US soccer: Women back in World Cup final as Rapinoe comes to the rescue, again
Megan Rapinoe, a hero in the dramatic US soccer win over Brazil Sunday, helped turn the momentum in a hard-fought 3-1 win over France in the World Cup semifinals.
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Her Hail Mary cross to save the US in the final minute of extra time against Brazil Sunday has already provided the tournament with perhaps its most indelible moment. Wednesday, in the semifinal game in Mönchengladbach, Germany, she went about the rather more mundane matter of destroying France.
When she entered the game in the 65th minute, the US had been second best for much of the afternoon. During the first 20 minutes of the second half, in particular, France was irresistible, pinning the US women deep in their own end, pass after pass pulling them apart like a hand-me-down sweater.
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It was survival soccer, and the US was grateful simply to be tied.
Twenty-five minutes later, however, the US was celebrating a 3-1 win that seemingly would have grown only more emphatic the longer the game went on. The US will face Japan, who beat Sweden 3-1 in the other Wednesday game, in the final Sunday.
Rapinoe was the architect of the last goal, nearly responsible for another with virtually her first touch of the game, and generally appeared to wake her teammates from a 65-minute slumber – repeatedly lulled into a losing game of keep-away by the hypnotic passing of France’s Louisa Necib and Camille Abily.
For the ponderous Americans, Rapinoe was Red Bull in shin pads.
Her first significant action of the game was to do her best impression of a pit bull, snapping at the heels of French midfielders who previously had been allowed to saunter around the park at their leisure.
Her second was to nearly scorch a hole through French keeper Bérangère Sapowicz with a free kick that lacked only a sonic boom.
It was as though, with her platinum-haired impudence, she was reminding her teammates, “Hey, we are the United States!”