Watching the Women’s World Cup 2019 in France was a Delight
In several ways it is like watching the Women’s World Hockey Championships. The two super powers are Canada and the USA with 637,000 and 567,000 registered hockey players respectively. While for soccer there are 867,000 registered women players in Canada and 1,763,000 in the USA. In Womens Hockey the world is catching up – especially from Europe but the USA and Canada are still top dogs.
In soccer, the whole world is fast closing in on the USA and Canada. In fact Canada despite have outstanding players like Christine Sinclair has only managed bronze medal performances in the Olympics and World Cup. In contrast, the US has 4 World Cup Championships under its belt but ..
The European teams are being sponsored by some of the very best football clubs like Juventus, Arsenal, Paris-St.Germain with not just great training facilities but also reasonably paid league play. And worldwide Australia, Brazil, Cameroons, Mexico, New Zealand and Nigeria are inching up in the standings. And Asian teams have stellar records as China played for the World Championship and Japan did so twice, winning it all in 2011.
But the real delight was to see the outstanding skills on display especially among the goaltenders and backline defenders. So here are 6 players that caught this Watcher’s eyes. during Women’s World Cup 2019.
Crystal Dunn – USWNT left defensive back – 27 years old, 5 feet 1 inch
Crystal just missed out on qualifying for the USWNT 2015 World Cup Team – in this video Crystal reveals how she coped with the disappointment – slowly recovering her confidence while playing for Washington Spirit in the NWSL where she scored 15 goals in 20 games.
In the 2019 Womens World Cup, Crystal despite her scoring prowess was moved from midfielder to left defensive back where she took on such opposing stars as Swedish duo of Sofia Jakobsson and Stina Blackstenius, then Spain’s talented Jennifer Hermoso followed by England’s potent duo of Jill Scott and Ellen White.
But the most challenging defensive face-off was Crystal versus very fast and talented French forward, Kadidiatou Diani. Between the two roadsters this was the game within the game as noted by several analysts – take a look here where Fox commentator Alexi Lalas noted Crystal “ produced an individual defensive masterpiece, all done under the microscope of the World watching and judging….. Crystal Dunn, on this night you were not just a good left back, you were a great left back.” Amen.
Nilla Fischer – Sweden fullback – 34 years old, 5 feet 9
Nilla has been a mainstay of the Swedish team since 2001 playing in 4 World Cups from 2007 to 2019 taking 2 bronze medals, 3 Summer Olympics taking the the Silver medal in 2016, 2UEFA Euro Championships, Algarve Cup player from 2007 to 2015 including winning in 2009. In addition Nilla has been a defensive mainstay for Malmo Sweden and now Wolfsburg Germany teams again winning league championships. Nilla is a defender with notable offensive skills.
Her fiery spirit on the field has seen her make great blocks, cut-outs, and tackles throughout the World Cup. Twice her goal line blocks prevented goals in the Knockout round. But her strong spirit is also reflected on the social scene where Nillla has campaigned oponly for Womens rights and LGBTQ causes in Sweden and Europe.
However, her authenticity is not without consequences . But this watcher remembers Nilla most for holding the fort against furious attack by English forwards in the final minutes of Sweden’s 2-1 victory in the World Cup third place game..
Jackie Groenen – Netherlands midfield -24 years old, 5 feet 5 inch
A former medal winning Judoka who switched to football joining the Dutch national team in 2014 and forming a great midfielder trio with Danielle Van De Donk and Sherida Spitse whose passing and set piece skills helped carry Netherlands to the Euro 2017 Championships.
Jackie has been compared to the great Spanish midfielder Andres Iniesta aka The Illusionist. Both have consummate dribbling, quick turning, and back-foot pass-off skills. But most important is the well placed and weighted passing that setup their forwards and strikers. The following video shows Jackie’s skills in abundance [but please excuse the wretched audio music clip]:
. As you watch the video you will see semblances of France’s Amandine Henry and her semifinal opponent, USA’s Rose Lavelle. Assists and players who could deliver them became important in Women’s Hockey about 20 years ago. The same is now happening in soccer with Jackie a great example.
Christiane Endler – Chile goalie — 27 years old, 5 feet 11 inches
In a World Cup that saw brilliant goal keeping from Lindahl of Sweden, Boumahdi of France, Telford of England and Van Veenendaal of Netherlands. – all of these goalies made outstanding saves during the World Cup with Van Veenendall winning the Golden Glove award as the World Cup’s best goalie.
However, Christiane has been an outstanding goalie playing for Paris St. Germaine. One could easily see her virtuosity in her many spectacular saves against the USA in the qualifying round. Her stops were athletic and breathtaking – so it is no surprise she won the Player of the Match award voted on by game viewers.
But equally impressive is the way Christiane is committed to fostering her favorite sport in her native Chile. Though she plays in Europe her heart is at home helping to grow football in Chile.
Aurora Galli – Italy midfielder -22 years old, 5 feet 3 inch
Aurora Galli and Lila Guiliani are part of the Juventus reinforcements that made Italy the surprise team of the World Cup Playoff round. First, they surprised Australia 2-1, then clobbered Jamaica 5-0 with one of the prettiest goals of the tourney scored by Aurora. She unleashed a 25-30 yarder that sailed into the upper left corner of the net.
But that was not the only Galli contribution. Aurora added two more goals and some fierce defense -particularly in the 2-0 defeat of China. In sum, with Galli on board Italy has aded offensive punch to to solid base with Barbara Bonansea, Cristiana Girelli, and Manuela Giuliano.
Rose Lavelle – USWNT Midfielder – 24 years old, 5 feet 4 inch
Lets start the story of Rose Lavelle budding USWNT midfielder with a soccer juggling demo by the 11-year old Rose.
Let follow with the analysis of soccer writer Sean Wagner-McGough at CBSSports who said: “Sports are almost always cruel … to the players who deserve glory, but get dealt an endless stream of heartbreak and a lifetime of what ifs. Soccer, where goals are blue moons, is an especially cruel sport…. Most players, even legends like Marta, don’t get to win a World Cup. Even fewer get to score a goal in a World Cup final.
But every so often, the planets and stars and moons align and the soccer gods give their blessing and what happens is what’s deserved….
It happened again in Lyon on Sunday. In the 69th minute of the USWNT’s 2-0 win over the Netherlands in the World Cup final, Rose Lavelle collected a central pass, darted forward into empty space, dribbled straight at the teeth of the Dutch defense, rolled her preferred left foot over the ball, cut to the left at the top of the box, and ripped a legend-making goal into the bottom corner with her left boot.
The best player at the 2019 Women’s World Cup effectively ended the 2019 Women’s World Cup with one of the best goals of the tournament.” Read in detail here how Rose Lavelle emerged as the new USWNT star player.
Don’t believe Sean or this World Cup Watcher, then check out this assessment by Ryan Neal. Ok, would you believe that Trumpian Source of Fake News, CNN??
Ok, that other bastion of Fake News, the NYTimes?
The 2019 World Cup featured outstanding performances from a wide range of players. However, some of the brightest stars like Netheralands Leke Maartens and Germany’s Dzsenifer Maroszan were hobbled by injuries. So shining at the World Cup is partly a matter of luck. But many of the top tier players like France’s Amandine Henry, Australia’s Sam Kerr, Brazil’s Marta and the American scoring champions Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe did not fail to shine brightly. However,for sheer excellence, these are six standouts that did exactly that throughout the World Cup.