LYON, France — A fourth star will be added above the heralded United States Women’s National Team crest.
Once again, the victory came due to every player excelling in a specific role.
Defenders Becky Saurerbrunn and Abby Dahlkemper were solid at the back with a combined eight clearances and seven duels won.
Rose Lavelle and Samantha Mewis dictated play in midfield combining for a goal and an assist.
The USA were kept at bay for the first 45 minutes. Netherlands head coach Sarina Wiegman said before the match that the team would be vigilant and conservative in the opening half. Her team enacted that game plan by playing predominantly defensive and attempting to catch the U.S. out of position on counter-attacks.
Nedtherlands Goalkeeper Sari van Veenendaal was integral in keeping the U.S. scoreless at the half. She made four agile saves in the waning minutes of first half.
The first half went to the U.S. but the score remained 0-0 and a vital member of the team did not return for the second half.
In the final minute of the first-half, right-back Kelly O’Hara collided heads with a Dutch player Lieke Martens.
Defender, Ali Krieger replaced O’Hara to start the second half.
With a substitute on and the score tied head coach Jill Ellis opted to implement a more direct style of play for the final 45 minutes.
Another head injury occurred 10 minutes into the second half.
Defender Becky Sauerbrunn lunged for the ball, with her head, and collided with a Netherlands player. Bloodied but determined, Saurerbrunn returned to the field with a large bandage around her head.
Her teammates seemed inspired by the persistence she showed and minutes later the U.S. pulled ahead.
Stefanie van der Gragt rushed into a high and reckless challenge on Alex Morgan inside the box. After a non-call the head official checked VAR and awarded a penalty.
Megan Rapinoe, who already slotted home two penalties in this tournament, stepped up the spot. She outwitted the goalkeeper and tucked in the penalty with her right foot.
The goal earned Rapinoe the Golden Boot for the most goals scored at the tournament. Her six goals and three assists also saw her win the Golden Ball as the best player in the tournament.
Netherlands immediately pushed numbers forward and left most of the field open which can be a death wish against the U.S.
Every time the Oranje players turned the ball over the U.S. had an ample amount of space to work with going forward.
In the 69th minute Lavelle took advantage of the allotted space.
She received the ball at midfield and dribbled all the way to the top of the box. Not a single Netherlands player closed her out, so she took aim at the bottom right corner and ripped a shot into the net.
The U.S. were exhausted as a whole but minutes away from their 4th Word Cup title.
The Oranje players were also fatigued. They gave everything they had into this tournament and down 2-0 with minutes to go, there was nothing left in the tank.
The final whistle sounded, and all of the U.S. players all gathered in the center of the pitch.
They all knew how monumental this title meant. Every one of those 23 players’ achievements will go down not just in U.S. soccer history, but also world-wide soccer history.
Written by: Caleb Hilliard