How to watch: Friday’s United States-France game is being broadcast by Fox (English) and Telemundo (Spanish) in the United States. To find out who has the television rights where you are, click here.
Here’s what’s happening:
Two fast U.S. chances to start the second half.
Bouhaddi put to work almost immediately after halftime: a hard, low Mewis shot forces her to dive to her left to palm the ball away, but it goes directly to Heath. She controls and fires, and Bouhaddi, quickly to her feet, kicks it away at the near post. That’s a big scare right off the bat, and could have been a dagger.
She’s not out of trouble, though: the United States has won consecutive corners, and France can’t get out of its own end.
One last chance for the U.S. before the break.
Mewis ends up with the ball on the last push forward in the first half, and fires a shot at Bouhaddi from straight on that is easily saved. She had Morgan at the back post, and Rapinoe to her left, so that probably wasn’t the perfect decision. But the whistle blows, and the teams head for the locker room. Jill Ellis will have a hard time finding fault with that half. The United States had its first shot in the first minute and a goal after five. The defense has been impressive, too: no panic, just consistent positioning (Dunn excepted) and every stop they have needed to make.
France’s Diacre, meanwhile, has some work to do. France didn’t muster a shot on target in the first half.
It’s getting a little more physical.
O’Hara just dropped Majri like Draymond Green setting a pick, but avoids a yellow. That comes a minute after Morgan gets whistled for kicking Renard’s foot on a free ball. Renard goes down screaming, but Morgan isn’t having it.
“I didn’t touch her,” Morgan tells the Ukrainian referee, Kateryna Monzul. “She’s faking.”
Now it’s Lavelle who goes down, and on the ensuing free kick Renard just absolutely snowplows Sam Mewis to win a header. A few messages being sent suddenly.
France does not have a shot yet.
At least, not one on goal. The United States keeps pressing France out wide and then collapsing on anyone when the ball is served back in — on free kicks, crosses, whatever. It sounds defensive, but effectively what they’re doing is forcing France to send in balls that the Americans think they can win. For the moment, they have been winning them, even if a few have come in with a bit more sting than others.
One small thing to watch, though: Dunn, the left back, has allowed herself to drift inside a few times, and that can be dangerous if she gives too much room out wide.
This could be trouble for the U.S.: Morgan is down at midfield.
Morgan took a beating in the Spain game on Monday, and she just won a header in her own end helping out on defense. But she seems to be affected by the heat here, not anything from that play. She was just holding her forehead, for what it’s worth, and sprayed water on her face to cool off.
UPDATE: She’s back.
The U.S. is really working hard today.
It’s always the little things, the things that coaches drill into players that you notice. Every time France has possession in the U.S. end, the American midfielders — Ertz, Lavelle and Mewis — are collapsing at the top of the area, shutting down anything France tries to get going. That’s just hard work and positioning, and it’s not affecting their ability to get forward as soon as possession is won, but it makes you think the U.S. staff noticed that might be France’s engine room, its pivot point in attacks, and they are just smothering everyone who tries something there. It is forcing France outside, and allowing the midfielders to drop back a little more when the crosses come back in. Ertz has headed a few balls clear. Lavelle just did, too.
Rapinoe gets in again!
Two passes and Rapinoe is sprinting at a charging Bouhaddi, who comes alllll the way out of her area to slide-tackle the ball away.
Mewis goes down in the area a moment later as the play recycles, but it appears she dived. Lucky to avoid a yellow there.
But now we’re down in the U.S. end again. Frantic pace early. This is FUN.
A little ambition from France at last.
Diani gets around Dunn and whips in a cross, but it is headed on by Sauerbrunn. Majri controls and sends it back in, and France gets a header. But Naeher smothers. Nice little bit of fight from France. It will need more of that, and from Diani especially.
Rory Smith on the atmosphere inside Parc des Princes:
The circus has, finally, come to town. This may only be a quarterfinal — and it may, in the long run, have little or no impact on who ultimately wins the tournament — but it does, without question, feel like a substantially bigger occasion than that. The stands are full of tricolors and Stars and Stripes, the balance impressively even; there is a huge banner of Marianne, France’s national symbol, in the Parc des Princes, and the first beats of Seven Nation Army welcomed the teams.
