Everything on the line. A place in the final. Another step on the Tour for Four.
The controversy began the second the lineups came out. For England, it would be the benching of Fran Kirby, Alex Greenwood and Toni Duggan. For the United States, Christen Press would see the start instead of Megan Rapinoe. The explanation for England was tactical, but for the United States, a bit more “who the heck knows.” It could have been for a lot of reasons: injury, rotation, tactics. At kickoff, the exact reason was unknown, but the decision payed off as Press opened up the scoring in the first 10 minutes with a header toward nearpost. It was a fitting reward for absolutely relentless levels of pressure beforehand.
Part of that pressure was this. Absolutely incredible stuff from Rose Lavelle. She would have four shots herself in the first half.
That said, the lead wouldn’t last incredibly long. Nine minutes later, Ellen White would finish England’s first chance of the game off the bounce in beautiful fashion, sending it to the far corner to level at 1-1. The 28th minute brought almost a brilliant chance for England again, but the United States got bailed out when Beth Mead tripped in the box. England seemed to be running control of the game, but a beautiful cross in from Lindsey Horan gave the U.S their second goal off the head of Alex Morgan in the 31st. The goal would tie her with Beth Mead for six in the Golden Boot race. Two minutes later, England would answer quickly with a screamer from distance as Keira Walsh found herself with a tiny bit of space, but Alyssa Naeher came up huge with fingertip save.
The first chance of the second half was an English one, a dangerous whipping ball, and England never got their goal, but they did get an offsides. All in all, not a ginormous amount of excitement between the 45th and 65th minute, although England would sub in talisman Fran Kirby, and Rose Lavelle, who was absolutely fantastic, would be subbed out in place of Sam Mewis after seemingly picking up an injury. Right after the sub, Ellen White would find herself in the middle of the pitch running into space and slid the ball in the back of the net, but VAR came back to rule her just barely offsides to the relief of the USWNT. The 79th minute would continue to expose the weakness of the midfield defending as Demi Stokes sent in a pretty ball to Ellen White who would swing and miss right in front of goal, but a collision on the leg with Becky Sauerbrunn would send England to the penalty spot. After several minutes of deliberation, Steph Houghton would send in a very, very poor PK and a wasted opportunity covered up by Alyssa Naeher would send England into pure panic mode. A few minutes later, things would only get worse as studs up into Alex Morgan, Millie Bright would get her second yellow of the game and drop her team to ten players. Going a player down would have immediate ramifications as the danger of the English attack would dissipate, and the United States would control much more of the possession. After seven painful minutes of extra time, the whistle would blow and the United States would be in their third consecutive World Cup Final.