It’s just like every action movie; no matter how many bad guys keep coming and no matter how good they are, the good guy will always win. They’ll pull off some ridiculously glorious fight and come off victorious, not caring that you spent two-thirds of the fight with your hands clasped together with anxiety sweat.
That’s the current state of the USWNT.
They came into this tournament as not only the front runner, but as close as you come to an obvious winner. They breezed their way through the group stage, winning pretty decisively. Until they matched up with Spain in the round of 16, they had yet to face any real competition. Their first knock out game was almost their last, with Spain pulling them apart from stem to stern and exposing real defensive problems. But like the champions they are, they managed to stave off all mortal danger and though beaten and bruised, come out the winner.
Facing France in the quarter-final was marketed as the final, with both teams evenly matched and poised to make history in more ways than one; France sending the Americans home fairly early in the World Cup; USA finally defeating the French and on their home soil for a clear shot to the final. With a handling of Les Bleues (to my dismay and tears), everything seems to be going according to plan for the Stars and Stripes to advance to the final and play for their fourth star and become back to back champs. Their last obstacle?
Her Majesty, the Lionesses of England.
England has come into this tournament with both hands swinging, taking on every opponent and showing them the current squad has what it takes to make their fans sing-scream “It’s Coming Home!”. The USA will no doubt be their toughest opponent. With yellow cards starting over, Lindsey Horan will likely be taking her place back in the starting line-up, it’s safe to say that a midfield boasting of Rose Lavelle, Sam Mewis and Lindsey Horan is definitely something to be feared. Julie Ertz and Carli Lloyd are both excellent super-subs to come off the bench to finish the job and I know a lot of fans break out into a cold sweat when Lloyd walks up to the fourth official. The offense is still lacking in my opinion, with Alex Morgan being relegated to being a punching bag instead of a traditional striker; however Megan Rapinoe is filling that role nicely, tying Morgan and England’s Ellen White with five goals of her own. The only real concern still to be had is the defense. Crystal Dunn is still being wasted as a left back, her speed being her only redemption when she inevitably lands herself in a sticky situation. England’s right side has been shredding teams left and right, so Kelley O’Hara and Abby Dalhkemper will BOTH need to be on their A game. O’Hara has been getting away with a lot since the group stage and how she hasn’t been red carded out of the tournament is an answer only the refs and the soccer gods can give.
All that being said, this is an American side that is the epitome of “Goonies never say die” and they will need every ounce of that to defeat this England side and bring home that fourth star.
Every movie ends with the good guy waltzing off into the sunset, cool as the other side of the pillow. The Americans have a real shot of keeping their happy ending on track, with only themselves to blame if this ends with the bad guys cackling in Paris.