For the second summer in a row, it will not come home. Alyssa Naeher made sure of that.
After the United States overwhelmed England with a pair of first-half goals, the Americans ceded an increasing amount of possession to their opponents, which England took advantage of first with the game-tying goal in the 67th minute from Ellen White. The U.S. were far too conservative with a one-goal lead, and Jill Ellis’s reflexive wagon-circling should have cost them more dearly than it did. Cruelly for the English, referees checked VAR to see whether White was offside, and eventually took her goal off the board after seeing she was a few inches on the wrong side of the U.S.’s high line.
Shortly afterward, White drew a penalty right in front of goal when Becky Sauerbrunn clipped her shooting foot while she was winding up. Referees overturned the initial no-call with a replay review, Steph Houghton stepped up to the spot, and Alyssa Naeher stuffed that shit. Her penalty save was the first-ever non-shootout penalty save in U.S. World Cup history, and it couldn’t have come at a more crucial time.
Only minutes after Naeher snuffed out England’s best chance for a goal, Millie Bright jumped into Alex Morgan and informally ended England’s push for a second goal by earning herself her second yellow card of the game.
The victory was not without its flaws, as the U.S. didn’t try to go forward in any serious way after halftime. American hero Megan Rapinoe missed the game with a hamstring issue and Rose Lavelle had to be subbed off with a tweak of her own. Lavelle said she’ll be okay after the game, and thankfully, the U.S. will have an extra day to prepare for whichever team in the Netherlands-Sweden semifinal makes it through to Sunday’s final.
The entire English media is now cordially invited to wring their hands over Alex Morgan’s tea-sipping celebration, and if their team is lucky, perhaps they’ll get the chance to be arrogant in the third-place game. Hopefully they scouted hotels ahead of time!