Women’s World Cup, Gold Cup on the line for U.S. teams
With three international soccer tournament finals, Sunday may feel like nirvana for soccer fans. Within hours, the FIFA Women’s Soccer World Cup, South American Copa America, and North American Gold Cup finals will all be played.
Over the past month, the U.S. Women’s National Team has captured the country’s attention as it has streaked – undefeated – through the World Cup. Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe, Alyssa Naeher and the rest of the team have given the nation a reason to be proud. The squad easily won their group then went through a murder’s row of challenges from France (arguably the second best team in the tournament), Spain, and England (arguably the third best team in the tournament) in the knock-out rounds.
On Sunday, they’ll be playing for the right to lift their fourth World Cup trophy. The Netherlands stand between the Yanks and glory. The Dutch reached the final by knocking out Sweden.
Congratulations to Holland on reaching the final, but with all due respect to “The Orange,” the U.S. head coach Jill Ellis has to be pleased with their opponent. Throughout the tournament, Sweden’s offense, led by Sofia Jakobsson, displayed the type of fast-paced, counter attack – as shown by England’s Ellen White – that has puzzled the American’s defense the past few games.
Expect the climax of this tournament to get record levels of coverage worldwide, especially stateside. This week, Nike announced the U.S. Women’s National Team jersey is the best-selling in a one-month period in the company’s history. Fans are excited. They have reason to be. Morgan and the Yanks should go from “sipping tea,” as she did in her goal-scoring celebration against England, to sipping some of host-county France’s finest champagne.
As if the Women’s World Cup final wasn’t enough, there will be Men’s tournaments decided in the America’s two global federations. Brazil and Peru will face each other in the Copa America, South America’s men’s championship. Brazil is a global soccer darling. Winners of five World Cups, the canary and blue have been underperforming for the past few years. Fans from around the globe will be interested to see if a win will mark the return of the iconic team.
Sunday night marks the next installment of a clash of the titans. The United States will square off with Mexico the CONCACAF Gold Cup, the men’s championship of North and Central American and Caribbean nations. After missing the World Cup in Russia last summer, the U.S. Men’s National Team has undergone a rebirth. Gone are most of the recognized veterans who made up the backbone of the squad for years. The team is much younger than they were 16 months ago. Led by Christian Pulisic, who became the most expensive American player of all time when London-based Chelsea bought his contract from Borussia Dortmund in January for $73 million, the team has shown pluck and an appealing attacking style of soccer.
While a triple-header of soccer games is thrilling for fans, it is a bit surprising that FIFA, soccer’s global governing body, would play a world championship on the same day as two regional championships. These tournaments have been planned years in advance, and it would have been nice to see the Women’s World Cup winner enjoy the headlines without having to share them – or not in many places – with the men’s winners in the Americas.
When asked about the women’s World Cup Final having to share the spotlight, Rapinoe said, “It’s ridiculous, and disappointing, to be honest.”
She has a point.
Still, FIFA’s responsibility is to promote the game, which will no doubt have a huge day on Sunday. In a statement on playing the three games on the same day, the organization said in a release, “The scheduling of the different events has gone through a comprehensive consultancy process, which has involved all key stakeholders and taken into account different aspects of the women’s and men’s international match calendars. It is a rare and exciting occurrence.”
Women’s World Cup Final
United States vs. The Netherlands
Sunday, 10 a.m., FOX
Copa America Final
Brazil vs. Peru
Sunday, 3 p.m., ESPN+ and Telemundo
Gold Cup Final
United States vs. Mexico
Sunday, 8 p.m., FOX Sports 1