Web Analytics Made Easy - Statcounter

World Cup: US struggles, New Zealand falls, Colombia shocks the world

Share this Post:
Manuela Vanegas celebrates a late, late goal as Colombia retake the lead in a dramatic finale in Sydney — Photo by Rick Rycroft / AP
Manuela Vanegas celebrates a late, late goal as Colombia retake the lead in a dramatic finale in Sydney — Photo by Rick Rycroft / AP

The Women's World Cup continues with all the Queer drama, shocking upsets, and satisfying goals a fan could ask for. This week, 16 teams progress out of bracket play. The top two in each group will continue into the knock-out round.

Packing their bags
Despite a win against Norway and despite being one of the host countries, New Zealand is officially out of the tournament. In their second game of group play, the home team lost in a surprising upset to the Philippines. Their final match, against Switzerland, ended in a 0-0 tie. If New Zealand had won, they could have advanced to the bracket.

While the team is devastated to leave the tournament so early, many players can be proud of their performances. New Zealand's MVP, Hannah Wilkinson, left nothing behind on the pitch. Scoring the only goal for her country, Wilkinson played her heart out. She had eight shots on goal in the country's three games.

The Canadian national team is also headed back home after being eliminated in their final game, against Australia. Australia, the other home team, obliterated Canada with a 4-0 victory. Canada's early victory over the Republic of Ireland left fans hopeful that the country could make it to the next round. However, a tie with Nigeria left them scrambling to play defense against their group's powerhouse Australia. Ultimately, Canada could not defend against Australia's Hayley Raso, who scored two goals in the match.

Canada put up a decent fight against both Australia and Nigeria. Though fans are sad to see them leave, they are incredibly proud of the games they played. One of Canada's hardest-working players was O.L. Reign midfielder Quinn. Throughout three games, the midfielder ran almost 20 miles in total! They are also the first Non-Binary athlete to compete in a World Cup.

Following Canada's loss, Brazil lost to France in a shocking upset and is now out of the tournament. Many fans anticipated that Brazil would put up a stronger fight. Few could have predicted the team, led by world-famous soccer star Marta, wouldn't even progress past the group stage. Their final match was a well-fought battle. However, France secured their victory with a second goal in the 83rd minute.

Megan Rapinoe consoles Portugal's Jessica Silva following the draw, which knocked Portugal out of the competition — Photo by Rafaela Pontes / AP  

The US struggles through to sweet 16
Fans were on the edge of their seats watching the United States play against the Netherlands on Wednesday, July 26. Going into the game, both squads had a victory under their belts, with the US demolishing Vietnam 3-0 and the Netherlands squeezing out a 1-0 victory over Portugal. The US-Netherlands match was especially exciting for soccer fans as it was a rematch from the last World Cup final, where the US won 2-0.

The Netherlands had spent the last five years preparing for this very rematch. In the 17th minute, midfielder Jill Roord, dubbed Netherlands' most eligible Queer bachelor, scored in a hasty breakaway. For the rest of the half, the US attempted futile shots on goal. Despite maintaining possession for most of the game, the USWNT could not find the back of the net.

Early in the second half, the US women's frustration was palpable. Netherlands midfielder Danielle Van de Donk collided with US team captain Lindsey Horan, jabbing the latter in the gut. Horan went down and was attended to after the play finished. While she did not exit the field, she rose slowly and lingered at the line while medics examined her.

A moment later, Horan was back on her feet, limping into the action. The referees called a corner kick. As the US was setting up for the play, Van de Donk spat some choice words towards Horan. The two engaged in a verbal altercation that led the ref to stop the game and sort out the disagreement. As it turns out, anger, tension, and a jolt to the stomach is just what Horan needed — the powerhouse midfielder scored on the corner kick, leading many to conclude that a goal is the best way to shut the haters up.

After the game, Van de Donk and Horan made amends, posting pictures of themselves smiling and hugging. Horan also took a moment to poke fun at Van de Donk, who had to don a swimming cap for concussion prevention after a collision with US player Rose Lavelle.

