When the final whistle sounded on an exhilarating and exhausting 2-1 win over France in the Women’s World Cup quarterfinals, 11 of the 12 players on the United States bench raced onto the field Friday to celebrate with teammates.
Megan Rapinoe didn’t move.
“I was very tired,” she explained. “I was very stressed.”
With reason. Rapinoe has spent the last two days in the Twitter crosshairs of President Trump over a six-month-old videotape, released last week, in which she said she wouldn’t go to the White House if invited after the World Cup.
Never mind that some teammates said the same thing. The rest of the team closed ranks behind her. The result was a two-goal night from Rapinoe and a gutty, gritty effort by the rest of a U.S. team known more for its star power than its willpower.
“We have such a tight group,” Rapinoe said. “It’s obviously a cliche to say it. Everybody wants to have that.
“But we really do have a group that really does just want to win.”
Added defender Becky Sauerbrunn: “In a World Cup, you need to be able to win pretty and win dirty. And sometimes you just have to put in a hard shift.
“Tonight was one of those nights where you put in a hard shift.”
And it was enough to earn a date in the semifinals with England on Tuesday in Lyon. It also extended the Americans’ winning streak in Women’s World Cup play to 10 games, dating to 2015, and their unbeaten streak to 15, dating to 2011. No team has done better.
Rapinoe’s first goal came in the fifth minute on a free kick through traffic and the second an hour later when Rapinoe, trailing the play, scooped up a pass that had evaded Samantha Mewis in the center of the box and blasted the loose ball into the lower-left corner.
But the win, that came from a far deeper source.
“We play with a lot of heart and a lot of guts,” defender Kelley O’Hara said. “We can be blue collar if we need to be. Trust me.”
A fearless back line defined the night perhaps even more than Rapinoe did. In the 63rd minute, O’Hara stepped in front of point-blank shot from France’s Amel Majri, taking the ball in the chest and then collapsing to the turf. A minute later Julie Ertz crashed into a French player while contesting a header and went down as well.
The U.S. might have started the game wearing uniforms with blue and red trim but finished wearing black-and-blue bruises.
“To me a big tackle is as important and kind of brings energy [of] a great goal. Because that’s not easy and you’re putting your body on the line. It’s necessary and it’s important,” said goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher, who made four saves and was prevented from having to make at least that many more by her scrappy defenders.
“You see the same sliding from the first minute to the 90th minute. That’s a testament to their heart, their energy, their passion and their willingness to put whatever they have to on the line to win the game.”
And the U.S. needed every ounce of that determination. Playing before a hometown crowd of 45,595, the largest of this World Cup, the French outshot the U.S. 20-10 and had the ball 60% of the time. The U.S. had dominated both statistics in its first four games.
“The surge of momentum from the fans, at times it was a tsunami,” U.S. coach Jill Ellis said.
So after the taking the 2-0 lead on Rapinoe’s two goals — she had two in the U.S.’s 2-1 win over Spain as well — Ellis dropped Ertz from the midfield into defense, giving the U.S. a back five.
“I’ve never seen the U.S. do that before,” French coach Corinne Diacre said. “Once again the Americans showed that matches come down to small details.”
And maybe a little luck, considering what appeared to be a hand ball by O’Hara in the final minutes failing to merit a second look from Ukrainian referee Kateryna Monzul.
“We can debate this call all night long,” Diacre said. “But what point would there be in that?”
France did get on the scoreboard in the 81st minute on a driving header by defender Wendie Renard, who sliced between Ertz and Mewis to halve the deficit. But that’s where the scoring ended, and at the final whistle Rapinoe — who came off in the 87th minute — wasn’t the only American too spent to celebrate.
“I’ve been very fortunate to be in some pretty amazing, amazing games,” added Sauerbrunn. “But I’ll put this top 10.”
Ellis went one better.
“That is the most intense match I’ve ever been a part of,” she said.
And the tournament isn’t over.
“As much as we were celebrating this win, I just reminded them we’re just getting warmed up,” Ellis said of her postgame talk with the team. “We’re on a mission.
“You’ve got to let players enjoy this moment tonight because I think that was a gritty win for us. We’ll let them sleep and then back together tomorrow.”
France pulls to within one
France isn’t done yet. Wendie Renard, the player the U.S. most feared, makes it 2-1 on the play the U.S. most feared: a set piece.
Midfielder Gaetane Thiney bent a long free kick toward the six-yard box that Renard, splitting between U.S. midfielders Sam Mewis and Julie Ertz, ran on to. Keeper Alyssa Naeher had no chance at her diving header in the 81st minute.
The crowd of 45,595 is revealing itself as heavily pro-French now with a cheer of “USA! USA!” quickly shouted down.
Kevin Baxter | 1:40 p.m.
