LYON, France – History tells us that the USA will win if they score in the semifinals of the World Cup in the semifinals on Tuesday against England without the player who is responsible for every US goal in the knockout stages.
And the story had nothing to say about VAR at all.
Without Megan Rapinoe – the star of the tournament This point and the emotional talisman that was missing with a thigh injury to England – the Americans found another pair of goals for the third game in a row. With a little help from VAR and their goalkeeper, they held their lives in a 2-1 win.
For the fifth time the USA play for the world title. And it has a chance to win titles for the first time in a row.
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Christen Press started for the second time in this tournament and introduced the US women to one of them. The team scored in the 10th minute more goals.
And after England equalized shortly after, Alex Morgan scored a goal in the 31st minute to bring the USA back into the lead. For the first time since a record breakout of five goals in the opening match, she scored in the race for the Golden Boot, the world championship record.
In a tournament that started scoring goals with a controversy about celebrating, and has become a stranger to it, it may be appropriate to explain a goal celebration as the way to the final on Sunday.
After Morgan scored the deciding goal, he mimicked drinking England's beloved tea. She said she feels responsible for making the celebrations with the ever-creative Rapinoe out of the mix interesting.
"I feel like this team just threw so much at us," Morgan said. "I have the feeling that we did not find the easy way to the final at this tournament."
Never easy. Not over yet.
The Americans are now waiting for the winner of the semi-final on Wednesday between the Netherlands and Sweden. The Dutch are the reigning European champions and another team of the continent on the rise. The United States defeated Sweden in the final group game, but this final recalled the 2016 Olympics when Sweden eliminated the US women in the quarter-finals.
VAR gave and Alyssa Naeher took  Alyssa Naeher saved a penalty in the 84th minute from Englishman Stephanie Houghton. The American led with 2: 1. JEAN-PHILIPPE KSIAZEK / AFP / Getty Images
The US-Americans had never missed two goals in seven previous World Cup semi-finals. They have not done it yet, but their brand has been literally saved by inches.
England's Ellen White seemed to tie a 2-2 draw in the middle of the second half with Englishman Jill Scott. The crowd roared, England celebrated and both teams took their positions around the midfield.
Then came the check. Repeats showed that White was the least offside. And as FIFA referee Zar Pierluigi Collina said last week at a VAR briefing in Paris, there is no "almost" offside. The check came back quickly: no goal.
But VAR was not done yet and White did not. After Demi Stokes had slipped behind the US outer line about 10 minutes before the start of the game and had struck a cross in front of the goal, White seemed to smell the ball when Becky Sauerbrunn had slipped behind her. But after a US submarine, the referee stopped the game for VAR again. The result was a penalty for England and a yellow card for Sauerbrunn.
"I thought it would be a 100% chance chance, I know I had to play ball," said Sauerbrunn. "I did not see the foul, but VAR thought it was a PK, so Alyssa had a chance and she came out big and saved the team."
England captain Steph Houghton converted the penalty, but Naeher quickly failed to save her right, which was a relatively minor penalty. So much for missing Hope Solo.
"Just try to get a good reading on it," Naeher said about her thought process. "Take a few deep breaths and focus on the ball and the game."
Naeher barely scored for England's goal in the first half when White almost missed a shot that went offside the post after slipping between US defenders. But with the prospect of extra time evolving when Houghton rearranges the PK – and the extra minutes for a team that had only a limited break in the tournament – Naeher has made a name for himself.
"We all had so much faith in her," said Rose Lavelle. "We see every day what she does in practice, and she saves our own punishment, to our disappointment."
No Rapinoe, no problem … for now
Rapinoe's omission looked like the story that would dominate the night. Instead, the line-up changes as Press and Lindsey Horan take over the field and their status remains as high as the thigh load they call minor.
For Press it is difficult to stand in the center of a heated controversy. She is too thoughtful, calm and generally thoughtful. Heated controversies have no oxygen to ignite. But press has been a mystery to fans for years. At club level so good, first in Sweden and now again in the NWSL, she never seemed to land on the right side of the depth map for the national team.
The press kicked off and scored a goal opening match of the 2015 tournament in their team's World Cup debut, but eventually dropped out of rotation on the way to a title. She missed the last penalty in the quarterfinals against Sweden at the Olympics. The press never seemed to get the break their talent deemed unavoidable.
She seemed to take that moment for granted.