This is the game that Megan Rapinoe — not alone, most likely — wanted: arguably the most anticipated in the history of the Women’s World Cup, between two teams who might both be able to make a case to be considered the best on the planet, and the favorite for the tournament.
Worries that the sapping heat that has enveloped France over the last week or so might ruin the occasion, draining the players, can probably be set aside: It is warm, but the edge has been blunted. France is the one team that might have something of a psychological edge over the Americans, the one team that seems to have its number. This is the chance to prove it.
GOOOOOOALLLLL!! Rapinoe! 1-0!
The absolutely perfect start for the United States. Rapinoe, taking the free kick won by Morgan, drives it at the near post, where a crowd of players blocks Bouhaddi’s view. The low cross screams in, nutmegs a jumping Ertz, and is past the goalkeeper before she has seen it. A blistering, dangerous set piece, and the Americans lead, 1-0.
You can blame Bouhaddi there a little, but that free kick was merciless, and she had to respect the runners at the near post. When no one touched it, the pace of it was just too much for her to react. Rapinoe now has four goals in the World Cup.
That’s the fifth game in a row where the United States has scored first, and in the first 15 minutes. For a team not lacking in confidence, and a French one that might be wondering if it was up to this, that start could be telling. Don’t expect the French to just roll up, not in front of this crowd. But their day just got a lot harder.
YELLOW for Mbock early. Big moment.
Rapinoe took a fast throw and sprung Morgan down the left. Mbock, beaten for pace, has no choice but to pull her down. Smart play, but she will be on a yellow for 86 minutes now. Not a great place to be for a center back who can expect to be under pressure quite a bit. Free kick for Rapinoe …
Ertz with the first shot and we’re off.
Not a great start for France, whose first touch is Henry driving a ball directly out of bounds. But Rapinoe gets deep with the first U.S. hint of possession, beats her defender, Torrent, and pushes across to Ertz, who fires a hard shot that Bouhaddi dives to save. Solid intent, but France is immediately coming back at the Americans. This is the pace we wanted to see.
Watch the pace early: It could be telling.
The United States has opened every game with its foot on the gas, pressing aggressively from the minute the ball rolls off the spot. (Unlike many teams, the U.S. rolls the ball forward at kickoff, not back.) That sense of urgency has paid off: The U.S. has scored in the first 15 minutes of all four of its games, and it will surely want to do the same today. An early goal might bring out any hidden doubts in France.
France, though, may want to do the same thing. Buoyed by a capacity crowd and the highest of stakes and expectations, the French would get a world of good from an early goal as well.
Heat or no heat — remember, you can’t play at full throttle for 90 minutes, or 120 — it just doesn’t feel like this is the day for some quiet early probing. These teams probably are going to come out swinging. At least, let’s hope so. More fun that way.
Today’s starting lineups are out. Horan is on the bench for the U.S.
United States starting lineup: Alyssa Naeher; Crystal Dunn, Becky Sauerbrunn, Abby Dahlkemper, Kelley O’Hara; Julie Ertz, Samantha Mewis, Rose Lavelle; Megan Rapinoe, Alex Morgan, Tobin Heath
France starting lineup: Sarah Bouhaddi; Marion Torrent, Griedge Mbock Bathy, Wendie Renard, Amel Majri; Elise Bussaglia, Gaëthane Thiney, Amandine Henry; Kadidiatou Diani, Valérie Gauvin, Eugénie Le Sommer.
Analysis: The biggest news in today’s lineups is that Lindsey Horan, the Americans’ French-trained midfielder, can’t find a place in the midfield. United States Coach Jill Ellis, a creature of habit, sticks with her three-person midfield of Julie Ertz, Sam Mewis and Rose Lavelle. This is, in part, a problem of Ellis’s embarrassment of riches in midfield, and her steadfast devotion to a 4-3-3 formation. In that, there is simply no room for Ertz, Mewis and Horan. (Lavelle, a different kind of midfielder, a more creative type, was always going to claim one of the three places.) Does that mean Horan gets the day off? Probably not. With the heat, we may even see her earlier than when she appeared against Spain the other day. But it’s hard to argue against Ertz and Mewis (who has been phenomenal in France.)
For France, Corinne Diacre also sticks with the team that got her here. Keep an eye on Diani, who will probably try to test Crystal Dunn early and often on the right, and Le Sommer, a predatory finisher who always seems to appear right where she needs to be right when she needs to be there.
