Fuel Soccer Talk: U.S. victory over England a real tea party; Naeher saves the day – twice; U.S. men prepare for Jamaica

Starting off with some morning tea – Alex Morgan style!

World Cup: U.S. edges England 2-1 to advance to finals

LYON, France – Before a captivated audience of 53,512 fans at Stade de Lyon, the U.S. Women’s National Team battled past England, ranked No. 3 in the World, with a 2-1 triumph that secures the USA a record fifth appearance in a FIFA Women’s World Cup Final.

On her 30th birthday Alex Morgan tallied the game winner on a header in the 31st minute after Christen Press had opened the scoring, also with a header, in the 10th minute. The Americans got a victory-securing penalty kick stop from goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher late in the second half. It was the first-ever penalty kick save by a U.S. goalkeeper in the regulation time at a World Cup.

The USWNT will now contest the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup Final against the winner of Wednesday’s second semifinal between the Netherlands and Sweden, which kicks off at 3 p.m. ET from Stade de Lyon (FOX, Telemundo). Kickoff for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup Final at Stade de Lyon is set for 11 a.m. ET on Sunday, July 7, and the game will be broadcast on FOX and Telemundo.

U.S. head coach Jill Ellis made two changes to the starting XI from the side that beat France in the quarterfinal, bringing in Press up top for Megan Rapinoe (who had a hamstring strain) and restoring Lindsey Horan to the midfield in place of Samantha Mewis. The changes proved key as both players provided fresh legs, contributed to the scoresheet and also made an impact on the defensive side of the ball.

“I can’t even express how proud I am,” Ellis said after the match. “It was just such a great effort from everybody. We had some challenges in terms of bodies and everything, and everybody just stepped up. And that’s what this team’s about. So just incredibly proud of them.”

Worth Noting: The second goal by the U.S. was as good as it gets from a textbook standpoint. It started in the back with Abby Dahlkemper who lofted a perfect ball to the far side where Christen Press controlled it. Press pushed a short pass to Lindsey Horan who turned and sent a second-touch ball across the middle to Alex Morgan, who had a step on the defender and took full advantage of the advantage. She headed the ball near-side past the diving England keeper to make it 2-1. Dahlkemper has done an excellent job during the entire world cup starting plays from the back but that one tops the list – for now.


What was the difference between the two sides?

World Cup: Keeper Naeher comes up huge – TWICE – in win over England

Alyssa Naeher didn’t make one big save in the World Cup semifinal with England – she made two tremendous saves. The first one came in the first half shortly after her team took a 2-1 lead. She jumped and stretched and reached for the stars to knock away a brilliant chance by England.

The second came on a penalty kick with the U.S. clinging to that same 2-1 advantage with just 6 minutes left in the game. She guessed right – moving to her right – to stop the PK off the foot of England captain Stephanie Houghton.

Naeher, a veteran of the USA’s youth national teams, was the starting goalkeeper for the team that won the 2008 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup and has been the starting keeper in France every step of the way for Coach Jill Ellis. Naeher played youth club soccer with Yankee United (Conn.) from U-12 through U-15, then switched to South Central for U-16 to U-19 where she won a state title. She was a three-time NSCAA All-American at Penn State and currently plays for the Chicago Red Stars.

“I just said to [Naeher], ‘That was your shining moment.’ But we’ve got one more game,” Ellis said. “What a freakin’ stop. It was unbelievable.”

What impressed you the most about Naeher? 

Gold Cup: U.S. takes on Jamaica tonight in semifinal

CHICAGO – Coming off four matches in which the side has outscored opponents 12-0, the U.S. Men’s National Team takes on familiar foe Jamaica in the 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup Semifinal on Wednesday, July 3 at Nissan Stadium in Nashville. Coverage of USA-Jamaica begins at 9:30 p.m. ET on FS1, Univision, UDN and the Futbol de Primera Radio Networks. Fans can follow all the matches on the official U.S. Soccer app, as well as Facebook, Twitter (@USMNT) and Instagram (@USMNT) accounts.

Wednesday’s semifinal marks the third straight Concacaf Gold Cup where the USA will meet Jamaica in the Knockout Round. In 2015, the Reggae Boyz pulled off a 2-1 semifinal upset of the USA at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta to advance to their first Gold Cup Final. Two years later, they returned to the championship match but fell 2-1 as the USMNT raised its sixth confederation championship trophy on July 26, 2017 at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif.

The teams also met less than a month ago in a Gold Cup tune-up, with Shamar Nicholson’s strike from distance serving as the difference in Jamaica’s 1-0 victory on June 5 at Audi Field.

Sunday’s win against Curaçao set a new USMNT record for consecutive wins at the Concacaf Gold Cup with nine (July 12, 2017-June 30, 2019).


What are the keys for the U.S. side?


LET’S TALK: OK, now you’ve read what’s on my mind…what are your thoughts on the above or any other “football” happenings?

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