31 mins: Smith may think she was fouled, but truthfully, she held the ball far too long.
But the US regain possession, DeMelo is fouled, and Sullivan is lined up to take a free kick 45 yards out. She sends it square to Girma, and the young center back floats it into the box, where it’s knocked out for a corner.
30 min: The Dutch complete another 4,500 passes on either side of midfield. It’s vaguely mesmerizing.
Then they get it ahead, but the key pass just isn’t there.
And here comes Smith the other way …
29 mins: Ertz leaps onto a player’s back to win a header, but the Dutch keep possession. Rodman tries to clear, but Janssen has come forward and rips a one-time shot that nestles in the top of the net.
27 mins: Now Andi Sullivan gets a lecture after leaving her foot in a belligerent place. None of these fouls either way are bad, as such, but they’re aggravatingly frequent.
24 mins: Another promising possession for the Dutch. Then a truly needless foul, with Snoeijs tugging at Dunn’s shirt like she’s trying to get her attention to buy her a piece of candy at the boardwalk.
And another foul draws a lecture, as Brugts bangs into Fox. Not too much in it, really.
Then another foul … are they serious? The US usually get favorable calls, but the Dutch are making it impossible for our referee NOT to blow the whistle.
The world feed shows us that Roord’s goal was 17.3 meters. OK then.
22 mins: Morgan gets her head to the corner, but not in any sort of controlled fashion.
Joe Pearson has a shirt question: “As I watched a pre-match feature on Alex Morgan, there was a clip of the red and white hoops jersey with blue shorts. Can we make this the classic USA uniform? Please!? All the great international teams have iconic unis. Why not this one for the USA?”
Because we have to sell new shirts every few months. (Sorry, promised not to be cynical. In any case, I liked the 1994 denim stars shirt.)
21 mins: You can’t give this US team a lot of chances from set pieces. They earn a corner, and Julie Ertz makes the long walk up the field, where she can be very dangerous.
20 mins: The Netherlands are now passing around just beyond midfield rather than in their own half. Must have gained some confidence there.
Oh, wait, now they’re back in their own half.
Mary Waltz checks in from California: “Beau, greetings from California. You promised not to be too ‘cynical’ about the US coverage of the WC. I will be cynical for you. I am rooting so hard for the US women and am so proud of them. But the wall to wall, All USWT all the time coverage by Fox makes me ill. It’s the WORLD Cup, I would actually like to learn about the other squads in the event. At least 50% of every single minute of Fox coverage is about the US squad. What happens if they lose in the knockout round?”
19 mins: CHANCE for the US to equalize immediately, with Rodman letting fly from medium-long range. It’s well-saved, and the ensuing corner comes to naught.
Martens plays wide right, and the play seems to be lost. But the US fail to clear, and Pelova plays it back to Roord at the top of the box. She settles, goes for placement over power, and it’s 1-0. A lovely finish.
16 mins: The Dutch continue to play keepaway in their own half. Oh, wait, it goes forward to Martens, and …
14 mins: Our referee is setting a tone early. Quit fouling. As a referee myself, albeit about 200 levels lower, I like it.
A US free kick from about 45 or 50 yards out goes about 50 or 55 yards without touching anyone.
13 mins: We have a Dutch player down while her teammates continue the attack. It’s Martens. She straggles to her feet eventually.
Remember when teams would play the ball out to take care of injured players?
12 mins: Not sure if Dunn meant to shoot that or thread it to Morgan. Either way, it’s deflected and collected by the keeper.
11 mins: Another 4,000 or so completed passes in their own half for the Netherlands. They cross midfield and complete maybe two more before losing it.
I’m calling it now. 2-0 US.
9 mins: You can tell that the US has a bit more concern about the Dutch attack than it did about Vietnam’s. They aren’t flooding forward as recklessly, and one attack breaks down for a lack of numbers.
