Spirit at the World Cup: Group Stage Round-Up

Washington Spirit  |   June 22, 2019
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By Owen Krucoff and Jordan Viener

Boyds, Md., (6/22/19) – For the past two weeks, the women’s soccer universe has centered on France as the best teams and players in the world face off at the FIFA Women’s World Cup. With the group stage completed, 16 teams are left standing in the battle to become world champions. Four of the five Spirit players who journeyed to France remain in the hunt.

Here is an overview of how all five performed in group play and where their nations stand entering the stretch run of the tournament.

United States of America

How they fared in the group stage

The US was expected to have a strong showing at the World Cup and were favorites to win Group F, and they easily did. Over the course of three games, the US played near-perfect games, scoring often and shutting out their competition. The US finished the group stages with a +18 goal differential, outscoring their opponents by a score of 18-0, one of the widest goal differentials in World Cup history. After defeating Thailand by a record-breaking score of 13-0, the US would go on to beat Chile 3-0, and finally get revenge for the 2016 Olympic early exit topping Sweden 2-0.

Knockout round outlook

Earning the number one spot out of Group F matches the Stars and Stripes with Group B runner up Spain in Reims. Spain placed behind powerhouse Germany, and tied with China in terms of points during the group stage (four), but La Roja placed 2nd due to their +1 goal differential. Scoring has been an issue so far for the Spanish. They only scored three goals in the group stage, all three in their first game against South Africa (who didn’t earn a point this World Cup). Another glaring weakness for La Roja is lack of World Cup experience. The team doesn’t have a single player over 30 years old. This is also the first ever knockout round for the women’s national team, they could get easily swept up in the joy of this achievement. The winner of this match will face the winner of Brazil and France.

Mallory Pugh

Forward Mallory Pugh has been a key role player for the U.S., netting her first World Cup goal and making her first World Cup start. Pugh subbed in to the right wing during the 68th minute against Thailand, and she would stay on the wing for the full 90 against Chile. Pugh made her final appearance of the group stage against Sweden as she took over in the 83rd minute for Megan Rapione. Expect Pugh to continue to be used as an impact sub as the U.S. continues its march.

Rose Lavelle

Also making her World Cup debut, midfielder Rose Lavelle has started two games for the U.S. So far, the Cincinnati native has logged 120 minutes and scored two goals over two matches. Lavelle has been deployed exclusively in the heart of the American midfield. She has used her creativity to set up attacks downfield and will likely continue in her starting role for as long as the US plays.


How they fared in the group stage

Jamaica was the first Carribean nation in history to qualify for the Women’s World Cup. From the first kickoff, they played hard and captured the hearts of millions as they represented an entire section of the globe that had never been to this stage. While they may have not earned a point in this group stage, the effects of making this World Cup will be felt across Carribean women’s soccer for generations to come as Havana Solaun scored Jamaica’s first ever World Cup goal against Australia.

Cheyna Matthews

When asked what representing Jamaica would mean to her, Matthews replied “It’s a dream come true I mean, Jamaica is my roots.” Matthews not only achieved her dream of playing for Jamaica at the World Cup, she started for the Reggae Girlz twice. Over the course of the tournament, Matthews recorded a block, a shot, and logged 121 minutes. Things may have not gone perfectly for the Reggae Girlz, but Matthews had an experience that she will never forget.


How they fared in the group stage

The Matildas entered the tournament as an outside favorite to take the crown, with plenty of World Cup experience up and down the roster. After an early hiccup against Italy to begin play in Group C, Australia rebounded to win its final two matches, most notably erasing a 2-0 deficit to beat a strong Brazil squad 3-2. A 4-1 win over Jamaica in the group stage finale was enough to send the Matildas into second place in the group, enough to secure automatic passage to the round of 16.

Knockout round outlook

Australia will be paired with Norway, the runners-up from Group A, in the round of 16 on Saturday in Nice. The Norweigians posted six points in the group stage, the same total as the Matildas, and finished behind host nation France in their group table. Although Norway scored six goals in group play, scoring may still be an issue for them. They benefited from two penalty kicks and two own goals going their way, meaning they only scored twice from the run of play. The winner of the match will face England or Cameroon in the quarterfinals on June 27.

Chloe Logarzo

Spirit midfielder Chloe Logarzo has been a key player for Australia, starting in all three games and earning the Player of the Match award for her goal and assist against Brazil. After playing on the left wing in the first two games, she shifted to the middle against Jamaica. She played a total of 241 minutes across the three games and placed two shots on target including her long-range strike in the 58th minute against Brazil.

“It was incredible for us to progress out of the group stage even though it wasn’t the way we planned,” Logarzo said. “The Brazil game for me was probably the highlight of my career so far, to see the amount of belief and determination we had on that field was electrifying and still gives me goosebumps thinking about it.”

Amy Harrison

Midfielder Amy Harrison has yet to appear in World Cup action, but the 23-year old remains ready should she be called upon in the knockout rounds. With just ten caps to her name at this early stage of her career, it was always going to be hard to break into the Matildas’ loaded and experienced lineup. For Harrison putting on the jersey may be enough. Earlier this year, she said of representing Australia, “I think it’s hard to explain it, it’s more a feeling of gratitude, a sense of pride…” Being a part of the World Cup squad has been a great experience for Harrison that will set her up for more caps and further success down the road.

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