Tobin Heath thought she made it 3-0 in the 75th minute but the goal is disallowed by an offside call.
With 15 minutes left in regulation time the score is Megan Rapinoe 2, France 0 in this Women’s World Cup quarterfinal.
The attendance at Parc des Princes was just announced at 45,595. It’s the largest crowd of the tournament, one person more than the U.S. drew for a group-stage game with Chile at the same stadium.
Kevin Baxter | 1:35 p.m.
Megan Rapinoe gives U.S. a 2-0 lead
Megan Rapinoe scores again in the 65th minute, giving the U.S a 2-0 lead in its Women’s World Cup quarterfinal with France.
Tobin Heath was launched up the right side on a breakaway and sent a low centering pass into the box for Sam Mewis. The ball was behind the U.S. midfielder but it went straight to Rapinoe, trailing the play unmarked on the left wing. With French keeper Sarah Bouhaddi tangled up with a defender, Rapinoe had an open net to shoot at.
Kevin Baxter | 1:25 p.m.
The U.S., leading 1-0 on a Megan Rapinoe goal in the fifth minute, came on strong to start the second half with Sam Mewis, Tobin Heath and Alex Morgan — who stayed on the field — both taking shots in the opening minute.
France took over shortly after that, but its most dangerous chances died in the U.S. defense, which has been spectacular. Julie Ertz made a big tackle to break up one attack and a dangerous corner kick was headed over the crossbar by French forward Eugenie Le Sommer.
The U.S., unbeaten at this World Cup, leads the tournament in time of possession but France is comfortably in control here, 56% to 44%. France is particularly dangerous on corner kicks with 6-foot-1 defender Wendie Renard, the tallest player in the tournament. But the U.S. has done a good job neutralizing her.
Kevin Baxter | 1:15 p.m.
U.S. forward Megan Rapinoe challenges France goalkeeper Sarah Bouhaddi for the ball during a Women’s World Cup quarterfinal match in Paris on June 28.(Elsa Garrison / Getty Images)
U.S. forward Megan Rapinoe, center, battles with France’s Marion Torrent, left, and Kadidiatou Diani during a Women’s World Cup quarterfinal match in Paris on June 28.(Michel Euler / Associated Press)
France midfielder Gaetane Thiney, left, battles U.S. midfielder Sam Mewis for the ball during a Women’s World Cup quarterfinal match in Paris on June 28.(Franck Fife / Getty Images)
France’s Valerie Gauvin, left, and U.S. midfielder Abby Dahlkemper try to control the ball during a Women’s World Cup quarterfinal match in Paris on June 28.(Ian Langsdon / EPA)
U.S. forward Tobin Heath shoots on goal during a Women’s World Cup quarterfinal match in Paris on June 28.(Francisco Seco / Associated Press)
U.S. midfielder Rose Lavelle, center, controls the ball ahead of France’s Wendie Renard, left, and Elise Bussaglia during a Women’s World Cup quarterfinal match in Paris on June 28.(Ian Langsdon / EPA)
France goalkeeper Sarah Bouhaddi stops the ball during a Women’s World Cup quarterfinal match against the United States in Paris on June 28.(Alessandra Tarantino / Associated Press)
U.S. forward Megan Rapinoe celebrates with her teammates after scoring against France during a Women’s World Cup quarterfinal match in Paris on June 28.(Franck Fife / AFP / Getty Images)
France goalkeeper Sarah Bouhaddi gives up a goal on a free kick by U.S. forward Megan Rapinoe (not pictured) during the opening minutes of a Women’s World Cup quarterfinal match in Paris on June 28.(Ian Langsdon/ EPA)
A shot by U.S. forward Megan Rapinoe (not pictured) goes into France’s net during the opening minutes of a Women’s World Cup quarterfinal match in Paris on June 28.(Franck Fife / Getty Images)
U.S. forward Megan Rapinoe celebrates after scoring against France during a Women’s World Cup quarterfinal match in Paris on June 28.(Franck Fife / Getty Images)
U.S. players celebrate a goal by forward Megan Rapinoe against France during a Women’s World Cup quarterfinal match in Paris on June 28.(Ian Langsdon / EPA)
U.S. forward Megan Rapinoe, second left, celebrates with her teammates after scoring a goal against France during a Women’s World Cup quarterfinal match in Paris on June 28.(Ian Langsdon / EPA)
U.S. forward Megan Rapinoe, left, celebrates with teammate Alex Morgan after scoring against France during a Women’s World Cup quarterfinal match in Paris on June 28.(Franck Fife / Getty Images)
U.S. fans show their support before the start of the United States’ Women’s World Cup quarterfinal match against France in Paris on June 28.(Lionel Bonaventure / AFP/Getty Images)
France goalkeeper Sarah Bouhaddi, right, clears the ball away from U.S. forward Megan Rapinoe during a Women’s World Cup quarterfinal match in Paris on June 28.(Alessandra Tarantino / Associated Press)
France’s Valerie Gauvin, left, controls the ball in front of U.S. defender Becky Sauerbrunn during a Women’s World Cup quarterfinal match in Paris on June 28.(Francisco Seco / Associated Press)
