The United States Women’s Soccer Team completed their title defense after beating the Netherlands 2-0 on Sunday, July 7. This win gives them their fourth World Cup title. This is also their third consecutive World Cup final appearance. Furthermore, this is the second consecutive World Cup where they never trailed their opponents. Team USA were heavy favorites coming into the match, as they came in with a perfect record of 6-0. This included their opening game against Thailand, where they blew them out 13-0.
U.S. features a frontline filled with skilled attackers and distributors. Megan Rapinoe and teammate Alex Morgan shared a combined 11 goals in all games leading up to the Final. The next leading scorer after them is Carli Lloyd with only three goals. Their stout defense and high work rate as a team makes them a matchup nightmare. The Netherlands Women’s team came into this tournament as the European champion. The Dutch employed a “Christmas Tree” formation, which took away space from the Americans to work on offense. Their defense was anchored by Sari van Veenendaal. The 29-year-old goalkeeper had 20 saves for the game.
Still tied at 0-0 by halftime, the game was approaching a stalemate. The Americans stayed aggressive on offense despite not having scored all game, and managed more shots on goal by a score of 10-1. In the 61st minute, Netherlands’ defender Stephanie van der Gragt fouled U.S. striker Alex Morgan, setting up the Americans with the chance to draw first blood. Megan Rapinoe, who for much of the World Cup played like a Golden Boot candidate, took care of business putting the U.S. up 1-0. Later on, in the 69th minute, Rose Lavelle sliced one down the middle extending the U.S. lead to two. That would be the last goal scored all game, as the Dutch were shut out.
The Americans collected a lot of hardware during their journey. Rapinoe earned the Golden Ball for best player, and the Golden Boot for top scorer with 6 goals. Morgan who was tied with Rapinoe for most goals, was awarded with the Silver Boot. Controversies aside, this was another great performance by an American squad far removed from their 2011 defeat in Germany. As the U.S. men’s team plays catch up with the rest of the world, it is the women who are giving us the golden blueprint.