The United States women’s national soccer team is set to take on the Netherlands in the final round of the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup. The two teams have met seven times, with the USWNT winning six out of the seven games. After both winning their groups in the early stages of the tournament, knocking out fan favorites such as Canada and France, the teams are set to meet again for the first time since 2016. Here’s what viewers should expect from the matchup on Sunday:
The top dog vs. the underdog
The early exit from the USWNT in the 2016 Olympics still lingers over the heads of the team and fans alike — as this is its chance for redemption. Ranked number one in the world, the USWNT has been a fan favorite to win the World Cup and bring home a fourth star. The Netherlands has been a major underdog of the tournament, ranked eighth. After barely qualifying for the tournament, this is only its second appearance at the World Cup — the first being in the 2015 World Cup with an early exit in the round of 16. The Dutch team has been dubbed the underdog of the tournament and should not be counted out because both teams are going into Sunday’s match confident.
Julie Ertz vs. Danielle van de Donk
Since her move up to a holding midfielder position, Ertz has been a force to be reckoned with. She was a major influence in the game against England, stopping their passing game in the midfield, which forced England out to the wings. Danielle van de Donk, who has been with the Netherlands’ national team since 2010, is a spunky and creative midfielder who isn’t afraid to pack some punches. She is known for some challenging slide tackles as well as her footwork and ability to take the ball to the goal. The matchup between Ertz and Donk will be one to watch.
Megan Rapinoe back in the starting lineup
After the starting lineup was announced for the game against England, fans were in a frenzy: Megan Rapinoe was not in it. Instead, she was replaced by Christen Press, a player that hasn’t seen much time on the field in this World Cup. No comment was made as to why Rapinoe was benched before the game, but it was later confirmed it was due to a slight hamstring injury. Rapinoe has scored the most goals for the USWNT in the knockout stages and is in the running for the golden boot — just behind Alex Morgan and England’s Ellen White, who both have 6 goals. While it is not confirmed that she will be starting, Rapinoe has said that she is ready to go for Sunday’s final.
Vivianne Miedema might give Alyssa Naeher a run for her money
Miedema, who is just 22 years old, has become the all-time top goal scorer for the Netherlands. Making her debut for the national team at 17 years old, the striker has had 80 international appearances with 61 goals. This tournament, she has 25 attempted goals and has scored three times, one coming off her right foot and two with her head. She would need a spectacular game to truly be in the running for the golden boot. However, she is still a player to watch. USWNT goalie Alyssa Naeher will have her hands full trying to keep Miedema from scoring.
For the first time since 2003, the finals will see two female head coaches
Jill Ellis has been the head coach of the USWNT team since 2014. She has led the team to many victories including the 2015 World Cup. Ellis will be taking on the Netherlands, coached by Sarina Wiegman, who has been leading the team since 2016. Formerly a coach at UCLA, Ellis has a few more years experience on Wiegman, but for that gap in experience, Wiegman makes up for it as a former Dutch player. The Netherlands coach hasn’t been with the team for long but has made a big turnaround to the program and even won the European Championship in 2017. Fans can expect Ellis to make changes while Wiegman, who doesn’t have as deep of a bench, will stick to her current starters. All gameplay aside, this is the first time since 2003 that the finals will see two female head coaches — an amazing moment for the sports world.
The FIFA Women’s World Cup finals airs Sunday at 11 a.m. on Fox.