The United States women’s national team took on the Netherlands in the final of the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup. The U.S. came out in a 4-3-3 formation while the Dutch changed up their typical lineup and showed up in a 4-4-2. The first half remained scoreless on both sides — a very uncharacteristic move from the U.S. team. The second half proved the turning point with two goals. With one from Megan Rapinoe on a penalty kick and one from Rose Lavelle, the USWNT took home its fourth star with a 2-0 final score.
The USWNT might be taking home the trophy for the second year in a row, but it’s not hard to question whether or not it deserves to take it home. After an overall flat performance by the team Sunday, here’s why its win isn’t all too great:
A lackluster performance from Megan Rapinoe
The forward was seen back in the lineup over Christen Press, who scored in the semifinal game and helped send them to the finals. Making an appearance excited fans; however, Rapinoe, who scored the majority of the goals in the knockout round, was missing from several crucial plays in the Dutch box. Either trailing behind or giving the ball away, Rapinoe did not show up for this final game.
A poor passing game
The USWNT is no stranger to being out passed by others team — the game against England is a perfect example. The final matchup of the tournament is no exception to this either. The Dutch didn’t necessarily out pass the USWNT, but they were able to intercept poor passes from the U.S. The team struggled to keep the ball, especially in the middle of the field with the likes of Danielle van de Donk and her challenging slide tackles. The U.S. only had 53% of possession to the Netherlands’ 47%, giving away many balls due to lazy passes.
The USWNT didn’t play like a winning team
The USWNT defense was not tested as much in this game as the one against England, but IT still managed to make very crucial mistakes. Between Abby Dahlkemper’s yellow card at the top of the box to not clearing balls efficiently, they made mistakes that could have cost them the game. The offensive side didn’t do much better than the defensive, either. With players not making runs for great crosses from Tobin Heath, there were many missed opportunities to score early in the game. The team as a whole didn’t play with the passion and spunk that has been seen in earlier games.
Nonetheless, the USWNT cannot completely be discredited for the game. There were many moments that stood out, and here are some of the reasons they pulled out the win Sunday:
The connection between Tobin Heath and Kelley O’Hara
Heath and O’Hara dominated the right flank from goal post to goal post. From just genuinely connecting well to their passing play, these two players were completely in sync with one another. The way they played today alone is a reason why the USWNT deserved to win the game. Their connection allowed for great balls into the box for chances that just were not finished.
The beautiful goal from Rose Lavelle
Lavelle is a newcomer to the team — this being her first major tournament from coming on to the team in 2017. Though her goal was after Rapinoe’s penalty kick goal, Lavelle’s goal was well shot and well deserved from the newbie on the team. Her footwork and ability to strike from long distances combined perfectly for the goal. It was one of the few goals from the U.S. in knockout rounds that was genuinely well deserved and not from a set piece.
The women worked their butts off to come back after the 2016 Olympics
Fresh off a third World Cup win back in 2015, the USWNT was a fan favorite in the 2016 Olympics. However, those expectations fell short when the team lost in the first knockout round. Coming off that loss, the pressure was heavy to have the young team ready to face the best of the best. The women put the time and effort in and got knocked down many times, but every time, they came back up and performed better than before. They worked their way through the tournament, and, ultimately, won even when the odds were against them.
All in all, arguments can be made for both sides of whether or not the game they played in the final deserved the win. But they beat a lot of odds and brought home the fourth star for the U.S., which we don’t think anyone is complaining about.