The 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup has just wrapped up Group Stage play, and oh boy what a wild ride it was. Never mind the fact everyone probably has their sleep schedules obliterated, it’s been worth it as the group stages provided tons of drama ahead of the always chaotic knockout rounds. Angel City FC see a few of their players move on, and two sadly, return home.
“I really think that we’ve inspired the country, I hope that little girls across New Zealand and the world now will start playing the sport and feel like they can achieve whatever they put their mind to.”@RileyThree checks in after New Zealand’s final game ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/A0jhveZCQx
— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) July 30, 2023
We start with the returns. After an historic and inspiring win to open up the tournament at home, New Zealand just couldn’t recapture the magic enough to advance. To their immense credit, they were into the next round heading into the final match day, but an explosion from Norway in their 6-0 rout of Philippines saw them advance past the hosts on goal differential. There is no doubt Ali Riley will receive the loudest of ovations upon her return to Los Angeles, as she leaves having inspired an entire nation. ‘
As we did in the previous update, we will also tell you about the not-technically-Angel City players that you all still want to keep up with. The other return is defender Vanessa Gilles, who’s Canada side comes crashing out of the tournament after a really tough showing. Another team that went into the final match with a chance, but a 4-0 loss to the other hosts, Australia, was the final nail. Gilles will return back to Lyon to finish out her loan.
Jun Endo and her teammates from Nadeshiko Japan are going to the round of 16!
Let’s send @jun_bangking524 messages of encouragement to carry her through the knockout stage ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/Itl43n1Y79
— Angel City FC (@weareangelcity) August 1, 2023
Not-so clear-cut favorites
Coming into this World Cup, there wasn’t really a team you could point to and say, “they are the best team in this tournament for sure, by far.” Which is what made this year’s World Cup that much more anticipated, the idea of it being so wide open. After the group stages, we can firmly say….we still don’t have a clear-cut favorite to win it all. However, there are a couple teams that are emerging as such, one being Jun Endo’s Japan squad. The team has won all three of their group stage matches, and done so as one of only three teams to not have allowed a goal so far this tournament. They also scored a tournament best 11 goals in the group stages.
Endo herself has had a bit of a coming out party this World Cup, seemingly doing it all from the midfield for her side. Scoring a goal, serving up a pair of assists, but also snagging 11 interceptions, making 11 clearances, and creating a handful of goal-scoring opportunities, Endo has really flourished in her second World Cup outing with Japan. The side will face off against Norway, tomorrow at 1:00am PT. You can watch the match live on FS1 or Telemundo.
We’re hosting WWC Watch Parties at TWO locations!
🗓️ 8/6 (LATE SAT NIGHT!)
⏰ Parties @ 12:30AM
🍻 Last call @ 1:45AM
🇺🇸🇸🇪 USA vs. Swed @ 2AM
🪓 Axe throwing reservation ONLY. Last reservation @ 12:45AM
Full deets below:
— Angel City FC (@weareangelcity) August 3, 2023
More Questions than answers
Limping into the knockout round was the United States Women’s Team. Coming down to the last match of the group, the USWNT nearly faced disaster as Portugal came within inches of late goal that would have likely seen them advance, sending US home far earlier than hoped. As it was, the USWNT head into the knockout round in second place, meaning history can continue to repeat itself as they will once again face Sweden. A team that has historically given them fits, and a team that is no stranger to facing the US in tournaments of this magnitude.
Alyssa Thompson hasn’t seen too much playing time, which is one of many critiques that have floated around this side. However, when she is on, she is on. Bringing a new layer to the attack, often the exact player needed to get on the end of some the long balls played. It may be relatively quiet for Thompson, she has made a huge impact when given the chance.
Thompson’s Angel City FC teammate, Julie Ertz, has also done incredibly well this tournament. While her issue hasn’t been playing team as a starter, there have been plenty scratching their head as to why one of the world’s best midfielders, has been deployed as a central defender. Still, Ertz has done well enough in the role, but the bigger issue is her presence seems far more needed in the midfield if the USWNT want any chance at making a deep run in this tournament. As mentioned, the side play Sweden Sunday Aug. 6, at 2:00am PT. The match will be live on FOX as well as Telemundo.
One of many darlings
Again, not technically an Angel City FC player, Allyson Swaby has opened up plenty of eyes so far this World Cup. The defender has played every minute for Jamaica, and is in the top ten for clearances in the tournament so far, with 34. She has 18 interceptions, and even has a goal to her name. Jamaica is another one of the three teams to not have allowed a goal all group stage, as they continue to make history by advancing into the knockout round. Angel City fans who have been watching will definitely be keeping fingers crossed Swaby returns to Los Angeles after her current loan with PSG. Jamaica will play fellow World Cup darling, Colombia, in what is sure to be one of the more thrilling matches of the round. The match is on Tuesday Aug. 8 at 1:00am PT. You can catch it live on FS1, Telemundo, and Universo.
Who have you been rooting for this Women’s World Cup? Leave a comment below!