After a month of breathtaking soccer, the World Cup concluded with the United States lifting the trophy again. The US Women’s National Team won their second consecutive World Cup, beating the Netherlands 2–0. Goals from Megan Rapinoe and Rose Lavelle were enough to top the reigning European champions in the final.
This World Cup had it all: an incredible 146 goals, a number of flashy celebrations, and more than enough VAR drama. Speaking of numbers, let’s take a look at 12 stats that caught our eye.
The last time the United States didn’t win a match in this tournament, it was 2015 and the result was a 0–0 draw against Sweden in the group stage. The USWNT has now won a record 12 consecutive matches in the World Cup, including all seven in this year’s edition.
All the way back in 2011, during the final against Japan, was the last time the side lost a World Cup game.
The USWNT couldn’t stop scoring. The players hit the back of the net 18 times during the group stage, with the majority (13!) coming against Thailand. In the knockout rounds, they tacked on eight goals, the last a lethal left-footed strike by Lavelle. That made 26 for the United States, a World Cup record for goals in a single tournament.
Megan Rapinoe stepped up when the USA needed her the most and, despite the blinding spotlight shining upon her, delivered. Rapinoe scored three goals from the penalty spot, all in the knockout rounds. She put away two against Spain and scored the opener in the final, slotting it past Sari van Veenendaal, who won the World Cup Golden Glove. Rapinoe became the third player in Women’s World Cup history to score three spot kicks in one tournament, per Opta Sports,
The United States dominated the tournament, especially in the first 45 minutes. They never trailed heading into halftime in each of their seven games.
It’s no surprise the USA led in shots on target, with 56. Throughout every game the side peppered the opposing goalkeeper with chances. Any sort of defensive lapse turned into an opportunity on goal for the United States. In their opening match against Thailand, they had a whopping 20 shots on goal.
Lucy Bronze was arguably the best defensive player at the World Cup. The Silver Ball winner, who plays her club football for Lyon, was crucial to England’s backline. Despite the fact that she’s ostensibly a fullback, Bronze bolsters the Lionesses’ offense by cutting inside and assisting the midfield on attack. She isn’t shy to try a shot on goal either.
She’s a brick wall in defense, rarely getting beat in one-on-one situations. Bronze is an extremely intelligent defender and thus is rarely seen making a silly challenge. Her 15 successful tackles saw her tied for 2nd highest in the tournament with Netherlands’ Jackie Groenen. What’s even more impressive is her 88.2 tackle success percentage, the highest of any defender who executed 12 or more tackles.
Statistically, Germany and the United States had the two best defenses in the World Cup. They were first and second respectively in goals allowed. Germany did not allow a goal until the quarterfinal against Sweden. The United States gave up one goal in each of its first three knockout ties for a total tally of three.
Almuth Schult and Alyssa Naeher were solid between the sticks for their respective countries. They led the way with four clean sheets each. Both benefited from superb defenses, meaning they weren’t required to make as many saves as others and therefore not as heralded as keepers who made what appeared to be outstanding blocks. However, when called upon, they made game-saving stops.
Schult’s best save happened in Germany’s final group stage match, when she stopped a one-on-one chance against South Africa’s Thembi Kgatlana in the 75th minute.
Naeher’s big moment came against England, saving Steph Houghton’s penalty in the 84th minute to preserve a 2–1 lead in the semifinal.
Failing to convert a penalty was something of a common trend in the tournament. Eight penalties were either missed or saved during this World Cup.
The Lionesses missed a total of three throughout their time in France, the most out of any side at the World Cup. Before Naeher’s save on Houghton in the semifinal, England previously had two chances go awry as Nikita Parris missed kicks against Argentina and Norway.
While this World Cup provided plenty of tense moments, not every game was a nail biter. Fans witnessed a number of blowouts, especially in the group stage. Twelve matches ended with the winner having scored three goals (or more) more than their opponents.
Four players scored hat tricks at this World Cup. Cristiane kicked off the festivities in Brazil’s opening match against Jamaica. Alex Morgan scored five against Thailand, recording a super hat trick in the second half alone. Jamaica’s misfortune continued in their next group stage match as Cristiana Girelli bagged three goals for Italy.
Australia’s Sam Kerr, considered the best player appearing at the tournament, delivered the final hat trick (plus one), scoring all four goals in the Matildas’ final group stage game, once again against the suffering Jamaican side.
If there were a prize for the most yellow cards awarded, Brazil would have brought home at least one trophy. Brazil racked up to eleven cautions, two more than second-place Nigeria.
Kosovare Asllani was Sweden’s most crucial player in attack during the World Cup. She showed no fear whenever her side had the ball and always kept defenses on their toes. Asllani scored three goals and dished out two assists while playing in a more attacking position in the midfield, though she often functioned as the link between offense and defense.
Danielle van de Donk was just as important in attack for Netherlands. Playing in an advanced midfield role meant the majority of the Dutch offense was funneled through her. She didn’t record a goal or an assist, but she still gave her opponents problems thanks to her passing and her ability to create chances.
Given their constant presence near opposing penalty areas, teams consistently roughed up both Asllani and van de Donk, each of whom suffered 18 fouls during the tournament.