cheaply and reacting too slowly on the defensive side of the ball. Will coach Pia Sundhage turn to her bench in the final to replace tired legs? Midfielder Lori Lindsey replaced Boxx for the Colombia match in the group stage and looked sharp.
  • After some great production early on in the tournament, midfielder Heather O’Reilly was almost non-existent in this match. Her excellent ball to Cheney was a bright spot, but she seemed to disappear for long stretches of the game. Her ability to take on defenders and serve crosses for Wambach will be needed if the US are to win in the final.
  • How will the US midfield and backline cope with Japan’s quickness and short combination play?

 

The United States play Japan in the final on Sunday, July 17th at 11:45AM Pacific Standard Time. The game can be seen on ESPN, ESPN3.com, or Galavision.

Matt Ream is the older, wiser, and better looking brother of TheSackLunch co-founder Evan Ream. He occasionally contributes to TSL when he isn’t too busy getting his MA in Kinesiology at CSU Long Beach, coaching youth soccer, or reading. He can be reached at mtream@gmail.com or @flyingoose.

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