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Best World Cup Moments

Now that it’s over, let’s take a trip down memory lane.

United States of America v Netherlands : Final - 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup France Photo by Maja Hitij/Getty Images

The party’s over. As quickly as it arrived, the Women’s World Cup is now over. A summer of soccer to remember, here are some of the best moments from this World Cup.

France’s big 4-0 night over S. Korea

Hard to believe the World Cup is over already. But one of the best moments was the host country’s opening night to kick off the entire tournament. A crowded Parc Des Princes in Paris, as France’s national team took on South Korea. The lights, the sounds, the goals, all provided the bar that would later go on to be met throughout the competition as the hosts, would go on to win 4-0, and win their group.

The re-defining of arrogance

The United States Women’s national team were amongst the last teams to begin their World Cup and they announced their arrival to the tournament with gusto with a 13-0 win over Thailand. Their goal celebrations became a topic of conversation, being labeled as disrespectful and were casted with the reputation throughout the competition as being arrogant. The team embraced the criticism, and in an effort to remind everyone watching, they used it to push themselves and the game they are trying to grow forward.

First time World Cups

This World Cup also brought us teams earning their first appearances. Teams with players that some have been waiting to see in a World Cup, like Kim Little and Janine Van Wyk. Along with other players whose names are just beginning to turn heads like Bunny Shaw and Christiane Endler. The World Cup debutantes gave us group records of 1W-1D-10L, and some memorable first goals, especially Jamaica’s and South Africa’s

Final World Cups?

With every World Cup that has debutantes, there are tournaments that carry retirements. Only Karen Carney has announced hers from England’s national team. But soccer careers eventually come to an end, and ultimately we won’t know until we know. But in the hypothetical sense that we may have just witnessed a final World Cup for some legendary careers - Marta, Formiga, Cristiane, Sinclair, Seger, and others - thank you for the memories.

Marta’s World Cup exit speech

Marta came into this World Cup with a nagging injury, leaving many to wonder if they’d still witness a bit of magic from the icon. During her World Cup, Marta would break the record for most goals scored by a man or woman in World Cups with 17 goals.

In Brazil’s knockout game against France, many have speculated that we witnessed the end of an era for Brazilian women’s football. Directly after their loss, the biggest face in Brazilian football stood in front of cameras and gave an epic, emotional, inspiring speech to young girls and those of us watching. It was just another memorable moment from Marta, to go with her storied career of memorable moments, when she told us to “Cry in the beginning so you can smile in the end.”

Megan Rapinoe’s platform

If ever there was a player to control their own narrative on the pitch, it was Megan Rapinoe. Although she’s always had a willingness to be outspoken, some comments she made back in January for an 8by8 digital media segment surfaced during the United States tournament run. Like most things referring to the recent president, a media spiral consumed. Which included some infamous tweeting from the president, chastising Rapinoe and her comments specifically, eventually goeding her to shut up and win before saying something.

Instead of the attention being a distraction, it became something unifying for the team and Rapinoe. With some teammates even speaking out in support of Rapinoe and her comments. Rapinoe would eventually go on to exelle both on and off the pitch, nailing press conferences, captaining the team, assisting goals, and scoring them too.

She leaves this tournament as winner of the Golden Boot, Golden Ball, and a World Cup champion.

Competitive level of play and the progression of VAR

The level of play during this World Cup was a highlight for the tournament. Even as the United States became the winningest team in World Cup history, there is a narrative exiting this World Cup that the competitive level of play has risen, and the future looks bright as team’s head home and look to build towards the next World Cup.

While VAR was frustrating, confusing, and at moments out right painful - its progression from the group stages into the knockout rounds was completely different in the way that it was utilized. The integration of VAR in the women’s game during this World Cup was initially welcomed and praised. During the group stages, it was criticized with overuse, re-officiating games, and confusion of the rules.

As the tournament progressed, so did the implementation of VAR, which even included an immediate rule change on the issuing of yellow cards to goalkeepers who come off their lines on penalty kicks.

By the time the knockout rounds arrived, officiating teams were utilizing VAR in a way that didn’t feel like it was destroying games and dreams along the way, or at the very least didn’t feel like it was being used on every chaotic play in the box.

It was a painful process, but VAR is likely here to stay - and as tech arrived to the game - it’ll be a force in the how the game evolves moving forward.

The World Cup Final

United States vs Netherlands gave fans a final to remember. No matter the outcome on the day, someone was making history for their country. A new country would be crowned champion or another country would cement their dynasty. Netherlands gave USA a challenge in the first half, until a penalty kick was awarded, and Megan Rapinoe converted in the 61st minute. An additional goal from Rose Lavelle would seal the victory, as the United States won the match, 2-0.

The Future

As another women’s World Cup broke new viewing records and interest engagement, the conversation on how to push forward from the tournament came into play. There have already been announcement from different countries making commitments to pushing the women’s game ahead.

Liga MX announced the extension of BBVA’s league sponsorship, which will now include Liga MX Femenil, in a historic partnership for Mexican Women’s Soccer. News out of China is that $145 million will be invested into women’s soccer over 10 years through a pledge from Alipay.

On the eve of the World Cup final, Budwieser announced their official sponsorship with NWSL, the women’s professional league in the United States.

So much of what happens on the global stage can be epic, the energy contagious, and hopefully will be harnessed into longevity throughout the world.