From some perspectives (including that of players on the field), it looks like France outplayed the USWNT in the World Cup semifinal. But France lost.
It has been said, too, of France’s game against England, that they dominated possession, played the better game. But they only won on penalties.
Many felt that Brazil played a better game against the US in the Olympics, some might say they played a better game (in a few ways at least) than the USWNT last week – but Brazil lost the Olympic and the World Cup matches.
Defensive work from the whole team provided the architecture of the USWNT’s recent wins – from Solo, Sauerbrunn, LePeilbet, Rampone, Rapinoe, Lloyd, Kreiger, and more. Even pressure from Alex Morgan contributes to this side of the USWNT game: I never understood why the striker was brought on so late in the game until I saw her entry into the game with my own eyes. The minute she took the field, she began harassing the keeper and France’s back line – when they had the ball.
For long stretches against a ‘technical’ opponent like Brazil or France, it looks like the USWNT isn’t playing pretty football. Those teams love to hold the ball. They play a possession game.The media trains us to look at the game through the logic of attack. When we do so, we act as if a team only plays when they have the ball. But of course this is just not true.