The United States returned to the World Cup final with a thrilling 2-1 victory over England on Tuesday in Lyon, France. Christen Press, a surprise starter for an apparently injured Megan Rapinoe, and Alex Morgan, on her 30th birthday, scored for the Americans.
It is the third straight trip to the final for the United States, which lost to Japan in 2011 and then routed the Japanese four years ago in a rematch in Canada. The U.S. can claim a record fourth title, and second in a row, with a victory Sunday. The opponent will be the Netherlands or Sweden, who meet in the second semifinal Wednesday.
Ellen White matched Press’ goal to pull England even in the first half and then had an apparent goal disallowed by video review in the 68th minute. White, dangerous all night, then won a penalty about 10 minutes later — a decision affirmed, this time, after a video review — but her teammate Steph Houghton had her spot kick saved by goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher.
From there, the United States took no chances and locked the game down. An extra defender was inserted in the back line, and England was reduced to 10 players by Millie Bright’s ejection for her second yellow card.
U.S. coach Jill Ellis and U.S. Soccer gave no reason for Rapinoe’s surprising absence from the American starting lineup; she emerged from the locker room for pregame warmups but did not take part, suggesting she had picked up an injury since scoring two goals in a quarterfinal win over France on Friday.
That hardly seemed to matter afterward, however, as the Americans dissolved into joyous hugs at the whistle and the English players crumpled to the turf. England is off to the third-place game for the second World Cup in a row.
Ellis and her team, meanwhile, will be getting ready for yet another final.
“Stay humble,” Ellis said she would tell her team in the locker room. “We’ve got one more.”