Before the FIFA Women's World Cup began there was so much chatter about a potential quarter-final meeting between the U.S. Women's National Team and host nation France – an enthralling game that came to pass last week, which ended 2-1 to the Americans.
However, was everyone looking at the wrong matchup?
The United States takes on England on Tuesday in a thrilling semi-final clash. This one has drama, suspense and action written all over it.
The last time England and the United States faced off was at the SheBelieves Cup in March, where both sides fought hard for a 2-2 draw. Megan Rapinoe, who has been on fire for the USWNT and scored both goals against France, found the back of the net in that match along with Tobin Heath – while Nikita Parris and Steph Houghton struck for the Lionesses.
So what should people watch out for in this match? Here are two players to keep an eye on during USA vs England on Tuesday.
Ellen White has been a Lioness for a long time; first being capped for the national team back in 2010, and making 86 appearances over the course of her international career. While she's been popular in her homeland – winning the England Women's Player of the Year award in 2011 and 2018 – this World Cup has catapulted her to a new level of fame.
Why? Simply put, she's been deadly. Sharing her place at the top of the goalscoring charts with the USA's Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan (and Australia's Sam Kerr, who's been out of the tournament for a week), the 30-year-old forward scored in two out of the three group stage matches and in both knockout round contests so far, bringing her total to five goals. Her ability to slip through defences can – and will – cause trouble for the United States' backline.
White will take her talents to Manchester City next season, where she signed for the upcoming campaign after leaving Birmingham City with 23 goals in 26 league games.
“We had a camp last year and we set out the objectives for the next 12 months, and all I wanted them to say was ‘win the World Cup,'" coach Phil Neville said, via The Guardian. "But they were thinking bigger than winning a World Cup, which knocked me in my stride a little bit. We want the Lionesses to have a name that people around the world can relate to...badass women. That was our mantra.”
White will have to battle with Becky Sauerbrunn and Abby Dahlkemper before being able to test Alyssa Naeher, and to a lesser extent outside-backs Crystal Dunn and Kelley O'Hara. She's proved against four different teams so far, though, that she only needs one chance to capitalise.
Julie Ertz is a rock.
When she's up to attack set piece plays, she's hard to defend, slipping her way through defences with her relatively diminutive 5'7 stature. She's not the tallest player on the pitch — that'll be Sam Mewis — but her athletic ability to get in the air makes up for it. Ertz is proficient, and known for scoring goals with her head.
However, she's also known for being a great defender. Back in 2015, Ertz – then Julie Johnston – featured at centre-back alongside Sauerbrunn. The two made a good partnership, but they were split up when Jill Ellis chose to move Ertz into a defensive midfield role, which she plays for the Chicago Red Stars.
With that experience behind her, Ertz spent a large chunk of the France match in defensive mode. She went back to help Dunn, normally an attacking midfielder and forward, when she was getting diced up by Kadidiatou Diani – and was integral to the US conceding only one goal. And for that goal....well, there's only so much Ertz and the defenders could do against 6'2 centre-back Wendie Renard.
Against England, Ertz will likely find herself back in a defensive position, most likely keeping track of the dangerous Fran Kirby. Whenever there's a set piece though, don't be surprised to see the veteran up inside the box and ready to strike.