The U.S. women’s national team snuck past Spain 2-1 in the round of 16 at the World Cup on Monday in Reims, France, thanks to a pair of penalty kicks, to reach the quarterfinals.
Former goalie Hope Solo, however, isn’t giving the United States much credit for the win.
“The United States got lucky against Spain,” Solo wrote in The Guardian. “They didn’t score from open play and their second penalty was very soft — if it was a penalty at all.”
Team captain Megan Rapinoe scored both goals for the United States, each on controversial penalties. The second penalty in the 70th minute, which ended up deciding the game, triggered a lengthy VAR review after Rose Lavelle went down in the penalty box after minimal contact — and was by far the more controversial of the two.
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While Solo praised Rapinoe for converting both penalties, she was confused as to why Alex Morgan went to take the second penalty, but then backed off after the review.
“That showed she was off her game,” the longtime U.S. goalkeeper wrote. “Spain put her on the floor a few times early in the match and she didn’t overcome that. For her to be considered one of the best forwards she needs to step up and put that penalty away when she had the opportunity. Alex needs to score when it matters.”
Now, Solo made sure to credit Spain, too — a program she feels can actually win the World Cup in 2023. Their talent, she said, should not have shocked the United States one bit.
“Spain’s quality should not have been a surprise,” Solo wrote. “If you’d been properly prepared and watched their recent games — and then re-watched their games — you would know that this team was going to cause the U.S. trouble, and could beat them.
“Spain have a quality team, and Jorge Vilda is an excellent coach. He has demanded the team have fantastic fitness levels and even though they play possession-oriented soccer they know when to go direct.”
The win on Monday for the United States sets up a quarterfinal match against France in Paris — which has the potential to become the most expensive Women’s World Cup game ever.
While the Americans entered the tournament as favorites to repeat, France had the second-best odds to win, according to FiveThirtyEight. With France being the host nation, the matchup is likely to be even more exciting.
“What will add to Friday’s quarterfinal is that no one knows what to expect — from France or the U.S.,” Solo wrote. “The USA can’t prepare anything radical for France in just three days, so on Friday they will give us what they’ve got ... As the host nation, (France has) the weight of their country on their shoulders. We don’t yet know if that expectation is going to be an extra player for France — or the U.S.”
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