U.S. goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher makes a save against France during a Women’s World Cup quarterfinal match in Paris on June 28.(Francois Mori / Associated Press)
U.S. forward Megan Rapinoe, center, celebrates with teammate Samantha Mewis after scoring her second goal of the game against France during a Women’s World Cup quarterfinal match in Paris on June 28.(Alessandra Tarantino / Associated Press)
U.S. forward Megan Rapinoe celebrates after scoring her second goal of the game against France during a Women’s World Cup quarterfinal match in Paris on June 28.(Francisco Seco / Associated Press)
A French supporter is seen behind a U.S. flag before the United States’ Women’s World Cup quarterfinal against France in Paris on June 28.(Lionel Bonaventure / AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. forward Megan Rapinoe, left, battles France’s Amandine Henry for the ball during a Women’s World Cup quarterfinal match in Paris on June 28.(Francisco Seco / Associated Press)
U.S. goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher, left, tries to keep the ball away from the goal while battling France’s Wendie Renard during a Women’s World Cup quarterfinal match in Paris on June 28.(Christophe Petit Tesson / EPA)
France defender Wendie Renard celebrates after scoring during the second half of a 2-1 loss to the United States during the Women’s World Cup quarterfinals in Paris on June 28.(Franck Fife / Getty Images)
France’s Charlotte Bilbault, left, and Marion Torrent react after falling to the United States, 2-1, in the Women’s World Cup quarterfinals on June 28.(Michel Euler / Associated Press)
U.S. players celebrate following their 2-1 victory over France in the Women’s World Cup in Paris on June 28.(Elsa Garrison / Getty Images)
U.S. leads 1-0 at halftime
The U.S. goes into the half leading its Women’s World Cup quarterfinal with France 1-0 on a free-kick goal from Megan Rapinoe in the fifth minute.
But it also goes into the intermission with concerns about Alex Morgan, who has finished just one game in this tournament and appeared to take a knock midway through the opening 45 minutes. She sat on the field during the hydration break and was attended to by trainers but stayed in the game.
She was sure get a good look from the doctors at halftime.
The French have swung the possession battle in their favor; the shots are equal at 5-5. But the French have put none of those tries on target while the U.S. have put three on frame.
The U.S. technical area has remained empty for most of the first half, with coach Jill Ellis and her assistants staying on the bench.
But French manager Corinne Diacre has stood alone, mostly quiet with her arms folded across her chest or with her hands clasped behind her back, in the center of the coach’s box in front of the French dugout.
The physical play continued with U.S. midfielder Kelley O’Hara blindsiding Amel Majri in the 39th minute when the French defender turned to head upfield.
Tobin Heath for the most part has been invisible in the U.S. attack, which has gone up the left side behind Rapinoe and Morgan.
Kevin Baxter | 12:45 p.m.
Injury scare for Alex Morgan
In the 30th minute, U.S. captain Alex Morgan looks to be in some distress. She hasn’t played a full game since the opener, when she scored five goals and had three assists in a 13-0 win over Thailand. She then sat out the second game, came out with an injury at halftime in the group-stage final and exited after 85 physical minutes in the round-of-16 game.
After being attended to on the field during a hydration break, Morgan dashed back on the field. We’ll see how long she can go.
It’s getting physical now. Megan Rapinoe just got rough with France’s Kadidiatou Diani and French captain Amandine Henry threw a hard shoulder into Morgan.
U.S. leads 1-0 in the 33rd minute.
Kevin Baxter | 12:35 p.m.
Protecting the lead
The U.S., leading 1-0 after 25 minutes, has never trailed in this Women’s World Cup, scoring goals in the first five minutes in two of its five games. That includes Megan Rapinoe’s free-kick goal in this quarterfinal with France.
The U.S. back four, usually active in the attack, is staying home against France to protect the 1-0 lead. And so far it’s working: What shots France has gotten off have been blocked by center backs Abby Dahlkemper and Becky Sauerbrunn. Keeper Alyssa Naeher hasn’t had to make a save in the first 25 minutes.
The U.S. has a comfortable 55-45 edge in time of possession.
Kevin Baxter | 12:25 p.m.
Making things happen
U.S. leads 1-0 after 15 minutes. Megan Rapinoe not only scored the U.S. goal, but she also set up the play that made it happen. When the ball went out for a U.S. throw-in, Rapinoe motioned for the ball girl to give her the ball for a quick restart. She then threw in ahead for Alex Morgan, who was outrunning French defender Griedge Mbock Bathy toward the penalty area.