"I think the proudest moments in my career were failures," the press said, failing them, and if they succeed, that sort of build up a stability, a calmness for me. The World Cup is crazy – it's intense, it's emotional. And for me that's not how I play well. 19659011] "So I've tried to create a consistency through that, I have to be ready to play 90 minutes, I have to be ready to not play at all, I have to be ready to play four minutes and finish a game Just never know what you're going to get, and you can not be influenced by any of these circumstances or what you can do, you have to be confident and believe in yourself. "
Her role at the gates was obviously crucial. First, she scored a rare header and then played a role in preparing for Morgan's goal. But their energy tracing the entire game was equally crucial Tuesday, Rapinoe has gotten a lot better on that score, but it's not their bread and butter.
"She has her spine stretched out," Morgan told Press. "She could play the nine roles too, so there were many." Sometimes we exchanged ourselves, sometimes of course during the game. We did not have to return to my usual position as a ninth and eleven. We just left the game like that.
"I think both they and Lindsey Horan stepped in and played their roles immensely."
Horan, who was a curious omission on the grid in the last two games, showed one of the reasons she was involved with the Pass is so valuable that Morgan finished for the second goal.
The entire sequence of the second gate was a bit of beauty, starting with Abby Dahlkemper's 45-yard cross-field pass to the press. But the last pass Horan almost seemed to put on Morgan's head was the masterpiece. It's the kind of passport the US women lost without Lauren Holiday having made it – and the sort of thing they've gotten back with Horan.
After the game, Rapinoe said, "I'm ready for the final."
England's defensive weaknesses remain open
Rose Lavelle will be in the nightmares of English players. Her ability to play in almost any position in midfield and in the top three positions means she is so unpredictable and hard to follow. Too often England played into the hands of the United States. When the Americans stretched their defense with long balls into the penalty area and played neatly on the flanks, England was sucked in and lost its form.
Carly Telford is a wonderful shot-stopper, but it looks like communication is sometimes one. In the first half, Telford and Houghton clashed as they tried to clear a flank while blaming US threats on their goals the first half left unmarked. In other games England occasionally looked vulnerable – but the US women let her pay.
England struggled to cope with Morgan in this deeper role, and his disappointments eventually defeated England when Millie Bright got a chance The second yellow card late for their duel against the US striker.
England had the chances, but lacked serenity.
The American women control the clock. It is in their winning nature. And England was frustrated in the closing stages.
But England had chances to prevail against the United States. White had a good chance, and then there was Houghton's penalty. And England had also ruled out the goal through VAR.
England had far more chances in the second half, but will regret a first 45, where it looked a bit surprised by the occasion at the opening exchanges. England's policy of playing from behind led England to camp for the stages in a separate half, and again, Plan B was missing.
Phil Neville's decision to play Nikita Parris in the middle also worked in the middle Not that England had no deadly landing despite Rachel Daly's brilliant spread. You simply have to transform those opportunities at this level.
The penalty continues
England missed four penalties and missed three at this World Cup. How long ago does it seem that Parris scored the first goal of England at this World Cup against Scotland?
Houghton, England's captain and one of the best players here in France, saw that their 83-minute penalty was well saved by Naeher. Neville said England had their best penalty of the match this week, even though they did not beat Argentina and Norway. Something is not quite right with the psychology of these penalties – the goalkeeper or guards are now doing so much that they surpass the attacker with dead balls, regardless of the VAR restrictions in these situations.
Who needs rest?
This was the third consecutive game in which US Americans played at least one day less than their opponent – and these were some of the best in Europe, not Thailand and Chile. On another warm night in Lyon, though not as fiercely as during the last heatwave, this would have taken the oldest team in the tournament. But there was Tobin Heath (31), who passed England's Demi Stokes at the start of the first half. There was Morgan, the day she celebrated her thirtieth birthday, took another long night of contact and got up each time to be present as a center forward or outside-winger (the same role she played during her time in the same stadium had played) Lyon).
Alex Morgan scored the game winner and moved up to the top of the Golden Boot rating: Muscle: pic.twitter.com/BUBEKhEMSq
– ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) July 2nd 2019
It's not the most glamorous thing to talk about in a team full of talent and personalities, but American fitness is again one of the main reasons why the United States has a chance to keep its title. The violation of Rapinoe is in part such news, as it represents the exception for the US women during this tournament. Fitness is first and foremost the work of the players and an indication of how much the competition for duty positions compels them to stay in top form. But save yourself a thought for Dawn Scott this evening. The US high performance coach is unknown to many, but US players swear by the work they do behind the scenes.
With a short break, this advantage came back on Tuesday.