The Americans will try to take the game to France; they have scored in the first 15 minutes of every game at the World Cup, and doing so tonight will only increase the pressure on Diacre’s players. But the Americans’ hyperaggressive style has risks: France is good enough to counter quickly, and has the finishers to punish opponents who stray too far upfield.
Here come the Americans.
‘They are wired for this. They are built for this.’
Our preview of today’s match lays out a compelling case for each team to win today. A sampling:
Why the United States will win:
The French can take some confidence from their victory over the United States in a January friendly. But there is a big difference between an off-season exhibition match with several regulars missing and a World Cup quarterfinal with a veteran team purring like a finely tuned sports car. A team that can attack with as many as eight players at once when its fullbacks, Crystal Dunn and Kelley O’Hara, are fully engaged. A team that has, at last, seen its goalkeeper, Alyssa Naeher , tested in a big game. A team that can sense the world shifting, the European nations rising, and wants no part of being the American side that lets the program’s flag dip.
“What people tend to not realize is the U.S. team lives in pressure,” United States Coach Jill Ellis said. “When you’re young and you come into this program, there’s always a target on your back. So it’s almost a place where we live regularly.
“Yeah, this is a big game, and I think the players know that. But I also think it’s that expectation of being ready for this moment. We talk a lot about it. They are wired for this. They are built for this.”
Why France will win:
Sure, getting to the quarterfinals has not been a waltz for Coach Corinne Diacre and her team, and getting past the United States will not be any easier. But there are reasons, beyond a home crowd and a perceived destiny that France has to win a Women’s World Cup sometime, to think the hosts have a real chance on Friday. The center backs Wendie Renard and Griedge Mbock Bathy, teammates for club and country, are a formidable barrier to any attack, especially one led by (a possibly injured) Alex Morgan, who was battered by Spain in her last game. Kadidiatou Diani offers a dangerous threat on the wing, especially if France counters quickly against a United States team programmed to attack en masse, and Eugénie Le Sommer, Amandine Henry and Valérie Gauvin have shown themselves to be capable finishers.
“They are the reigning champions, they’ve got a great trophy case, we’ve still got a lot to prove,” Henry said Thursday. “But I think we’ve played very well over the past 18 months. We’re well aware of our abilities. We want to show that tomorrow. And I think that we can go toe to toe with this side — I think we can beat them. We’ve already shown that. We need to do that in this competition itself.”
Read the whole article here.
It is hot in France today. Verrrrrrry hot.
A heat wave stretching across Europe this week has killed several people and set off wildfires — including one in Spain sparked by manure that spontaneously combusted. Those conditions produced a record high temperature of nearly 112 degrees Fahrenheit in France on Thursday. Friday may be even hotter.
The good news for the teams is that Friday’s game at Parc des Princes in Paris will kick off at 9 p.m. local time, which is expected to moderate the worst of the weather slightly. But both sides are expecting brutal conditions.
France’s coach, Corinne Diacre, and captain, Amandine Henry, were asked about the high temperatures several times in their final news conference ahead of the match, but while both talked about the need to prepare differently and take on more fluids than usual, each dismissed the temperature as an overriding concern.
“We know that it’s very hot at the moment but you can’t moan about that,” Henry said. “It’s the same for both sides.”
Still, the heat could be an issue. The United States is the oldest team in the field, and it has had one fewer day of rest than France since the round of 16. United States Coach Jill Ellis raised some eyebrows during Monday’s game against Spain — just as the heat wave was starting to build — when she curiously (O.K., inexplicably) failed to insert a sub until after the 80th minute.
Ellis may not have that luxury on Friday but, fortunately for her, she has the deepest bench in the field to call upon if she wants some fresh legs.
A family reunion to brighten your day.
United States striker Jessica McDonald, who made her World Cup debut at age 31 when she came on as a substitute against Chile in the group stage, is the only mom on the American team. Her 7-year-old son, Jeremiah, finally arrived in France on Wednesday, and she posted a sweet video of their reunion on social media that day.
Many of the American players have had friends and family in tow at the World Cup, but a few — notably Carli Lloyd — prefer to keep loved ones away while they are, in Lloyd’s words, “at work.”
