Full Time: More penalty kicks!

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Weirdly, I’m going to miss Melbourne. I’m Emily Olsen, here with Meg Linehan and Steph Yang — welcome to Full Time!

And the Knockouts Keep Coming

England moves on, barely

This has been a great World Cup for exciting, technical and close soccer games. England and Nigeria’s matchup was exactly that and, like USWNT vs. Sweden, it went to penalty kicks where England prevailed.

While the Super Falcons fell short of becoming the first African nation to win a knockout game in Women’s World Cup history, they came close with multiple woodwork-hitting shots during the 120 minutes of open play. This crossbar hit from Uchenna Kanu was particularly notable.

England went through after a late red card to Lauren James, and a professional approach to taking their penalty kicks (which you can read all about here).

After the game, Nigerian defender Ashleigh Plumptre asserted that her team’s performance should help change the narrative about how they and other African football teams are described and discussed.

“I think everybody counted us out against England,” said Plumptre, who grew up just outside of Leicester and played for England’s youth team through U-17 level before switching to Nigeria. “And I’m telling you, after this game, I’m tired of people just saying that African teams are just strong, and they’re just fast, and count us out as being technical or tactical. Like we just pushed England to the very end. And I actually think that we had better chances than them.”

Kerr returns, Australia advances

Sam Kerr is back after being sidelined during the group stage with a calf injury. In front of a home crowd of 75,784 crowd at Stadium Australia, the Matildas’ superstar made her return in the 80th minute. Though she had an awkward fall during the host nation’s 2-0 win, Kerr mocked her tumble after the game, hopefully, a sign of something only embarrassing, not detrimental.

It was a blazing-fast counterattack that gave Australia the lead in the first half, with Mary Fowler setting up Caitlin Foord. And I can’t stop watching Melbourne’s reaction to Foord’s goal.

Again on the counter in the second half, Emily van Egmond set up Hayley Raso to double the lead for Australia. If you don’t know Raso’s story, we’ve got you covered:

  • Prior to the tournament, she had 70 appearances for her country playing in the 2019 World Cup and 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
  • She suffered a traumatic back fracture in 2018, with no guarantee she would walk again.
  • She scored in back-to-back games for the Matildas this World Cup.

Meg’s Corner

The rankings don’t matter anymore

One night after the U.S. women’s national team exited the tournament on penalties, England (Ranked No. 4 in the world) was pushed to the absolute brink in its match against Nigeria (ranked No. 40) in the round of 16.

This time England survived, just barely.

Nigeria was the better team and not only were they the better team in terms of play, but they had figured out how to not just defend England but break them down time and time again.

They were a team that, as Plumptre put in her postgame comments, was technical and tactical.

They performed at a super high level in this tournament and obviously, they’re going to regret the chances that they weren’t able to finish just like the U.S.

While some of these matches in the round of 16 have played out with the higher-ranked team advancing, the gap between all of these teams is closing to the point to where I think we can say that the rankings no longer matter.

It’s been an amazing World Cup. But moving forward, we should understand that this is a foundation that so many programs are going to be able to build from with the proper investment. Likewise, this is a foundation that programs who aren’t in this World Cup are going to be able to look at and say: that’s the model.

In Review

USWNT coach failed to get most out of players

After the USWNT’s exit from the tournament, the U.S. Soccer Federation said it will “conduct a review to identify areas of improvement and determine our next steps,” a standard protocol after every major tournament.

“As we look ahead, we embrace the hard work necessary to become champions again,” the statement read.

While part of that review must look at a fractured youth setup in the U.S., the issues that need addressing before the 2024 Olympics start with current head coach Vlatko Andonovski. Kim McCauley and Jeff Rueter broke down Andonovski’s performance.

“The elephant in the room here is Megan Rapinoe,” McCauley wrote. “Rapinoe’s a legend, but she was way off the pace, and her set-piece deliveries were extremely poor. Andonovski might argue that her leadership was required, but she got on the field more than Alyssa Thompson, despite being a less effective player at this point in her career. Putting her into games was a clear tactical error on Andonovski’s part.”

Another part of the U.S. issues came from a lack of quality shooting. I mean just look at this examination of the USWNT’s individual shots 100,000 times.

Coming up on Tuesday

Both round of 16 games can be seen in the U.S. on FS1.

  • Colombia vs. Jamaica (Hindmarsh, Adelaide; 8:30 p.m. local / 4 a.m. ET / 9 a.m. UK)
  • France vs. Morocco (Melbourne Rectangular; 6 p.m. local / 7 a.m. ET / 12 p.m. UK)

Morocco head coach Reynald Pedros has a history with the French program, and it’s not a totally positive one. Pedros missed a penalty for France’s men’s team as a player at Euro ‘96.

Colombia’s Linda Caicedo is a special player for a bunch of reasons, including this one: This is her third World Cup in a year.

Jamaica moved mountains to make this World Cup, and it did so once again to reach the knockout round.

Fun Time World Cup Trivia

Test your knowledge

If you don’t want the answer to yesterday’s question, stop scrolling now…

The only goalkeeper to save one of Megan Rapinoe’s penalty kicks is United States backup, Aubrey Kingsbury. It happened in a game between OL Reign and Washington Spirit on June 16, 2018.

“I feel like that was so long ago,” Kingsbury told The Athletic. “I remember vaguely that it was not a great penalty. Pinoe can go anywhere, lower left, lower right, upper left, upper right, down the middle. You’re seeing that penalty takers, they don’t just have their preferred side anymore.”

Today’s question…

When was the last time an England player was sent off in a World Cup? And who was it?

(Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images)

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