USWNT headed back to World Cup final after semifinal victory over France

Wambach (Getty Images)

Abby Wambach's continued late-game heroics have the U.S. women's national team a win away from its third World Cup title.

The veteran U.S. forward scored for the third conseuctive game, heading home a Lauren Cheney corner kick in the 79th minute to break a 1-1 deadlock and lead the United States to a 3-1 victory over France in Wednesday's semifinal match. Substitute forward Alex Morgan added an insurance goal three minutes later to ice the match and help the U.S. women clinch a spot in the World Cup final.

The United States returns to the final for the first time since 1999, when it last won the tournament. The U.S. women will meet either Japan or Sweden in Sunday's final. The United States beat Japan twice by 2-0 scorelines in pre-World Cup friendlies and lost to Sweden for the second time this year in the final game of group play.

The United States opened the scoring against France in the ninth minute, when Cheney redirected Heather O'Reilly's cross from the left into the goal.

While the scoreline won't show it, France's midfield controlled the run of play for the better part of the match, and the French equalized in the 55th minute. Sonia Bompastor's cross from the left sailed over its target and inside the far post while U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo kept track of forward Gaetane Thiney.

The United States withstood the French momentum before pulling back ahead through Wambach's header, which tied her with Michelle Akers for the most all-time World Cup goals by an American (12). It was her header by the near post at the death that saved the United States from elimination in the quarterfinals against Brazil and forced penalty kicks, where the Americans made all their kicks and Solo came up with a key save.

France will play the Sweden-Japan loser in Sunday's third-place game.

What did you think of the game? Think the U.S. women will win it all? Would you make any changes to the starting lineup ahead of the final?

Share your thoughts below.

This entry was posted in 2011 Women's World Cup, U.S. Women's National Team. Bookmark the permalink.

85 Responses to USWNT headed back to World Cup final after semifinal victory over France

  1. jonk says:

    I think they can handle Sweden in a rematch. Don’t know about Japan as I haven’t seen them play this tournament.

  2. Either matchup will be intriguing. Sweden as they’ve beaten USA twice. Japan beat Germany on their home turf.

  3. Ben says:

    We need to get Wambach to teach Jozy how to properly head a ball. Also, I don’t follow this team as close as the men’s, but why doesn’t Rapinoe start?

  4. kkicks says:

    I think the lineup should mostly stay the same, except with Rapinoe starting. I think she’s earned a starting spot at this point!

  5. Goalscorer24 says:

    The US looked a bit tired, I am glad they were able to pull it out. A final against Sweden would be pretty exciting, considering they have lost to them twice recently.

  6. Hutskizzle says:

    She started against Sweden and was fairly ineffective. She has been nothing but amazing coming off the bench. She’s the spark we need in the 60th minute. Keep it at that.

  7. The King of Norway says:

    Rapinoe is an awesome super sub. Pia has been brilliant with her lineup and substitutions thus far; she could teach Coach Sweatpants a thing or two about that.

  8. kimo says:

    Morgan > ARod

    She reminds me of a female vsn of Giuseppe Rossi. Agreed on Rapinoe.

  9. kev says:

    It’s amazing how our women’s team is so damn good. They need to be on Letterman,million dollar sponsorships the View, hosting SNL. They need to get the respect they so deserve. We also need to definitely pump more money into the WPS. Make it into a 12 team league and make it the best women’s league in the world

  10. kev says:

    I had my 4 and 2 year old nieces watching the game. Hoping it inspires them.

  11. LoS says:

    agreee with teaching Jozy. and her and Lauren Cheney play the same position.

  12. Dennis says:

    Rapinoe used to start all the time, but she is often a little erratic in her possession and passing, so she was relegated to the super sub role to bring the spark. Which has totally worked out so far.

  13. Patrick says:

    Need Alex Morgan to start! WOOOO!

  14. Ronnie says:

    Bring back the LA Sol…Marta, Abily, Boxx

  15. RB says:

    And Japan lost twice in friendlies to the US right before the tournament (though on the US’ home turf). They didn’t look nearly so threatening in those two 2-0 losses.

