U.S. soccer set to battle England with World Cup finals on the line

The U.S. Women's National Team has the chance to reach its third-straight World Cup title game in today's matchup against England.

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U.S. soccer set to battle England with World Cup finals on the line

Alex Morgan of the USA celebrates following victory in the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup France Quarterfinal match between France and USA at Parc des Princes on June 28, 2019 in Paris, France. (Robert Cianflone/Getty Images/TNS)

Alex Morgan of the USA celebrates following victory in the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup France Quarterfinal match between France and USA at Parc des Princes on June 28, 2019 in Paris, France. (Robert Cianflone/Getty Images/TNS)

TNS

Alex Morgan of the USA celebrates following victory in the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup France Quarterfinal match between France and USA at Parc des Princes on June 28, 2019 in Paris, France. (Robert Cianflone/Getty Images/TNS)

TNS

TNS

Alex Morgan of the USA celebrates following victory in the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup France Quarterfinal match between France and USA at Parc des Princes on June 28, 2019 in Paris, France. (Robert Cianflone/Getty Images/TNS)

Pete Mills, Assistant Sports Editor

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It seemed as if the stars were aligned for French women’s soccer.

The French were on home turf in front of their fans, taking on the current Goliath in women’s soccer. But the U.S. Women’s National Team — with veterans, young talent, and positive contributions from across the field — was too much. On June 28, the Americans took down the French to reach their eighth-straight World Cup semifinal match.

Fittingly, American veteran and star Megan Rapinoe scored the 2 goals the team needed to take down the French, 2-1. In what was considered by many to be the main test of the tournament for the U.S. women, the Americans took down the home team in a close match.

The American women have a target on their backs as the clear team to beat now. Even though it has always been one of the best in the world, the team hadn’t won the World Cup in 16 years until 2015.

The only thing keeping the American women from a third-straight finals appearance is an England national team that is on an emotional journey. The two squads will face off at 2 p.m. today at Parc Olympique Lyonnais in France.

Four years ago, the English team’s high hopes were cut short after Japan took it down in the World Cup semifinals in a tightly contested 2-1 loss. On June 19, England avenged the loss with a 2-0 against that same Japan squad in group play.

England has continued to get stronger, taking down Norway, 3-0, in the quarterfinals after grabbing the lead in the third minute and never relinquishing it.

The entire English team has been very strong thus far. But the difference has been forward Ellen White, who knocked back both goals in the rematch win over the assertive Japanese squad. She has also scored at least 1 goal in each of the last four contests.

However, White has not had to take on the U.S. defense yet. The most famous American players are the strongest on the offense, but the defense has posted remarkable numbers in this year’s World Cup.

The team has only given up 2 goals in its five matches, never giving up more than 1 in a game — largely because of the dominance of goalie Alyssa Naeher, who draws comparisons with former U.S. goalie Hope Solo. The defense also shut out the Swedish in group play — the same team that will play in the semifinals against the Netherlands on July 3.

Although England hasn’t given out 13-goal beatings, such as the one U.S. gave to Thailand, it has been dominant in its own way. The English also did not drop a match in group play, and they have actually given up fewer goals (1) than the U.S. so far.

It will be an interesting game for both teams. But it’s win or go home, and getting close doesn’t mean much in the history books.