U.S. Women's National Team

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.

  • RB

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


  • JD in FL

    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.


  • RB

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


  • matt

    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!


  • Joamiq

    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…


  • Josh

    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.


  • Paula

    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.


  • RB

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


  • Predicto

    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.


  • john

    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.


  • wildchild

    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…


  • marco

    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.


  • Eurosnob

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


  • GW

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


  • Predicto

    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.


  • beachbum

    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?


  • Josh

    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.


  • Emerald_City_Jason

    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.


  • PD

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


  • pd

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


  • SoCal Soccer Mom

    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!


  • Steve

    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).


  • beachbum

    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


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