The United States Women's National Team headed to the 2019 Women's World Cup as a favorite to lift the trophy. Led by Megan Rapinoe, the American powerhouse backed up the billing.
Rapinoe and Co. opened the tournament in Group F with a 13-0 drubbing of Thailand and a 3-0 victory over Chile. Then, the U.S. topped Sweden 2-0—because what's a major tournament without playing Sweden?—and advanced to the knockout round.
After a thrilling 2-1 triumph opposite Spain, Jill Ellis' side eliminated host and co-favorite France by a 2-1 margin. Wins against England (2-1) and the Netherlands (2-0) sealed the second straight and fourth overall Women's World Cup title for the USWNT.
That seven-win streak featured plenty of memorable moments, and we're reliving the best of them.
Morgan's Massive Day in 13-0 Rout
One of the world's most prolific strikers, Alex Morgan opened the scoring for the USWNT against Thailand and hardly stopped.
Morgan broke through in the 12th minute, painlessly heading home a cross from Kelley O'Hara. She assisted on Rose Lavelle's goal eight minutes later, a score that sealed the result against the overmatched Thailand squad and contributed to a 13-0 final.
After taking a 3-0 lead into halftime, the USWNT scored four times in the next 11 minutes. Morgan added her second goal in that span, then she netted a hat trick—plus an assist—in the final 17 minutes alone.
Morgan finished the blowout with a Women's World Cup record-tying five goals, as well as two assists.
Horan Sparks Win Over Sweden
The 2019 Women's World Cup marked the eighth edition of the tournament and the sixth time the U.S. and Sweden shared a group. As if that trend weren't enough, Sweden had eliminated the USWNT in the quarterfinals of the 2016 Olympics.
Rivalry. Revenge. Two undefeated teams in group play. This contest had any number of compelling storylines.
But it took only three minutes for midfielder Lindsey Horan to put the United States in front.
On a corner kick, Rapinoe drove a low ball to the near post. Samantha Mewis flicked the cross, and Horan split two defenders to finish off a tone-setting goal.
Early in the second half, Tobin Heath scorched a tight-angle shot off Sweden's Jonna Andersson to double the lead. The 2-0 victory sealed the USWNT's top finish in Group F.
U.S. Survives Spain on Rapinoe PK
The opening half ended 1-1 after Rapinoe buried a penalty kick and a careless U.S. turnover resulted in Spain's goal. Rapinoe drilled a second PK in the second half to give the USWNT a 2-1 win.
During the 76th minute, Spain's Virginia Torrecilla tripped Lavelle as she attacked a loose ball in the box. Controversial though it was, VAR (video assistant referee) confirmed the referee's decision and awarded the USWNT the penalty.
Rapinoe stepped up and calmly slotted it home, propelling the Americans to a much-anticipated showdown in the quarterfinals.
Rapinoe Strikes The Pose, U.S. Knocks Out France
Rapinoe only needed five minutes to make a statement.
The set-piece specialist hit a curling ball toward the near post, and a mass of bodies created confusion in front of net. U.S. midfielder Julie Ertz dummied a flick and jumped over the ball, which managed to avoid all those bodies and hit the French net.
After scoring the goal, Rapinoe headed to the corner and threw up her arms in defiant celebration. "Love me or hate me," the pose effectively said. "You've seen my greatness."
Rapinoe backed up the confidence with another goal in the 65th minute, powering home a cross from Heath.
France scored in the 81st minute, but the USWNT survived late for a 2-1 victory that bounced the host nation.
Morgan Sips the Tea, Naeher's PK Save
The tournament's heavy favorite after defeating France, the U.S. side-stepped England in the semifinals thanks to Morgan and Alyssa Naeher.
Christen Press opened the scoring with a beautiful header in the 10th minute. England's Ellen White answered nine minutes later, but Morgan soon headed home a cross from Horan for a 2-1 edge. She then unveiled a tea-sipping celebration.
While the reactions to Morgan's celebration varied, Naeher's save on a penalty kick deserved universal praise.
After VAR overturned an England goal due to a missed offsides call, England had another chance in the 79th minute. U.S. defender Becky Sauerbrunn tripped White in the box, sending England captain Stephanie Houghton to the spot.
Naeher chose correctly, diving to the right, trapping the ball and sealing the nerve-filled 2-1 triumph.
Rapinoe, Lavelle Vault USWNT to Fourth Star
In the 2015 Women's World Cup final, the Carli Lloyd-led group raced to a 4-0 advantage over Japan and looked every bit the dominant team. It wasn't as straightforward in 2019, to say the least.
Not until the 61st minute did the USWNT break through, perhaps fittingly on a penalty kick from Rapinoe.
Morgan took a kick to the upper body inside the box, resulting in the penalty. After drilling both kicks to the left corner against Spain, Rapinoe crossed up the Netherlands and went right. She once again ran to the corner and threw up her arms in celebration.
Eight minutes later, Lavelle doubled the USWNT lead. Following a calm run that started near midfield, the left-footer unleashed an 18-yard rocket into the right corner.
As the U.S. celebrated its fourth Women's World Cup title, Rapinoe earned the Golden Ball and Golden Boot as the tournament's best overall player and top scorer, respectively. Lavelle took home the Bronze Ball, and Morgan landed the Silver Boot.