McDonald is not expected to play against France, but Jeremiah will be front and center in the stands at Parc des Princes today. You probably will be able to spot him by his jersey:
Also at stake for France today: its Olympic future.
That France’s World Cup dreams hinge on today’s result against the United States goes without saying. But its hopes of playing in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics are in play as well.
Europe’s soccer confederation, UEFA, does not hold an Olympic qualifying tournament — the only one of the confederations that doesn’t — and instead just takes the top three finishers in the World Cup for Europe’s three spots in the Olympic field. Six European teams are still alive (England is already through), and the winners of Saturday’s two quarterfinals are guaranteed a place in the semifinals, too.
So if France loses today, it won’t be going to Japan next summer, making a possible defeat doubly crushing. FIFA explains the rules here.
Megan Rapinoe vs. President Trump: distraction or motivation?
It was difficult to avoid this week’s Megan Rapinoe-Donald Trump contretemps, but if you somehow missed it, here’s a Reader’s Digest summary:
At a photo shoot in January, Rapinoe told a writer that “we’re not going to the White House” after the World Cup (Times decorum requires me to drop the expletive she added before White House). The clip was posted online this week, and came to the attention of President Trump. On Wednesday, he directed a three-tweet blast at Rapinoe in which he chastised her for her refusal to go to the White House but warned her that she “should never disrespect our Country, the White House, or our Flag.” (Rapinoe, who briefly knelt for the anthem in 2016, joining a social-justice protest led by the former N.F.L. player Colin Kaepernick, now stands silently when it is played before matches.)
On Thursday, at a news conference in which Rapinoe stood by her remarks, she was asked if she worried her statement about going to the White House and the response from President Trump might be a distraction on the eve of the biggest game in the tournament thus far. Rapinoe dismissed the premise; in fact, she suggested her statements might serve as motivation.
“I’m not worried about destabilizing the dressing room,” Rapinoe said. “We have an incredibly strong dressing room. We’re very open with each other; obviously everyone knows who I am.
“But I didn’t make the comments at a news conference here. They were made months ago, and are just kind of resurfacing. So I think if anything, it just fires everybody up a little more.”
United States Coach Jill Ellis stood by her player.
“The personality of our players — I won’t say that’s the norm, but it’s kind of part of the makeup of the players,” she said. “They’re elite people that live on a stage and are always probably under scrutiny. But I think this team has a remarkable focus. We all support Megan; she knows that. We know we have each other’s back in there.”
“I think for our players, there’s only one purpose, one mission that we’re here,” she added. “Comments, media, whatever — it’s always been something that we could block out pretty easily.”
France is facing the United States, but also its history.
France entered the World Cup, alongside the United States, as one of the favorites to lift the trophy in Lyon next weekend. But to do so it will have to overcome its history of underachieving in big events.
Unlike the United States, France’s women are not a traditional power in world soccer. The country did not qualify for the World Cup until 2003, promptly missed the next one in 2007, and has reached the semifinals only once, in 2011. Germany knocked the French out in the quarterfinals four years ago in Canada, the same stage at which the team exited the 2016 Olympics and the last three European championships.
“We mustn’t let the pressure get to us,” France’s coach, Corinne Diacre, said Thursday. “We have had these defeats in quarterfinals that have been haunting us for a while — that might be the case again tomorrow night; we don’t know that — but I think above all we need to focus on the match. We still have some things to prove.
“We know we haven’t been perfect since the start of the competition. We are aware of that. However, we will be close to perfection tomorrow night. That’s what we’ve been working on, that’s what we’ve been discussing at length with the players, that’s what we’ve been working toward.”
“Talk is cheap,” she added. “But we have to go out there and prove that tomorrow night.”
While France is home to the best club team in the world, which employs the core of the national team, the country has never won a major international trophy.
That lack of success has hovered over the team for more than a year, even as it posted strong results in friendlies. After France’s men’s team won the World Cup in Russia last summer, the expectations grew that the women should do the same on home soil.
“Of course it hurts, going out in the last World Cup in the quarterfinals,” said Henry, France’s captain. “But I don’t like to look backward. We want to move forward, and that’s what we’re going to do.
”We’ve got motivation — which is positive pressure, if you will — because we are up against the reigning champions, the best team in the world. We want to write our own chapter in the history of the women’s game.”
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