Rose Lavelle, Midfield
Lavelle sprinted straight toward goal between two defenders and unleashed a scorching low, lefty kick past Dutch goaltender Sari van Veenendaal to give the U.S. a 2-0 lead in the World Cup final against the Netherlands.
That goal, her third of the tournament, was how Lavelle capped off a tremendous World Cup performance. The midfielder was a consistent, driving force and played a huge part in the U.S. maintaining a majority of the possession in each contest. She was clearly one of the best players on the pitch every time she stepped on the pitch. Lavelle was questionable for the final after exiting the semifinals against England with a hamstring injury, but there was no way she wasn’t going to play in the biggest game of her young career.
Only 24, she has the talent and desire to be one of the best players in the world for years to come and proved that in France.
Lavelle showed off a brilliant move – one she uses often – early in the semifinal against England where she passes the ball to herself through a defender’s legs. That move created an excellent scoring chance against England.
She showed quick feet and incredible composure especially for playing in her first World Cup. Her great vision and ability to move the ball gives the midfield the playmaker coach Ellis is looking for from the position – think Manchester City’s Keven De Bruyne.
Megan Rapinoe, Forward
Rapinoe, the face of the United States World Cup team in France, didn’t shy away from controversy off the pitch and dominated play on the pitch. In the championship game against the Netherlands, Rapinoe scored her sixth goal of the tournament on a penalty shot in the 61st minute to help lead her side to a 2-0 win.
Rapinoe was recognized as the tournament’s best player, winning both the Golden Boot and the Golden Ball for her efforts on the pitch. In five games played, she finished with six goals and two assists. She capitalized on all three penalty shots she took, approaching each one with the same intensity and poise one would expect from a team leader and soccer legend.
Rapinoe was the rock of the USA team who didn’t back down when asked the hard questions or when raising important subjects such as equal pay for women.
She proved on the field that at 34 years of age she is still one of the best and fit soccer players on the planet. She became the first woman to start three consecutive World Cup finals and would anyone be surprised to see her on the roster at age 40?
But that’s a long way away.
The 2020 Olympics are right around the corner and the U.S. has some unfinished business in that event. Don’t be surprised if Rapinoe is the face of that redemption process as this group of players tries to add a little gold to their back-to-back world cups.
Christen Press, Forward
With Megan Rapinoe out of the semifinal match with England, Press stepped up in a huge way by delivering an early goal to set the tone for the match. Her sweet header to the near post put the U.S. ahead 1-0. It was her first goal of this World Cup and 49th of her brilliant career.
Press also helped set up the American’s second goal in the game with England.
The left winger started all seven games for the U.S. and finished with one goal and one assist but it was her performance against England that will be on her highlight reel forever.
A center striker throughout her career, Press was moved to the wing on the U.S. team. Her versatility, experience and success as a super sub earned her a spot on this very competitive roster and she excelled in a starting role.
She was Stanford’s all-time leading scorer with 71 goals during her four-year career and her U-14 club team, Slammers FC, never lost a game and she earned MVP honors in every tournament they played.
Now 30 years old, Press is in her prime and should be around for both the Olympics in 2020 and even the next World Cup if she stays fit and interested in still competing at such a high level.
What other players stood out for the USA?
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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