Griedge Mbock Bathy had no choice but to reach out and grab Morgan, who went down easily, resulting in a yellow card and free kick. French keeper Sarah Bouhaddi never saw Rapinoe’s low drive into traffic from the left wing, and the ball somehow got through a half-dozen players before hitting the side netting on the right side.
Bouhaddi has been called on to make two saves in the first 15 minutes, on Julie Ertz and Morgan. Neither was particularly challenging. France hasn’t tested Alyssa Naeher yet.
Kevin Baxter | 12:15 p.m.
Megan Rapinoe gives U.S. 1-0 lead
Goal Megan Rapinoe in the fifth minute!
French defender Griedge Mbock Bathy was given a yellow card for pulling down Alex Morgan on the edge of the box, setting up a free kick from the left wing. Rapinoe’s low drive into traffic just eluded teammate Julie Ertz and went through the legs of French midfielder Amandine Henry to give the U.S. the early lead.
Kevin Baxter | 12:05 p.m.
Here we go
And we are underway in Paris!
The top-ranked and unbeaten U.S. women’s national team is taking on No. 4 France in a Women’s World Cup quarterfinal.
The U.S. hasn’t lost a Women’s Cup game since 2011. They’ve lost just one game, period, in 23 months. That came to France, in France, in January.
The U.S. is wearing white uniforms with red and blue trim and blue numbers, the same kit it wore in the win over Spain in the round of 16. Goalie Alyssa Naeher is in all yellow.
The 12 U.S. subs came out before either team and stood side-by-side on the touchline, waiting for the anthems.
France is wearing dark blue tops with red and white numerals over blue shorts. Its keeper, Sarah Bouhaddi, is in all red. France’s substitutes remained in their dugout until the anthems before moving out to stand just in front of their bench.
The crowd was wayyyy louder for “La Marseillaise.” Before the opener, the crowd singing the anthem moved many French players to tears.
The temperature is 83 degrees at the 9 p.m. local kickoff. It is forecast to drop about 8 degrees during the game.
Kevin Baxter | noon
The largest attendance through the first 45 games of the Women’s World Cup was the pro-U.S. crowd of 45,594 that showed up at Parc des Princes for the Americans’ group-stage win over Chile. The second-largest was the pro-France crowd of 45,261 that showed up at Parc des Princes for the opener between France and South Korea.
Friday’s crowd will likely top both and early estimates, based on ticket distribution, is it will fall about 3 to 1 in favor of France.
France also leads in the number of government dignitaries expected. According to the early VIP list distributed by FIFA, the French will be represented by Édouard Philippe, the prime minister; by Roxana Maracineanu, the minister of sports; by Anne Hidalgo, the mayor of Paris; and by senator Céline Boulay-Esperonnier.
Former president Nicolas Sarkozy was also on the list.
The top-ranking U.S. government officials expected to attend were Andriy Koropecky of the U.S. embassy in Paris and Tamar Donovan from the U.S. embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia. U.S. ambassador Jamie McCourt, who attended the Chile game earlier this month, was not scheduled to attend Friday’s game.
Kevin Baxter | 11:35 a.m.
A slight surprise to the U.S. women’s national team’s lineup for its Women’s World Cup quarterfinal with France: Alyssa Naeher is back in goal behind a defensive four of Crystal Dunn, Becky Sauerbrunn, Abby Dahlkemper and Kelley O’Hara. The midfield, which will be key to the game today, is Rose Lavelle, Julie Ertz and Sam Mewis, while Tobin Heath, Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe are the forwards.
Morgan will wear the captain’s armband. The surprise is Mewis, who is in for Lindsey Horan. Mewis is two inches taller than Horan at 5-foot-11, and the U.S. will likely use Mewis and Julie Ertz, who is good in the air, to mark France’s Wendie Renard on set pieces. Renard is the tallest player in the tournament at 6-1.
France will start Sarah Bouhaddi in goal. Renard, Marion Torrent, Amel Majri and Griedge Mbock Bathy are the defenders. Elise Bussaglia, Gaetane Thiney and captain Amandine Henry are in the midfield with Kadidiatou Diani, Valerie Gauvin and Eugenie Le Sommer up front.
Six of the starters play their club soccer for Olympique Lyonnais, which is both a blessing and a curse, according to French coach Corinne Diacre. It’s a blessing because the players come to the national team with chemistry and a habit of success: Lyon has won the last four Champions League titles. But it’s also a curse because this year’s Champions League final was played May 18, meaning the players went straight from their lengthy club season into the national team training camp without a break.
Kickoff is scheduled for noon Pacific time. Check back here for live updates, score and analysis.
Kevin Baxter | 11:07 a.m.