The United States women’s soccer team were crowned world champions in Lyon on Sunday.
The United States defeated the Netherlands 2-0 and looked comfortable doing so.
The Dutch side made the game difficult for the Americans, defending well and keeping the score 0-0 at the end of the first half. The score at 45 minutes was due, in no small part, to a sensational performance from Dutch keeper Sari van Veenendaal who won the tournament’s golden glove award.
The game’s pivotal moment came in the 60th minute, when Alex Morgan went down in the penalty area after a high kick from Stephanie van der Gragt caught the striker in the arm.
Megan Rapinoe stepped up and sent van Veenendaal the wrong way and converted the penalty.
After the goal, the Netherlands had to push players forward in attempt to equalize, opening the game up.
As the game opened up and spaces in behind became more available, the Americans were in their element. In the 69th minute, Rose Lavelle, after taking nearly 40-yards of space she was given, fired a shot into the bottom corner, effectively ending the reality of a Dutch comeback.
The win is the United States’ fourth Women’s World Cup win, extending its record of most tournaments won. The tournament win was the Americans’ second straight, Germany previously completed this feat with back-to-back wins in 2003 and 2007.
The United States also broke several other records over the course of the tournament: most goals in a single match and highest margin of victory (13-goal win over Thailand); most goals by a player in a single game (Morgan, five goals against Thailand); most goals in one Women’s World Cup (26).
The United States players also took home the majority of the individual awards. Rapino earned the golden boot (most goals) and the golden ball (best player). Morgan earned the silver boot (second most goals), and Lavelle won the bronze ball (third best player). The golden glove (best keeper) was awarded to van Veenendaal, and England’s Lucy Bronze was awarded the silver ball.
The United States was the tournament’s strongest team and deserved winners. However, the tournament had the most parity of any Women’s World Cup in recent memory. Due to increasing investment and fan interest in the women’s game in Europe, teams such as England, France, the Netherlands and Italy have made great strides toward challenging the United States.
While the United States as made history in several categories, the core of the team — Rapinoe, Tobin Heath, Becky Sauerbrunn and others — will likely no longer be playing by the time the 2023 World Cup begins.
Although the United States will have a fresh group of players, who are arguably better than the current squad, other nations are quickly improving the infrastructure of the women’s game, and parity within the game will only increase by 2023.