​Well, there it is. The US are (still) world champions, beating out the Netherlands 2-0 in a physical battle in Lyon. For all that the pre-tournament (and in-tournament) talk was about this World Cup being a changing point for women's football, we've had 32 days and still ended up with the US winning. 

The more things change...

It feels – and maybe it's better this way – like this summer was just another step in changes already being made, and changes which we haven't seen come to fruition yet. 


We've left the World Cup with the US as champions. We've had an upward spike in the quality of goalkeeping, and a huge one, but the team with a notably dodgy keeper were the team who won. 

Europe showed itself as the true powerhouse in depth, with seven of the eight quarter-finalists, and left without the trophy. Also, Megan Rapinoe is still really really really good. 

Sunday, then. A full house in Lyon for the main event, swathes of Dutch fans in orange, 'U-S-A U-S-A' chants ringing around the stadium (and the areas around it) for hours before kickoff. For the first time in the tournament, the US left the first quarter of an hour goalless. And the first half an hour. And the first half too – frustrated by a tight Dutch defence and a couple of moments of sheer brilliance from Sari van Veenendaal in the Netherlands goal. 

There were two inevitabilities coming into the game. Rapinoe would be decisive, and VAR would get an outing. The narrative, as they say, demanded it. And narrative will not be denied. 


It was on the hour mark that Alex Morgan took a boot more or less flush in the chest (think 'kicking through, top of the boot' not 'De Jong') and referee Stéphanie Frappart signalled...for a corner. Then she waited. The tell-tale hesitation, the hand to the ear, the motioned rectangle, the jog to the screen. VAR will not be denied. 

Up against Van Veenendaal, the tournament's best goalkeeper, Rapinoe stepped up. Out of the semi-final with a hamstring injury and looking a little tight against a physical Dutch side, she waited. And waited. And stepped up, with 57,900 people in the Parc Olympique Lyonnais, to leave Van Veenendaal rooted to her line and stroke home, calm as anything. 

Megan Rapinoe. VAR. Narrative. Unstoppable. 

The USWNT might have been a touch fortunate in their earlier knockout games, but there was no element of luck about it when it mattered. They were better, they were faster, they were stronger. They were undeniable. 

A lot can change in 32 days. Perceptions can change, controversies can rise, fall, and rise again. You can be invited and uninvited from the White House. But not everything can change at once. The US were, are, have been, will be, supreme. 


The 2019 Women's World Cup has been brilliant. The games have been enthralling, the performances of some players on a whole new level. The overwhelming sense was always that this would happen, though. That the US are the best, still. Celebrate the tournament, but more than that – gear up for 2023, because it might be the best World Cup ever. 

How can you do it? Watch women's football. Go to the games, support a team, do things as simple as following the beat writers for the women's game on Twitter. The tickets are cheap, the atmosphere is great, and the funding – the thing that's changed the game, truly, in this last World Cup cycle – doesn't come unless you do it. 

The problem with living through history is that you have to make yourself a part of it. What are you waiting for?