The US-Netherlands game ended in a 1-1 tie, putting the USWNT only slightly above the Dutch team in their group.

Things took a turn for the worse on Tuesday morning when the US hit the pitch for their final group match against Portugal. To stay at the top, the US would have to beat Portugal by at least one goal, matching the Netherlands' performance in their first game. Die-hard American fans stayed awake to watch the game, which aired at midnight PST. Many fans noted the match was not worth the loss of sleep.

Portugal outplayed the US, maintaining possession for 56% of the game. The US had more shots on goal but missed the net 17 times. Players could not seem to connect passes or form coherent plays. At one point, the camera panned to the crowd where players from the winning 1999 USWNT, including the legendary Mia Hamm, looked on with pursed lips.

In the final minutes, US coach Vlatko Andonovski changed the on-field formation to a defensive strategy. His strategy worked, and the game ended in a 0-0 tie, progressing the US forward to play another game. However, the tense match was not without many setbacks. As anxieties rose, both squads got sloppy with fouls. Midfielder Rose Lavelle earned a second yellow card, putting her out of play for the next match against Sweden. Newcomer to the USWNT Naomi Girma earned the title "Woman of the Match" for her numerous sweeping saves on defense. Her team would likely be on a flight back home had she not held up the back line. However, many sports analysts note the real MVP of the game was Portugal's keeper, Inês Pereira, who had six saves in the game.

Teams to watch out for
While many American fans have felt discouraged by watching the US struggle in their early round-robin games, their competition only proves how far women's soccer has come in the last 24 years. In 1999, the US "dream team" seemed decades ahead of their rivals, even in European countries where women's soccer had been popular for years. As the sport continues to flourish and women across the globe are encouraged to pursue sports, the US is no longer the only powerhouse to watch out for.

The Netherlands is the United States' fiercest competitor in this year's tournament. Itching for revenge, this group is tougher, faster, and more cunning than they were five years ago when they last made it to the finals. The Netherlands have made three appearances in the Cup final but have never taken home the hardware. With stellar wins against Portugal and Vietnam (they beat the latter 7-0), they have set themselves up as the team to watch.

One of the most exciting upsets to come out of group play this year was Japan's victory over Spain in Group C. Spain was poised as the group's top team, beating Costa Rica 3-0 and Zambia 5-0. However, while all eyes were on them, Japan was coming up from behind.

Japan also beat Zambia 5-0 and got two goals over Costa Rica, putting them just below Spain on the leaderboard. By all means it should have been a close game, and experts predicted Spain to take the lead. However, halfway through the first half, Japan already had two goals. Before the half-time whistle, Japanese superstar Hinata Miyazawa scored her second goal and Japan's third. The final score was a whopping 4-0, with Mina Tanaka scoring in the 82nd minute. Both Spain and Japan move on.

Another squad to keep an eye on is Colombia. Because Germany has won the Women's World Cup twice, many predicted they would exit their group rounds as the top seed. However, they were toppled on Sunday, July 30, when Colombia beat them. Colombia's Linda Caicedo started the second half with an early goal, putting the team ahead by one point. In the final minute before overtime play Germany's Alexandra Popp scored a tying point. The match looked like it would close out in a 1-1 tie when, out of nowhere, Colombia's Manuela Vanegas scored a last-minute point. Both teams will progress, with Colombia coming out on top.

The heat will begin this week in the first rounds of the sweet sixteen. On Friday, August 4, Switzerland will play Spain. On Saturday, August 5, the Netherlands will play Italy, and Japan will play Norway. On Sunday, August 6, the US will play Sweden. Monday will see England play Nigeria and Australia play Denmark.

The US will have to pull together, especially after losing Lavelle, if they want to progress further in the tournament. They are poised to make history. Victory could put them on the path to becoming the first team (men or women) to win three consecutive cups. Failure could make this team the first to exit the tournament before the semifinals.