USA vs Spain – Women footballing giants clash in Round of 16. USA defeat Spain to head to the quarterfinals. The Spaniards set home.
You know how the saying goes: if you want to be the best, you have to beat the best. Sure I want to see USA win another WC, but I don’t want an easy path to get there. I want to see our women play whoever is the best teams out there. I want to beat the best.
When the USA vs Spain draw was announced, I was happy and immediately thought back to the old saying about having to beat the best if you want to be the best. After the lack of difficulty the group stage presented, I wanted stiff competition next. I figured either England, France or Spain would be the hardest foes to defeat, so that’s who I wanted. And we got just that.
So in this women’s footballing clash, who will reign supreme?
The first minute of the game displayed Spain’s calling-card: engaging in the Spaniard’s style of quick passing and high-tempo attack. The US needed a few minutes to get settled into the match. A few touches later and nerves started calming for the Americans.
Like every match in the group stage before, the US was able to score in the opening minutes. This time after a clear penalty call in the fifth minute. Rapinoe stepped up to the spot, sending the keeper the wrong way, and buried the shot in the bottom left corner.
However, Spain is not Thailand, Chile or Sweden, and unlike the group stage competition, Spain answered back quickly. Five minutes after the first goal, Spain pressed USA and was able to force a sloppy turnover by the centerback, leading directly to a Spanish goal: 1-1.
As the half wore on it was pretty clear that neither team were likely to score again before halftime. At every turn, the US held the ball for too long, taking too many touches. This slowed the game down and helped Spain stave off the American’s attack. Although the Spaniards were starved for possession, they were dangerous every time they had the ball. Quick one-touch passes untied the US’s defense with ease.
The last 20 minutes of the half were very frustrating, and I was glad to see both teams head into the locker room at the whistle.
When the two sides came back out, it became apparent that the Spaniards had spent some of their halftime talk conceiving of a plan involving heavily fouling a few key American players—namely Alex Morgan.
Not even 5 minutes into the second half and the Spaniards had already fouled Morgan several times, resulting in putting her on the ground and a yellow card going to them. More studs-up challenges, fouls in the back, consistent infringement, pulling on kits to slow the Americans down. They tried every dirty trick in the book. It was all apparent and pathetic.
All the fouls, the warnings, and yellow cards did nothing to deter Spain from recklessly fouling USA over and over again, but in the 70’ all the sad pathetic fouling finally caught up with them when Rose Lavelle gets hit in the leg with a high-stud challenge, earning another PK. It was once again Rapinoe who finally stepped up to the spot after a lengthy VAR check. She chose the same spot as the first half—bottom left corner—but this time the keeper chose the correct direction. It was for naught though, as Rapinoe put so much pace on the ball it was in the back of the net before the keeper could even get to the correct side.
This was the final killing blow.
Thoughts Ahead of Friday
It's easy to win when you’re playing well. The real question, the one that separates good teams from great ones, is can you win when you don’t play well?
That’s exactly what USA did today. No one other than Rapinoe had a decent game, and even she wasn’t great in the run of play. Alex Morgan had a poor game, Tobin Heath didn’t do much,the midfielder were confused, and our backline was questionable at times, but none of it prevented the US from getting the win.
I was quite disappointed in the Spaniard’s dirty play. By the second half they had fully resulted to trying to foul and take out American players. Lots of stud-up tackles, late challenges, and just all-around poor sportsmanship. Spain deserves to be sent home. Good riddance.
Up next: France. This will surely be USA’s biggest challenge. Whoever wins this will be favorited to win the whole tournament in many fans’ eyes. Friday—don’t miss it. You know I’ll be there and back here afterword for my thoughts on the match.
See you then.