Here’s how the U.S. Women’s national team won its second straight World Cup, capped off Sunday, July 7 by a dominant 2-0
win over the Netherlands:
1. Stars of the game, entire tournament
Megan Rapinoe was more than just a leader throughout the United States’ World Cup run. She was a motivating presence both on and off the field, coming up big when the team needed her most and handling the off-field spotlight with the same spunk and fire she plays with.
Sunday was no exception, as Rapinoe scored her sixth goal of the tournament on a penalty shot in the 61st minute. Rapinoe, who
was recognized as the tournament’s best player, capitalized on all three penalty shots she took, approaching each one with the
same unfazed attitude and calm. There’s no question Rapinoe was the rock of this USA team, and the noise she created the last month won’t be forgotten.
And then there’s Rose Lavelle, who capped off her own tremendous World Cup performance by registering Sunday’s insurance tally. Her third goal of the tournament came after an extended possession down field that saw Lavelle juke a defender before ripping a shot into the back of the net. The midfielder was a consistent, driving force and played a huge part in the U.S. maintaining a majority of the possession in each contest. Lavelle was questionable for the final after exiting the semifinals with a hamstring injury, but sure didn’t play as if she were battling an injury. Lavelle played her heart out all tournament and was a hige reason the U.S. was so difficult to beat.
2. Goals, goals, goals
The Americans surpassed the record for the most goals (26) scored in a single Women’s World Cup. Half of those can be credited to the historic 13 they scored in their first game rout of Thailand, but the consistent offensive display that followed should not be overlooked.
The team recorded two goals per game in each of its last five matches, with a 3-0 victory over Chile coming after the win
against Thailand. With all the changes to their midfield and attacking line throughout the tournament due to injuries, the U.S.
kept the offense going.
Netherland’s goalkeeper Sari van Veenedaal had a career performance in the finals, spoiling numerous U.S. opportunities
with crazy anticipation and lock-down instincts. Against other goalies, the United States might have put up five goals.
Most would agree that there was a plethora of missed calls in Sunday’s final, specifically in the penalty box. It wasn’t until Alex Morgan caught a high cleat to the shoulder, which — after video review — led to a penalty shot and Rapinoe broke a scoreless tie.
The physicality of Sunday’s game was an entertaining, added obstacle of the contest that made it more enjoyable to watch.
This wasn’t the same physicality we saw against Spain, which saw the U.S. spend a majority of time on the grass rather than
playing the ball. Sunday’s go-ahead tally might have been as a result of a penalty shot, but no one can argue that the United
States was the tougher team.