‘Guardrails’ are essential for women’s pro sports

The USWNT and England met today at Wembley Stadium in a friendly for the ages. On Her Turf provided live updates of the match, which England won 2-1. See below to relive how the game unfolded.

USA vs. England β€” Live Updates from the First Half

Players from England and the United States are wearing teal armbands to “stand in solidarity with sexual violence survivors.” Prior to kickoff, both teams came together to pose for a photo with a “Protect the Players” banner. (In addition there was also a moment of silence for the recent stadium stampede in Indonesia, where 125 people died and hundreds were injured.)

(Photo by Nick Potts/PA Images via Getty Images)

10β€²: England scores! Lauren Hemp taps the ball past the US goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher (video below).

20β€²: Oof. A couple of rough collisions so far today, including just now as US defender Emily Fox took a shoulder to the face. She gets subbed out and is replaced by Hailie Mace.

28β€²: The US equalises! Lindsey Horan does a great job of forcing a turnover and gets the ball to Sophia Smithwho finds the back of the net (video below).

32β€²: After VAR review, US defender Hailie Mace is given a yellow card for a high boot and England is awarded a penalty. Georgia Stanway converts, with US goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher diving in the wrong direction (video below).

36β€²: And the US equalizes β€” again! Trinity Rodman makes it 2-2. Megan Rapinoe does a great job of bringing defender Lucy Bronze to the far post and slipping the ball over to Rodman.

38β€²: SCRATCH THAT. Rodman’s goal is called back due to an offsides ruling. A very surprising, and honestly, very confusing call. England leads 2-1 again.

And even Alex Morgan (who is out with a knee injury) is weighing in on the “offside” call. Glad I’m not the only one who is confused…

45+3′: And that’s the half. England leads 2-1. Some rough moments out there β€” both physically and tactically β€” but also a lot of positive takeaways for both teams. The USWNT should take some confidence in the goal that could’ve (should’ve?) been. Plus, given the very inexperienced lineup β€” and all they’ve been through in recent days β€” it felt like the pieces were starting to come together out there as the half continued.

Yates report takeaways extend beyond NWSL: ‘Guardrails’ are essential for women’s pro sports

USWNT vs. England β€” Live Updates from the Second Half

60β€²: Megan Rapinoe takes a shot, which is deflected by an England defender. The US is definitely upping the pressure this half.

63β€²: And Crystal Dunn and Sam Coffey has subbing in for the USWNT. It’s Dunn’s first appearance for the USWNT since giving birth to her son in May.

This is Coffey’s first time traveling internationally with the USWNT. I caught up with her ahead of the Portland Thorns’ final regular season game last week and the NWSL rookie told me she is excited to learn as much as she can from the experience.

68β€²: England making a substitution of its own ace Ella Toone committed in the forum Fran Kirby.

74β€²: Wow. Naomi Girma, for the second time tonight, outsprinting an England forward to reach a critical ball before her opponent. Girma, an NWSL rookie with the San Diego Wave, made her USWNT debut earlier this year.

81β€²: After initially awarding the USWNT a penalty for an England handball, the call is (rightfully!) overturned on VAR review.

83β€²: And 17-year-old Alyssa Thompson is subbing into the game, along with Becky Sauerbrunn and Ashley Sanchez.

Thomas, a high school senior who plays club soccer for the U-17 Total Futbol Academy boys’ team, earns her first USWNT cap by replacing Megan Rapinoewho is more than twice her age.

90 + 4′: And that’s the match. England wins 2-1.

A couple post-game thoughts: England definitely looked like the stronger team today (as evidenced by their 69% possession percentage, in addition to the 2-1 score). Still, a lot of positive takeaways for the USWNT, especially given their less experienced lineup and the tumultuous week following the release of the Yates report.

I can’t get over how composed Naomi Girma looked out in just her eighth cap for the USWNT.

The final attendance at Wembley was 76,893 β€” so lower than anticipated and no doubt hampered by the soggy conditions. Still marks the biggest crowd to attend a USWNT friendly, though.

USWNT vs. England β€” Pre-Game Notes:

Today’s game should be the USWNT’s toughest test in over a year, as the reigning World Cup champions take on the 2022 European Champions. Still, the match comes at the end of a tumultuous week for the women’s soccer community, following the release of the US Soccer-commissioned Yates report on Monday.

“The players are not doing well,” USWNT captain Becky Sauerbrunn said Tuesday. “We are horrified and heartbroken and frustrated and exhausted and really, really angry.”

The juxtaposition of Monday’s report and Friday’s historic game β€” which is expected to break multiple attendance records (more below) β€” is especially tough.

“Just to have to deal with that on such an incredible occasion, to be here at Wembley and be able to participate in this game, which is so exciting β€” the juxtaposition is ridiculous,” USWNT and OL Reign forward Megan Rapinoe said Thursday.

How to watch the USWNT vs. England at Wembley

Fans in the United States can watch the USWNT vs. England on FOX. The pre-game broadcast begins at 2:30pm ET and the match kicks off at 3pm ET (8pm local).

USWNT Starting XI

Alyssa Naeher, Alana Cook, Trinity Rodman, Sofia Huerta, Lindsey Horan (C), Sophia Smith, Naomi Girma, Megan Rapinoe, Rose Lavelle, Andi Sullivan, Emily Fox

England Starting XI

Mary Earps, Lucy Bronze, Rachel Daly, Keira Walsh, Millie Bright (C), Alex Greenwood, Beth Mead, Georgia Stanway, Lauren Hemp, Fran Kirby, Chloe Kelly

Which women’s soccer attendance records could be broken?

General admission tickets for today’s USA-ENG match sold out in 15 minutes, making it the fastest sellout in women’s soccer history. More than 80,000 fans are expected to pack into Wembley to watch the USWNT vs. England on Friday. Here are a few of the attendance records to keep an eye on.

  • The USA-England match is expected to be the second-highest attended USWNT match in history, behind only the 1999 World Cup Final at the Rose Bowl (90,185).
  • This match is expected to break the record for the largest crowd to watch the USWNT outside of the United States. The current record, 80,203, was also set at Wembley during the gold medal game at the 2012 London Olympics.
  • This match is expected to break the record for most fans to watch a USWNT friendly. The current record, 49,504, was set during a USA-Portugal Friendly in Philadelphia in August 2019)
  • Some England national team records could also be broken, depending on just how many fans show up. In July, 87,192 fans were in attendance at Wembley for the Women’s European Championship final featuring England vs. Germany. That game broke the record for largest attendance in Euro history β€” men’s or women’s. It also broke the record for the most spectators to watch a women’s game in England.