Morgan Rapinoe (right) celebrates converting her penalty kick, with Alex Morgan (Michael Chow – USA TODAY Sports)
By Michael Lewis
LYON, France — The United States continued its world dominance in women’s soccer, defeating the Netherlands to capture their second consecutive Women’s World Cup title Sunday.
Goals by Megan Rapinoe and Rose Lavelle boosted the Americans to a 2-0 victory before a capacity crowd of 57,900 Le Stade de Lyon. They joined Germany as the only teams that won back-to-back crowns.
In fact, the Americans have won four of the eight contested world championships, also winning in 1991, 1999 and 2015.
The USA ran the table in the tournament, winning all seven matches and never trailing a second.
The Americans’ much-malgined backline conceded only three goals in the competition, one each in the knockout round — until final.
This match was nothing to write home about in the first half as the USA hampered itself with some sloppy passes at all ends of the field and questionable decisions. The Dutch had something to do with that as they marked the Americans tightly and stayed organized.
Head coach Jill Ellis was forced to use a sub at halftime after right back Kelley O’Hara was forced from the match with an apparent concussion.
Finally, in the second half, the USA got a break.
Megan Rapinoe converted a penalty kick in the 61st minute after it appeared referee Stephanie Frappart (France) was ready to waward the USA a penalty kick. However, Video Assistant Referee intervened after noticing that Dutch defender Stepanie Van Der Gragt had possibly fouled striker Morgan in the box. Van Der Gragt had kicked Morgan as the striker fell down in the area.
VAR awarded the Americans a penalty. Rapinoe rilfed a shot into the lower right side as goalkeeper Sari Van Veenendaal hardly moved on the play.
Needless to say, the goal opened up the game. Only eight minutes later, midfielder Rose Lavelle, on a brilliant run through the middle of the park, split Anouk Dekker and Van Der Gragt to power a shot just outside the penalty area into the lower right corner to double the lead.