Megan Rapinoe, Alex Morgan and co. will get a chance to prove they’re the best in the world against the European champions.
The United States women’s national team defeated England on Tuesday to make its third straight World Cup final, and now we know its opponent. The Americans will face off against the Netherlands as they try to repeat as World Cup champions.
When is the World Cup final and where can I watch it?
You can watch the USWNT take on the Netherlands on Sunday, July 7. The game kicks off at 11 am ET from Parc Olympique Lyonnais in Lyon, France, and can be seen on FOX and Telemundo in the United States.
The USWNT is battling injury problems
Star winger Megan Rapinoe, who has five goals so far in the World Cup, sat out the semifinal against England with a hamstring strain. Rapinoe says that her injury is minor and that she’ll be ready to play on Sunday, but USWNT manager Jill Ellis has been handed a tough selection dilemma. Christen Press played well in Rapinoe’s place, scoring a goal and turning in an excellent defensive performance.
Rose Lavelle has also picked up a minor hamstring injury, and like Rapinoe, says she will suit up for the final. However, Lavelle has a long history of hamstring injuries, so expect Ellis to turn to Sam Mewis to replace Lavelle.
Alex Morgan will need to be the star, and has a chance to cement her legacy
There’s nothing Alex Morgan hasn’t won in her career. She’s a World Cup champion, an Olympic gold medalist, a Champions League winner, a WPS champion and an NWSL champion. She’s scored 107 goals for the national team, been named the best player in North America four times, and made the FIFPro World XI.
But with tournament-leading 6 goals, she’s on track to add another accolade to that list — a World Cup golden boot.
That golden boot, and perhaps a golden ball to go along with it, would eliminate any doubts about her place among the best players of all time. She’s been as important to her teams as Mia Hamm and Abby Wambach were to theirs. On Sunday, she could get the individual hardware to prove it.
Julie Ertz vs. Danielle van de Donk is the matchup to watch
Rapinoe, Morgan and the American back line have gotten most of the publicity during this World Cup, but Ertz has been doing some serious work on the DL. Usually an all-action wrecking ball of a defensive midfielder, Ertz has been playing a more disciplined role during the knockout stage, and it’s paying off.
England’s first-half touches, or…guess where Julie Ertz plays… pic.twitter.com/Ia04RU8w8H
— Paul Carr (@PaulCarr) July 2, 2019
In the final, she’ll be matched up directly against Danielle van de Donk, the playmaker who set up the Netherlands’ goal in their 1-0 victory over Sweden in the semifinal. With former FIFA world player of the year Lieke Martens picking up a knock on Wednesday and Shanice van de Sanden struggling for form on the other wing, the Netherlands will be heavily reliant on van de Donk to create their scoring chances. It’ll be up to Ertz to stop her from getting the ball in dangerous spots.
It doesn’t get better than the defending champs vs. the European champs
If the USWNT wins on Sunday, they will have gone through the most difficult stretch of opponents that anyone has had to go through to win a World Cup. It had to, successively, defeat:
- Sweden, who went on to make the semifinals on the other side of the bracket
- Spain, considered the world’s best up-and-coming women’s soccer nations after regularly outperforming the United States at youth World Cups
- France, the hosts, who have the core of the team that has won six of the last nine Champions League titles
- England, the No. 3 ranked team in the world and winners of the SheBelieves Cup in March
- The Netherlands, who are the reigning European champions
France and England were considered to be tougher opponents than the Netherlands coming into the tournament, and the Oranje’s struggles to score in the semifinal don’t inspire confidence that they can pull off an upset. But they are, nonetheless, the reigning champions of Europe, and beating them would be another feather in the USWNT’s now very bird-like cap.