The USWNT passed its first real test of this Women’s World Cup with flying colors. They struck early in each half and were able to get out with all three points behind the 2-0 victory over Sweden. That win was also enough to ensure top spot in Group F with a maximum nine points. Now that they’ve advanced to the knockout rounds of the tournament, things really get serious. There are no more second chances. It’s now win or go home. And the opponent for their Round of 16 game is a team they have already beaten this year: Spain.
There had been questions coming into the tournament about whether the US really should be considered the favorite to win it all. After all, France is the host and the US had been historically bad at their last major tournament (the 2016 Rio Olympics). However, the US has now emphatically answered their most vocal doubters with resounding victories in all three of their group stage games: 13-0 over Thailand, 3-0 over Chile, and 2-0 over Sweden. At no point in any of those games has the US looked pressured and that has allowed Jill Ellis to play 21 of her 23 players (the only two players not to see the field are the two backup goalkeepers). The only real concern so far (besides a penalty piss by Carli Lloyd against Chile) is the health of the players, Alex Morgan chief among them after she took a knock against Sweden, but Ellis expects her to be ready to go against Spain. This is only the second time the Women’s World Cup has had a Round of 16, but the US has never not won their first knockout round game in this competition. In the Round of 16 four years ago, the US defeated Colombia 2-0 on goals from Alex Morgan and Carli Lloyd. Now they gear up to do it again as they get set to take on an opponent making a bit of history at this Women’s World Cup: Spain.
Four years ago, Spain made their first ever Women’s World Cup appearance. But their campaign was a disaster as the finish dead last in the group. This time around, however, things have gone much better and they are making their first ever appearance in the knockout rounds of this tournament. They got their campaign in France of to a very good start, beating South Africa 3-1. They followed that up with a not-too-shabby 1-0 loss to perennial contenders Germany, before closing out the group stage with a 0-0 draw against China. That was good enough to finish second in Group B behind Germany (who got a maximum 9 points). The majority of of their roster is domestically based. Of the 23 players, only three are not based in Spain: Irene Paredes and Virginia Torrecilla both play in France, while Celia Jimenez plays in the US with Reign FC (formerly the Seattle Reign). Even within their domestic players, the majority all come from playing at the same club with 10 of their domestic players based at Barcelona and another 5 based at Atletico Madrid. They do have several players capable of putting the ball in the back of the net, with four players netting double digit goals at the international level. Chief among them is Jennifer Hermoso, who has 28 goals in 67 international appearances. The Spaniards are certainly familiar with the US, having played against them in Alicante back in January. The US prevailed in that game by a score of 1-0, with Christen Press netting the only goal of the game.
1. Carli Lloyd snapped her streak of scoring in six consecutive Women’s World Cup games against Chile on Thursday.
2. The US has never failed to advance to the semi-finals of the Women’s World Cup.
3. This is the second time at this tournament that the US had played in Reims, the first being their opener against Thailand.
When and where to watch the game on US TV and streaming
USA leads 1-0-0
Tuesday, January 22, 2019
Eastadio Jose Rico Perez
Spain 0-1 USA
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