    Nevertheless, I’d prefer the US face Sweden. Cannot see them beating the US again, especially so soon. Japan OTOH seems different and that same sort of swing (we’d have to beat them a 3rd time in a row) might now favor them…

  16. EzE says:

    so this is what it feels like to be a supporter of a dominating football team…

  17. RB says:

    Exactly. Was saying the same thing (maybe to Ben) on the game thread. She was often a chance-killer.

  18. Hopper says:

    The USA midfield was pretty awful until Rapinoe came in. Boxx and Lloyd struggled all game long and were turnover machines. I’m really happy the USA won, but it’s kind of hard to believe considering how France dominated the midfield for most of the game.

    It was a good win, but I doubt they can keep playing like this and expect to win in the final.

  19. C(note) says:

    rapinoe and Morgan are exactly where they need to be…coming off the bench in the last 30 min to provide energy and spark to the team. They have been perfect where they are and are crucial to the USA s success.

    1 more win and it’s all yours Abby!!!!

  20. Joe says:

    Game ball Rapinoe.

    We were heading for a loss and trapped in our own end until she came in. All of a sudden, we’re in their end and score two… almost three.

    Pia – take notes Lloyd is not the answer

  21. Mike says:

    Sweden is going to destroy the US again in the final, so best to temper expectations. Sweden has been playing head and shoulders above everyone else in this tournament.

  22. RB says:

    And another thing Tony just reminded us of: the intangible of the Japanese playing for country in the aftermath of the tsunami. I know people keep talking about the American spirit and grit and determination and belief, etc, but I spent 5 years living in Japan and I can tell you that one thing you do NOT want to do as theiopponents is underestimate all those same qualities in the Japanese.

    Nothing against Sweden at all — clearly they’re a quality team — but they would not appear to have any such special motivating factor in this situation.

  23. swoopy says:

    Hard to disagree. The U.S. was badly outplayed, but for the French decided lack of finishing. Good luck to the U.S., but they need better, cleaner midfield play in the title game.

  24. a writer says:

    I had my nephews watching the game, too. Boys can also learn from the women’s game.

  25. RB says:


    Don’t think so, dude. Don’t think they’re even the favorite to make it to the final, but to get to it and not only beat the US again but destroy them? :-)

  26. Paul says:

    The U.S. midfield looked very, very shaky for long stretches — most of the match, in fact. They seemed outnumbered and out of ideas. But the defense held firm, and while France dominated the middle 2/3 of the field, the U.S. mostly controlled the penalty areas. And it doesn’t hurt to have Abby Wambach terrorizing defenders and ‘keepers in the air. France’s nightmare — that their goalkeeper would come up short in the clutch — came true.

  27. a writer says:

    Yeah, like that 1-0 win over Colombia – that was impressive!

  28. shane says:

    Japan is a more difficult match up for the USA. The USA played poorly against Sweden as they often do when they dont need to win. They wont play poorly in the final.

  29. shane says:

    Ooooohhhh USA,

  30. TomM says:

    France probably feels similar to the way our boys felt in ’02 after losing to Germany. They played attractive, dominant soccer for long periods of the game, stretching our defense, but the US made the big plays when it mattered.

    Nice to be on this end of the score…

  31. LiquidYogi says:

    Everyone keeps doubting the US Ladies and they keep shoving it down your throats. This has all happened before, and it will happen again.

  32. federico says:

    Something is wrong with Mens US soccer when the Mexicans and the Womens team is better than the men.

  33. frank says:

    is France the favorite for 2015?

  34. malkin says:

    except that watching WWC makes MLS look like champions league

  35. BSchafe says:

    I think we have to give a lot of credit to Lauren Cheney for moving to the middle of the pitch when Rapinoe came in, she was a calming influence and definitely provided a better attach from midfield. She also scored and got an assist.

  36. ChrisTheLSUTiger says:

    mmmm… feels good, man.

  37. Predicto says:

    Wow – I love Japan’s tiki-taka style!

