No, sorry. It’s “NAIR!!!!!”Does that seem like too many exclamation points? OK, sorry, but consider how many times Naeher had to deal with being called a question mark entering this World Cup, perhaps the one question mark in a U.S. women’s national team lineup loaded with stars, talented players, veterans and, to be sure, world champions.WOMEN’S WORLD CUP: U.S. victory, as it happenedThere was so much analysis in advance of this tournament about whether she would be able to be the final — and perhaps most crucial — piece of a championship lineup. And that doubt reached its zenith in the 84th minute of the U.S.-England World Cup semifinal Tuesday, when England defender Steph Houghton stepped to the penalty spot, there to take a kick awarded when U.S. veteran Becky Sauerbrunn caught England’s Ellen White in the calf as she loaded up to shoot for the tying goal, an offense caught by video review.Naeher didn’t budge until she was certain where Houghton was aiming, then leaped to her right and smothered the ball short of the goal line. The United States still was ahead, the score still was 2-1, and it would stay that way for the remainder of the game and advance the Americans to their third consecutive World Cup final.ALYSSA NAEHER COMES UP BIG!The U.S. keeper saves the penalty to keep them ahead vs England. #FIFAWWCpic.twitter.com/wij2WZY89i— FOX Sports (@FOXSports) July 2, 2019“I just said to her, ‘That was your shining moment, but we’ve got one more game,'” coach Jill Ellis told Fox Sports following the game. “What a freaking stop. It was incredible.”She was not the only U.S. player heard from who had been quiet before. It seemed curious Tuesday when winger Christen Press was sent to the team’s official matchday-minus-1 news conference, given that she’d only played a bit as a substitute. In fact, it had been a signal that something was amiss.Megan Rapinoe, who’d scored all four U.S. goals in the knockout stages, would not be installed at her usual position on the left side of the forward line. She reportedly is bothered by a hamstring injury, and so Press took her place. And not just her position.MORE: Rapinoe says she will be ready for finalPress scored the first U.S. goal in the 10th minute with a confident, precise header off an inch-perfect cross from right back Kelley O’Hara. Press got what might be called a “hockey assist” on the second goal, scored by star striker Alex Morgan, by fielding a long forward ball from defender Abby Dahlkemper and forwarding it to midfielder Lindsey Horan. It was Horan who put another perfect ball into the box for Morgan to head past England keeper Carly Telford.”Alyssa Naeher, she needs to be player of the match. Honestly, she saved our ass,” Morgan told Fox, before catching herself and trying to euphemize to “saved our butts.” Works either way, even on broadcast TV.Naeher became the Americans’ No. 1 goalkeeper almost by default in 2016, after Hope Solo got herself suspended and terminated by U.S. Soccer for one too many episodes of inelegance.Solo is still at it. The BBC has been paying her to be a studio analyst at the Women’s World Cup, and she has spent a surprising amount of her time taking shots at Ellis, creating the sense Solo still is carrying bitterness about how her U.S. Soccer career ended. She said before the tournament that Ellis is a poor leader who “cracks under pressure.” She praised England coach Phil Neville — a head coach for 23 games with a record of 15-4-4 — as “one of the best” tacticians in advance of the game vs. the U.S.She said nothing there about Ellis, who now has coached 13 World Cup games without losing, including three in a row against excellent opposition in extremely tense one-goal games.Solo is considered the greatest goalkeeper in women’s soccer history, and she has two Olympic gold medals and a world championship to support that case.Naeher has a World Cup winner’s medal herself, having served as a backup keeper on the 2015 team that defeated Japan for the USWNT’s third world championship. But just as she was in Solo’s shadow then, the knowledge that Solo still could have been playing in goal at age 37 has haunted the U.S. team, and mostly Naeher.She played this one with exceptional confidence, though. With the U.S. ahead in the 33rd minute shortly after the second goal, England midfielder Keira Walsh got a bit of space and felt comfortable firing from well above the penalty area. It was a shot so sweetly placed toward the far corner it required an extraordinary save to stop it. And that’s what Naeher delivered, pushing it beyond the post.When England earned a dangerous free kick from the right side in the 50th minute, midfielder Beth Mead sent in a beautiful ball to the far post, with teammate Millie Bright in position to play it. Bright chose to head the ball back into traffic, and when it deflected off U.S. midfielder Julie Ertz toward White, Naeher alertly covered her flimsy attempt at an overhead kick.And when she was needed most, she delivered. She was as much a spectator as any other American soccer lover as the United States rolled through first couple games at the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup. Alyssa Naeher’s name was called so rarely during victories over Thailand and Chile it still was possible to be confused about how exactly to pronounce itSay it with us now: It’s “Nair.” (Getty Images) https://images.daznservices.com/di/library/sporting_news/2c/69/uswnt-naeher-070219-getty-ftrjpg_bft68uhcb6pf1rezv4sncjc14.jpg?t=-1259440909&w=500&quality=80 “I just took a few deep breaths and tried to focus,” Naeher told Fox Sports. “I got a pep talk from Christen Press about six months ago, I need to be more positive on penalty kicks, just relax and let instincts take over, so give her some credit for that one, for sure.”The team celebrated that like we celebrate a goal. To be able to feel my teammates’ excitement and joy — they’ve always had my back. and I’ve always had theirs.”If everyone didn’t know that before, they do now.