The USWNT Face One More Tough Test in Women's World Cup Final: The Netherlands

By Jeff Weisinger
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The U.S. Women’s National Team wasn’t challenged during the group stage of the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup. The Americans faced some adversity during knockout round wins against Spain, France, and then England. But entering Sunday’s Final, they’ll be truly tested for the first time when they take on The Netherlands (11 a.m. ET, FOX).

Yes, the Netherlands, team nobody really talked about entering the tournament and which is ranked eighth in the FIFA Women’s rankings. A team that — like the USWNT — ran through its group stage and survived the gauntlet of its knockout round matches to reach the Final. The Dutch is possibly the one team in this tournament that can go stride for stride and blow for blow with the U.S.

The Netherlands might not have gotten the fanfare or attention the United States, France, Germany, or even England enjoyed entering the tournament, but the Dutch are incredibly entering the Final.

Since reaching the semifinals at Euro 2009, the Oranje have been on a tear. They debuted in the 2015 Women’s World Cup, reaching the Round of 16 and went unbeaten en route to the 2017 European Championship.

In this tournament, the Netherlands has allowed just one goal in the knockout rounds, shutting out Italy and Sweden in back-to-back matches to get to the Final. The Dutch also enter Sunday’s Final riding a 257-minute shutout streak. The team’s only conceded goal came against the 2011 Women’s World Cup champion Japan in the Round of 16 – a match the Dutch won 2-1.

Of any opponent in this tournament, the United States needs to respect what the Netherlands brings to the pitch. The Dutch are not at all scared of the “big, bad, and arrogant” USWNT as they’ve been labeled. The Americans have had their fun en route to the final, but Sunday has to be all business with the trophy on the line.

Most of the Netherlands starting XI were a part of the team that won the 2017 European Championship. Much like the U.S., the Dutch are fast in the attacking third and physical one the defensive end and in the midfield.

The Dutch and the Americans haven’t played each other in a Women’s World Cup. Both teams last faced off in a friendly back in September 2016, a match that the USWNT won 3-1. The Netherlands haven’t defeated the U.S. since 1991.

The USWNT is the clear favorite entering the match, but the Netherlands isn’t going to go down easy.

But both countries are facing destiny and dynasty on Sunday.

For the USWNT, it’s a chance at a record fourth Women’s World Cup title and a chance to become the first team since Germany (2003, 07) to win back-to-back titles. For a player like Alex Morgan, it’s a chance to establish herself as one of the greatest players in USWNT history, putting her name in American soccer lore with others like Mia Hamm, Hope Solo, and Brandi Chastain.

For the Netherlands, it’ll be an upset of the ages, the lone European team standing taking down the “big, bad, and arrogant” Americans, ending a perfect run since their 2017 European Championship. Their tournament run has already captured their nation. Now they just need to capture the trophy.

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