  38. TimN says:

    I think your assessment of Sweden and how they match up with the U.S. is a bit off the mark. In Sweden’s win in group play, the U.S. outshot them 21-6. Finishing was the problem, particularly from Wambach…she missed a point blank shot early on in that match. However, Wambach’s form has resurged, and Sundhage’s line-ups and substitutions have really begun to gel as this tournament has progressed. I have a hard time seeing Sweden “destroy” the U.S. in a final. First things first though, Sweden has to beat Japan.

  39. ThaDeuce says:

    If that were true, it would be a sad state of affairs. Fortunately, the USMNT would dominate the USWNT.

  40. Adam says:

    When the USWNT wins the world cup…I will propose to Alex Morgan!

  41. RB says:

    Wow — great read and a superb finish.

  42. Wow…Japan ties it up. Good game so far from what I’ve been able to see at work. I don’t know who I would rather see the US play at this point. Sweeden for the revenge I guess!

  43. RB says:

    That lead didn’t last long…

  44. Predicto says:

    Japanese are super in possession – very attractive style. While it doesn’t necessarily translate into a win, it is beautiful.

  45. Japan looking dangerous.

  46. NK says:

    I’d certainly rather play Japan than Sweden-massive physical advantage for us…Wambach would destroy them

  47. PetedeLA says:

    Lloyd has been guilty of the wayward pass, but she also brings much needed stealth and trickery to the middle of the park, in addition to her defensive skills.

    I think she’s just maybe a bit tired. Pia did the right thing taking her off.

    But maybe it is time to start Rapinoe. But for me Rapinoe=instant offence. It’s great to have a weapon like that in the 60th minute when the match is close. The only other players that can bring that kind of offense are O’Reilly and Cheney and they DEFINITELY need to keep starting.

    I just wish the girls would stop giving away possession so cheaply.

  48. philmatt24 says:

    Rapinoe has been great off the bench, but how do you take off a player like Cheney who’s also been great? Cheney scored and assisted today… it’s a good thing to have two players at a position who both deserve a shot, but I keep that particular spot as is.

  49. Aaron in StL says:

    Wambach is the man

  50. Alex G says:


  51. kev says:

    our women have always been better. Surely in the 90’s

  52. RB says:

    Well the Swedes do seem to _stand_ head and shoulders above the Japanese, at least (as indeed they may have against the Colombianas)…

  53. JD in FL says:

    Boxx and Lloyd were the everywhere in the 10-man overtime game v Brazil. I expected there would be some drop-off in performance this game. France’s fluid play through the middle just accentuated things.

  54. Adam says:

    u mean woman? haha

  55. RB says:

    The Swedes aren’t careful and they’ll be surrendering a set piece goal to the Nadeshiko…

  56. matt says:

    Historically the Mexicans have been better too, so I wouldn’t say that return to fortune is a catastrophe. If the US is ever consistently better than Mexico AND as consistently competitive as the USWNT I will count my lucky stars!

  57. RB says:

    Or one from the run of play! Wow…

  58. Joamiq says:

    Wowww. Great job by Kawasumi to take advantage of that open net. Looked like offside on the initial break though. Oh well. Looks like we won’t get a rematch…

  59. RB says:


    Boy am I glad we have a GK like Solo…

  60. Josh says:

    The USWNT has the men’s habit of poorly-weighted passes and leaden first touches, that’s for sure. But perhaps that’s due to tired legs? After all, they played a man down for an hour and had one fewer day of rest. Their style isn’t particularly pleasing from an aesthetic standpoint, but it is effective.

    France played like the women’s version of Arsenal. Elegant, sophisticated midfield play, poor finishing, poor central defenders and GK. Their GK was particularly poor on the second and third US goals.

    Still, the US played a good match, and the supersubs won it for us. Rapinoe is a difference-maker.

  61. Paula says:

    I don’t really think we’ll win that battle in midfield with Japan currently playing this way … I guess we’ll rely on the back line and Solo to keep the ball away. And here’s hoping the strikers put away their chances early.

  62. RB says:

    I hope for the US’ sake that Japan is using up the rest of this ride they’ve been on in this match…

  63. Steve C says:

    So much for that prediction, Mike.