But they’re picking their spots, and they’re starting to get some half-chances. DeMelo puts a shot wide, and Rodman comes close to swiping the ball from Dutch keeper van Domselaar.
8 mins: Andi Sullivan commits the first US foul. The Dutch respond by taking their free kick backwards and completing roughly 4,000 passes in their own half. Impressive, but that’s not going to win the game.
6 mins: Did I hear a whistle? Did someone in the Dutch defense hear a whistle? Or did they just let a diagonal ball from Crystal Dunn get too close to Alex Morgan for no reason?
5 mins: To illustrate the point, Emily Fox turns and finds herself face-to-face with Brugts. Fox simply knocks the ball past the young Dutch midfielder and sprints past her. Brugts stops her with what the NFL would call a “horse-collar tackle.” Our referee would call it a foul.
4 mins: The Dutch are pressing early. So far, the US is coping with it pretty well.
3 mins: The ball is played down the left, where Alex Morgan is unusually placed. She centers, and it’s a bit awkward for the Dutch defense here.
1 min: A Dutch player accidentally kicks the ball into her own face. We don’t know who, because the world TV feed had other priorities. We presume she’s OK.
Kickoff, and Alyssa Naeher gets her first touch early. It’s breezy in Wellington.
Our referee here is Japan’s Yoshimi Yamashita, who has already made history as the first referee to offer an audio explanation of a VAR call in a major international match. She also served as a fourth official at men’s World Cup games in 2022.
As you prepare to watch one of the best teams in Europe face off against the US, you may be wondering how you can keep tabs on action on both sides of the Atlantic. You may prefer to get that news and analysis from one of the world’s best writers on the global game. Good news. You can get Jonathan’s Wilson’s email newsletter for free.
Let’s take a quick look at the US women’s group-stage history to put this game in perspective …
Not surprisingly, they’ve won most of the group-stage games in their history. But not all, and a wayward result in an early game doesn’t necessarily spell disaster down the road.
In 1995, the defending champions drew China but still won the group on their way to a semifinal loss against once-mighty Norway.
In 2007, the US drew 2-2 against North Korea. That may come as a surprise to people who’ve read the revisionist histories suggesting that Hope Solo had kept a string of clean sheets before being benched in the semifinals that year, where Brazil annihilated the US 4-0. (No, Solo wouldn’t have won that game for them. At best, maybe 3-0 instead of 4-0.)
In 2011, the US lost 2-1 to Sweden. They still made the final after surviving one of the greatest games in their history, advancing on penalties after a 2-2 draw forged by That Pass from Megan Rapinoe to Abby Wambach against Brazil. The great Homare Sawa led Japan to victory in the final.
In 2015, the US against faced Sweden. This time, they drew 0-0. Still won the Cup.
They actually faced Sweden again in 2019, but the third time was the charm, as the US won 2-0.
Obviously, the US wants to win the group and get a more favorable matchup in the round of 16, especially now that the World Cup features maybe six or seven teams who could beat them on any given day. But this isn’t a must-win. A loss or draw could actually be a learning experience for this young team.
The Guardian network’s profile writer, Steven Kooijman, says coach Andries Jonker ditched the 4-3-3 to run with a 5-3-2 with wingbacks. Today’s formation is listed as a 3-5-2, but the difference between a 5-3-2 and 3-5-2 is really a question of attitude, isn’t it?
Forward Lineth Beerensteyn will miss this game with an injury. Vivianne Miedema, sadly, will miss this entire tournament. Miedema ranked sixth in The Guardian’s most recent listing of the top 100 players in the world.
GK: Daphne van Domselaar (Aston Villa) is No 95 on that top 100.
D: Stefanie van der Gragt, who is retiring after this Cup, has the difficult task of being the lone center back, flanked by Dominique Janssen (Wolfsburg) and the captain, Sherida Spitse (Ajax).
