Georgia Soccer Practice

The Georgia Soccer team meets for practice in Athens, Ga., on August 28, 2013. (Photo/ Randy Schafer, randy.drum.schafer@gmail.com)

The semifinals of the FIFA Women’s World Cup are now set. England will face the United States on Tuesday, July 2, and the Netherlands will face Sweden on Wednesday, July 3. 

The quarterfinals provided some of the tournament’s most anticipated matchups, and once the games began, viewers saw the greatest individual performances of the competition so far. 

The first match of the round, between Norway and England, saw England cruise past a Norwegian side that never looked dangerous. Lucy Bronze provided the stand-out for the Lionesses. The outside back went marauding up the right flank time after time, giving the Norwegian defence problems. Bronze assisted the first goal in the third minute. Then, in the 57th minute, Bronze won a freekick just outside the Norwegian penalty area. Bethany Mead, instead of playing the ball into the box, rolled it across the top of the penalty to Bronze. Bronze’s shot was always rising, and Norwegian keeper Ingrid Hjelmseth had now chance as the ball flew into the roof of the net. Bronze’s performance saw England through, and England will face the United States in the semifinals. 

The other standout performance of the round came from United States winger Megan Rapinoe. In an interview with Eight by Eight, Rapinoe stated she would not accept an invitation to visit the White House, were the United States to win. President Trump responded with a thread of tweets. 

After the back-and-forth with the president and with all eyes on her, Rapinoe put in a world-class performance. In the fifth minute, Rapinoe whipped the ball into the box from a free kick on the left side of the area, and Sarah Bouhaddi never got a chance to see the ball before it bounced past her into the back of the net. 

Rapinoe’s second came in the 65th minute. After a nice combination from Alex Morgan and Tobin Heath, Heath rolled a ball across the penalty area, and it came all the way out to the back post where Rapinoe was waiting for a simple finish. 

France’s Wendie Renard would get one goal back in the 81st, but Les Bleues were never able to overcome the deficit. 

On the other side of the bracket, the Netherlands eased past Italy 2-0, and Sweden defeated what many believed to be a superior German side. The Swedish team came back from a 1-0 deficit to secure a spot in the semifinals. 

Although Sweden and the Netherlands will be an interesting matchup, most of the tournament’s coverage is focussing on the United States and England. 

The Americans have won their last 10 Women’s World Cup matches, equalling the tournament’s record currently held by Norway 1995-1999. 

Rapinoe and the rest her teammates are beginning to find celebrity status for their on-field play and off-field activism. One of the team’s most recent endorsements has come from Zac Efron. The actor has recently made waves after dying his hair platinum blonde, but he has now vowed to match Rapinoe and dye it purple.

Whether or not Efron dyes his hair is hardly as consequential as whether players accept a presidential invitation to the White House, but both situations will be interesting to watch as the final games of the tournament are played. 

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