  64. Predicto says:

    My view is USA must disrupt the Japanese mids with close constant physical marking. If Japanese have possession, they’ll win. USA will probably play direct & hope for free kicks and corners – where we have advantage on set pieces.

  65. john says:

    Seriously? They beat us on a PK and a fluke deflection. They got lucky against N. Korea and Colombia for that matter. The US has just beat the 2 best teams in the tournament, an oops Sweden just got scored on AGAIN. Put a sock in it.

  66. wildchild says:

    interesting how France subbed out their CAPTAIN, and then came the goals…

    it wasn’t broken, don’t know why they tried to fix it…

  67. wildchild says:

    haha, no. Sweden lost to Japan.

  68. marco says:

    Watching Japan take apart Sweden with possession and skill, reminds me of comments made by Sunil, and Rongen after an U-20 loss. They said that the USA does not have the technical skills to compete with the football powers, that they must find another way to compete. Of course Korea and Switzerland were in that same tournament and competing with skill. Sunil and Rongen were transferring their short comings onto others, the players. Bob Bradley employs the same negativism. Great athletes can develop those skills, in any nation. It’s up to management to put it together. Rongen is gone, two more to go.

  69. Eurosnob says:

    Not a chance. Sweeden was eliminated by Japan so they will not be in the final.

  70. No. With the tournament being played in Canada, the United States will be the favorite to in 2015.

  71. GW says:

    Maybe now US fans will finally understand that winning the possession battle and winning the game are not the same thing.

  72. Predicto says:

    Wow, Gulati said that? I would like to see a transcript of it – I’ve been wondering for a long time how USSF views soccer development in the USA and what they are doing to improve it.

  73. GW says:

    The French have ten players who play for the same club, Lyon.

  74. a writer says:

    No, Cristiano Ronaldo is the woman.

  75. beachbum says:

    keep Sauerbrun in, or go back to Buehler? and if Buehler’s the choice, does Rampone slide over to the left like Pia did vs. Brazil?

  76. Josh says:

    And they needed 11.

    If only they’d brought their club GK, they might’ve done better. The French GK really let her team down. By not coming off her line on the corner that led to Wambach’s header, she gave Abby a clean look, and he came out w/o cutting down the angle on Morgan’s goal. Another talented French team undone by a loony coach.

  77. Emerald_City_Jason says:

    On the one hand I think with some more rest we’ll play better and our pedigree will show itself in the final. On the other hand…we need much more from our mids, which not only allowed France to dominate possession and chances but kept Krieger and O’Reilly from pushing forward at all.

    And there’s the whole tsunami/nuclear meltdown thing. After that Brazil game we’d normally be the tournament darlings, but we’re about to run into what could be the planet’s feel-good story of the year.

    Nervous already.

  78. PD says:

    you’ve missed out. they were masterful against Germany… even though you could say Germany froze a bit under the pressure.

  79. pd says:

    do we have to talk about this right now? honestly it’s like you’re a stalker or something….

  80. Alex G says:

    usa will win this tournament, i have no doubts in my mind!!!

  81. GW says:

    That’s a overly harsh.

  82. Yeah, that’s what Germany tried to do in their match against Japan. How did that work out?

    US really has their work cut out for them in the final.

    Go USA!

  83. Steve says:

    Sauerbrunn looked quicker and more technically proficient than Buehler, so I’d like to see her stay in; however, Sundhage is very loyal to her starters, so I’m afraid Sauerbrunn will ride pine. I would think the more likely areas for change could be at center mid (Cheney or Lindsey to replace either Lloyd or Boxx)and forward (Morgan or Cheney over Rodriguez).

  84. beachbum says:

    I’d stay with Sauerbrunn too.

    Lloyd lost her legs pretty early in that game after logging all the minutes up to that point at center mid; looked like a player with no legs vs. France, but I expect she knows that and is primed for a quality perfomance vs. Japan.

    Cheney for Rodriguez…I like that one. keeps Morgan as the supersub, keeps Rapinoe as one too, and when Pia does sub, she’ll have some flexibility to move Cheney around because she’s so versatile, arguably the team’s best player right now, and she’s good in the middle of the field