M: You can call Victoria Pelova (Arsenal), Esmee Brugts (free agent at age 19) “midfielders” or you can call them “wing-backs.” Probably depends on how the game is going. Attacking force Jill Roord (Manchester City) and Danielle van de Donk (Lyon) are 60th and 75th on The Guardian’s list, and they’re joined today by box-to-box midfielder Jackie Groenen (PSG).
F: Katja Snoeijs (Everton) wins the honor of playing alongside Lieke Martens (PSG), who’s ranked No 42 on The Guardian’s list.
US Soccer notes that only four players in the starting XI also started the 2019 World Cup final – goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher, left back Crystal Dunn, center mid/center back Julie Ertz, and forward Alex Morgan.
Today, I happened to bump into a soccer coach I know who lives here but comes from the Netherlands. He would bench all four of those players. I reminded him that USWNT coaches who bench veterans tend to become former USWNT coaches very quickly.
The captain is once again midfielder Lindsey Horan, who’s joined in midfield against by Andi Sullivan and the inexperienced but talented Savannah DeMelo, whose first start (and second cap) as a US player was against Vietnam.
Naomi Girma anchors the back line, where Ertz may need to join her from time to time rather than spending as much of the game forward as she did against Vietnam. Emily Fox is the right back.
The prodigies, Sophia Smith and Trinity Rodman, flank Morgan up front.
But first, I’m being asked for my thoughts on US Soccer president Cindy Parlow Cone …
I first met her in 1998? 1997? Somewhere in that vicinity? I was covering the NCAA women’s soccer tournament. She was utterly dominant.
Since her playing days, she has coached at the pro level and served in many capacities in US Soccer.
During her presidency, she has overseen a budget bailout that her critics will say went too far or was misguided. Cutting the Development Academy (which was really a league rather than an academy) was a controversial move, though a lot of people – especially in girls soccer – found the DA was too overbearing.
She played a vital role in settling the US women’s lawsuit and reaching a new CBA that has pleased both teams. But did she give the teams too much? People working at the grassroots, where US Soccer seriously needs to spend, would say yes. But did she have a choice? Given the one-sided pressure from the media, which has little empathy for players once they become “management” (even if they’re unpaid volunteers, which the president is), maybe not.
Does that answer your question, more or less?
Happy to take anyone else’s thoughts on the matter, but I’d also rather talk about the game (the US lineup is out, and it’s unchanged from the first game) or whether Golden Earring is the best band ever to hail from the Netherlands.
Howdy everyone. Glad to be here for another session of commentary, and I promise not to be too cynical about the way the US women’s national team and Women’s World Cup broadcasts are marketed.
Yes, it’s a rematch. But that matters less than taking care of business and getting through the group stage.
And both teams have plenty of questions to answer. The US wasn’t really tested against Vietnam, who barely had the ball in the attacking third the whole way. The Netherlands looked unconvincing against Portugal, and injuries may keep a low ceiling on this team’s potential here.
So it’s a rematch third, a test of form second, and “taking care of business” first.
Let’s watch, shall we?
Beau will be here shortly, in the meantime here’s Jeff Kassouf in Wellington with a preview of today’s match:
For nine months, players and coaches from the United States and the Netherlands have deflected questions about the impending rematch of the 2019 World Cup final. For nine months, they stressed that each team had a group stage match to play before they met, and that they would approach the tournament one game at a time.
Now, the moment has arrived, and there is no getting around it: Thursday’s match in Wellington is likely to decide the group winner and, with it, the pathway if the teams are to return to the final. This is the game the teams – and fans around the world – have been anticipating since the World Cup draw in October.
“I’m sure it’s going to be a challenge,” the USA head coach, Vlatko Andonovski, said on Wednesday. “They are a great team, very organized, a very disciplined team. We saw in the first game that they played [a 1-0 victory over Portugal] that they are going to have a threat on every line. But at the same time, I want to say that we’re ready for it. We’ve trained a lot, prepared a lot for this moment and especially this game and we’re excited and looking forward to it.”
You can read the full article below: