Group play is over. The first 36 games of the 2019 Women’s World Cup in France are done. From here on, after every game one team goes home. If you haven’t been watching, here’s some of what you’ve missed so far, and how to get in on the action and follow the local players in the next round.
These Portland Thorns? They’re pretty good: With the exception of backup US goalkeeper Adrianna Franch, every Thorn and former Thorn in the Cup has seen playing time so far, and all are on teams that advanced to the knockout rounds. Current Thorns stars Lindsey Horan (who also notched a goal against Thailand) and Tobin Heath scored the US’s two goals in its win over Sweden. (Heath’s rocket was officially recorded as an own goal on a Swedish defender, but even from 5,000 miles away in Portland we could see it was all Heath.) Caitlin Foord put Australia on the board in its dramatic comeback against Brazil, while Canadian captain Christine Sinclair took one step closer to surpassing Abby Wambach as the player, man or woman, with the most international goals. (Wambach retired with 184. Sinclair scored her 182nd against the Netherlands on June 20.) Among former Portland players, Amandine Henry netted one for France in its opener June 7, Jodie Taylor’s goal won it for England over Argentina, and Alex Morgan’s five goals in the US rout of Thailand tied for the single-game Women’s World Cup record.
VAR controversy: While many appreciate the “video assistant referee” when it comes double-checking offside close calls, fouls and handballs out of view of the human referees, and the exact ball position with respect to the goal line, the VAR-induced yellow cards given to three goalies so far for coming off their line before a penalty kick have been controversial. This particular use of VAR is new in this tournament, and goalkeepers around the world have criticized the awarding of penalties they say would probably never have been called by a human ref. Two of the calls, which resulted in a blocked or missed penalty kick being retaken, changed the outcome of the game, taking a tie from Nigeria and a win from Scotland, a team that otherwise might have advanced to the knockout round in its first World Cup appearance.
Marta > Klose: With her converted penalty kick in Brazil’s win over Italy on June 18, Marta notched her 17th World Cup goal, claiming the record from retired German star Miroslav Klose. (Marta’s fellow Brazilian legend Pelé netted 12.) But what did Twitter freak out about? The makeup on her usually unadorned face. She must have known the day would be a special occasion, but now everyone wonders what brand of lipstick it was that lasted through 90 minutes of sweaty battle.
“Le Marseillaise”: Maybe I just watched Casablanca as a kid too many times, but a stadium full of people singing the French national anthem lends the same satisfying frisson I imagine is felt when punching a Nazi (even just figuratively, with music) while Ingrid Bergman looks on approvingly. Aux armes, citoyens!
Coming up for Thorns in the World Cup:
Ellie Carpenter, Caitlin Foord, and Hayley Raso are done after Norway beat Australia June 22 in a penalty shootout following a 1–1 tie.
Andressinha is out after former Thorn Amandine Henry scored the winning goal for France over Brazil in overtime June 23.
Christine Sinclair is out after Sweden defeated Canada on June 24.
Former Thorn and French captain Amandine Henry is out after the US defeated the host nation in a quarterfinal on June 28.
Thorn vs. Thorn? Now that they’ve made it past Henry and France, the US is set to meet former Thorn (and Oregon State alum) Jodie Taylor in a July 2 semifinal with England.
Editor’s note: This post will continue to be updated as the knockout stage progresses.