REIMS, France — It’s the game everyone hoped for: United States vs. France.
It may be coming a bit sooner than most hoped, but Friday’s World Cup quarterfinal between the reigning champ and the host country will be the marquee matchup of the tournament thus far. Kickoff is scheduled for 3 p.m. at Parc des Princes in Paris.
“Hopefully a complete spectacle, just an absolute like media circus. I hope it’s huge and crazy,” U.S. forward Megan Rapinoe said Monday after the U.S. beat Spain 2-1 in the round of 16 to advance. “That’s what it should be. This is the best game. This is what everybody wanted. I think we want it. Seems like they’re up for it. You guys are obviously up for it. Maybe it’ll be a pretty even split between the fans in the stadium. We’ve been traveling pretty deep in this World Cup, so I hope it’s just a total sh–show circus.”
Rapinoe couldn’t contain her enthusiasm and went on to say it’s the type of game you dream about as a kid.
U.S. coach Jill Ellis laughed and said she wouldn’t be quite as colorful describing the upcoming match, but said she gets more excited ahead of big matches like the France quarterfinal because it means more and matter more.
The French beat Brazil 2-1 in a match that went into extra time to advance to the quarterfinals.
“It’s going to be an amazing game, probably crazy and a lot into it, obviously, intense, but as it should be,” Ellis asid. “I truly think this is the world game for women. I’m sure a lot of people wanted it later in the tournament, but it is what it is.”
The crowd is likely to be a sellout, and the U.S. is hoping its well-traveled fans, who have filled the majority of the stadiums they’ve played in so far, will make it a balanced crowd in the nearly 48,000-seat stadium.
Before Rapinoe took the second penalty kick that handed the United States victory over Spain, there was a long delay while the referee reviewed the penalty.
Before the review, Alex Morgan had taken the ball and stepped up to the penalty spot. After the review confirmed a penalty on Rose Lavelle, Rapinoe walked up to take the PK instead. She then had an exchange with the referee and moved the ball a few times before taking the kick that led to the game-winning goal.
“We have sort of a ranking going on,” Rapinoe explained. “I took the first one, obviously I had given Alex the second one. I thought maybe just change it up for the goalkeeper, make them think about something more. Alex is obviously very good at them. We had a long break, whatever, and the coach is like, ‘We have ranking for a reason, so get back in there and take it.'”
Rapinoe said the referee then told her the ball wasn’t directly on the penalty kick spot, so she had to move it “two blades of grass.”