The USWNT won their 4th women’s World Cup beating the Netherlands 2-0 in the finals in Lyon, France today. Megan Rapinoe (PK) and Rose Lavelle scored in the mid second half, eight minutes apart to settle the match.
Rapinoe who plays professionally for the Seattle Reign FC won the Golden Boot as the tournament’s top scorer & the Golden Ball as its top player. Alex Morgan (below) of the Orlando Pride won the Silver Boot.
There have now been 8 women’s World Cup events since its inception in 1991. The US has won four times (1991, 1999, 2015 & 2019), Germany twice (2003 & 2007), Norway (1995) & Japan (2011) once.
There were many new trends in this tournament worth discussing from a sporting & social perspective. First, was former women’s players being allowed to dominate the broadcasts, lead discussion of rules disputes, and provide needed commentary where required. Most of it was spot-on, and much better than the hysterics & apologetics we get regularly in men’s FIFA. A pleasant eye-opener.
The women’s WC 2019 was also another advance for sports science, in that Video Assisted Replay (VAR) was given a chance, competently managed, and used effectively. There were issues early-on, for sure, but the women stuck with it and learned from their mistakes. They needed to, because there were a lot of blown calls by officials & lines-women in WC 2019.
The stat at the beginning of the Fox broadcast was 32 VAR’s as a tournament total before the finals, with 28 resulting overturned calls, and only 4 confirmed. As we can see, VAR certainly helped make up for really bad officiating, which is endemic in the women’s game, because it’s so much newer than men’s competition. To their credit, it takes courage to stand in the middle of the pitch, with headphones tuned-in to a replay booth and being overturned repeatedly, but that’s what it took for this tournament to be legitimate.
In the end, the best team won on their merits, and there is no controversy about a blown call costing a team a critical match. When the officials get overturned over & over, they review those mistakes, and learn from them. That’s what I saw in the end. As the final match began, there were a few seconds when a second ball was in the field-of-play, and the official & lines-woman didn’t blow their whistles– until it got embarrassing.
It was in the midfield, and it didn’t affect the match, but it’s worth noting the competence level of even the best women’s officials. There’s definitely room for improvement, and VAR can be helpful as a training & accountability tool. It always helps to get the call right, and that’s what VAR can do, so there are no more “Hand of God” goals ever again. That is the main takeaway in the women’s World Cup 2019 for men’s fútbol.
In the US_Netherlands finals, the woman official was excellent. There was a hard foul early-to-mid first half, which was immediately whistled and correctly yellow-carded. Making that correct call, at the correct, time gave the referee control of the match from there on. The players respect that call, and from there on she’s essentially coaching both sides equally to play the game fairly & competitively.
Lots of flops weren’t whistled, leaving wanna-be’s & fakers on the turf looking foolish, as they should. It was under control on both sides, which is the point of officiating. VAR got them there, with a steep learning curve. You have to respect that.
Here’s another one. The 23 players on the USWNT consider themselves to be a family, and stick up for each other. Their motivation was to win back-to-back World Cups– the right way. This isn’t a brutal hacking or flopping USWNT team. They probably take more than the give but they have to, being the overwhelming favorites going in, that’s what you have to deal with.
By the end, the USWNT was clearly the best, but with the caveat that the world has very much caught up. The US-England semi-final was a 2-1 squeaker without their captain & playmaker Megan Rapinoe. Only a blown penalty kick prevented that from being 2-2, and likely OT. With that said, championship teams need to be able to handle injuries & adversity, and they did it without coming off arrogant in the end. They respected their opponents & the game.
The USWNT did a fantastic job of pulling themselves back, especially after their perceived over-exuberance in their 13-0 thrashing of Thailand in their opening match. They apparently learned that winning is important, only if you do it in a way that lets people like you when it’s over. No one likes loudmouth showboats, no matter how good they are.
No one like cowards either, so when Donald Trump tried to inject himself into the narrative and grab himself some glory he doesn’t deserve, Megan Rapinoe spoke for the USWNT and took the media heat without backing down. She didn’t sing a word of the US national anthem as it was played before the finals, and she wasn’t alone on the US team. I respect that. The USWNT will not be visiting the White House for a ceremony, photo-ops & congratulations from the US President.
Rapinoe who is lesbian, has already said she will visit House Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. My thoughts on that? When people back up their confident talk, then you have to give them their stage & let them speak, even if you don’t like what they’re going to say. The US has a president who doesn’t acknowledge that it is his sworn duty to defend the Constitution, whose First Amendment is free speech. The USWNT winning the 2019 World Cup the way they did, is a blow to Trump’s brand of fascism.
Standing cheers here for the USWNT!!!!