Women's World Cup down to the Final Four
Okay, I really didn't want to come off as too chauvinistic here, but, wow, what a great pair of games and a great pair of wins for the U.S. women in the WWC quarterfinals and semis – by identical 2-1 scorelines over probably the second- and third-best teams in the world. But while the scorelines may have been identical, the games were quite different: Host France seemed to control most of the play – with more shots and possession – but rarely put the American defenders in real difficulty. But on Tuesday against England, the roles were reversed, with the U.S. controlling play most of the way but looking decidedly fragile in the back, as the superb English striker Ellen White split the central defenders repeatedly, scoring one goal, netting a second that was called back for the narrowest of offside calls, and creating an 84th-minute penalty that was saved dramatically by oft-maligned U.S. goalie Alyssa Naeher. That's something coach Jill Ellis will have to figure out before Sunday's final.
That'll be against either Sweden or the Netherlands, who meet in the other semifinal today at 2pm. That game's pretty much a toss-up, but (though they wouldn't admit it) I'm sure the U.S. would rather face the Euro-champion Dutch than defend-and-counterattack Sweden, who's had the Americans' number recently, most notably in the last Olympics when they knocked us out in a PK shoot-out that so frustrated U.S. keeper Hope Solo that it effectively ended her career. Hard-luck England, meanwhile – bitten once again by the PK bug, albeit in a new and different way – is relegated to the third-place game for the second time in a row.
The Remaining Schedule
All times CDT; all games televised on Fox or FS1, and Telemundo.
Wed., July 3: Netherlands-Sweden Semifinal, 2pm
Sat., July 6: Third-Place Game, 10am
Sun., July 7: Championship Final, 10am
WWC Watch Parties: Your favorite soccer pub will doubtless be showing all the games, but here are a few special events:
• Haymaker will host American Outlaws and Austin Soccer Foundation for all U.S. matches, with merch raffles benefiting ASF. 2310 Manor Rd. www.haymakeraustin.com.
• Native Hostel will show every WWC, Copa América, and Gold Cup game, with Austin FC there for select matches; drink specials benefit local youth program Upper Ninety. 807 E. Fourth. www.nativehostels.com.
• Lady Birds of Austin Anthem and Easy Tiger host one last party for the Championship Final. Sun., July 7, 10am. Easy Tiger Linc, 6406 N. I-35 #1100. www.austinanthem.org.
And Menwhile ...
Both the Gold Cup in the U.S. and Copa América in Brazil are down to the final four as well, now on the same schedule as the WWC, with semifinals yesterday and today (July 2-3) and all three finals on Sunday, July 7: the WWC at 10am from the Lyon suburb of Décines-Charpieu, Copa América at 3pm from Rio de Janeiro, and the Gold Cup at 8pm in Chicago.
Gold Cup: After solid outings in the group stage, the U.S. reverted to its stagnant pretournament form in Sunday's 1-0 squeaker over Curaçao, who was better than you might expect but shouldn't have been able to outshoot and out-possess a supposed title contender. They'll have to be better against Jamaica tonight, and especially Mexico (assuming they win their own game against Haiti) in the final.
Copa América: The tournament didn't put its best foot forward in the quarterfinals, where three scoreless ties were decided in PK shoot-outs. Let's hope for better going forward.
CONCACAF Gold Cup
All times CDT; on FS1 and Telemundo.
Tue., July 2: Mexico-Haiti Semifinal, 9:30pm
Wed., July 3: USA-Jamaica Semifinal, 8:30pm
Sun., July 7: Championship Final, 8pm
All times CDT; on ESPN+ and Telemundo.
Tue., July 2: Brazil-Argentina Semifinal, 7:30pm
Wed., July 3: Chile-Peru Semifinal, 7:30pm
Sat., July 6: Third-Place Game, 2pm
Sun., July 7: Championship Final, 3pm