The USWNT will take on the Netherlands, aka the reigning champions of Europe, at 11 AM for a shot at back-to-back FIFA Women’s World Cup Titles. The below fact sheet was compiled thanks to ussoccer.com and USWNT’s website. A more detailed list of quick-hitters can be found here, also courtesy of USWNT.
- USWNT are appearing in record-setting third-straight Women’s World Cup (WWC) finals match (Norway ’91,’95 and Germany ’03,’07 are only other two nations to appear in consecutive WWC finals)
- Only two other countries (both men and women) have reached 3-straight World Cup finals – West Germany (’82, ’86, ’90) and Brazil (’94, ’98, ’02)
- Today marks the 5th overall WWC finals appearance for USWNT (Germany is next best with 3)
- USWNT hope to win 4th WWC title today (only nation to win 3 WWC titles)
- USWNT will look to become back-to-back WWC champions for first time in nation’s history (Germany only other nation to do so ’03, ’07)
- Only two other countries (both men and women) have won back-to-back World Cup titles – Italy ’34, ’38 (before a 12-year hiatus thanks to World War II) and Brazil 58′, 62′
- USWNT have won 11-straight WWC matches and are unbeaten over their last 16 (11-straight WWC wins is a new record)
- USWNT have never finished worse than 3rd place since the WWC’s inception in 1991
- USWNT have 9 different goal scorers – need just one more goal scorer to tie ’99 USWNT and ’03 Germany team for most goal scorers in a WWC
- USWNT Head Coach Jill Ellis fielded a roster with 11 first-time WWC participants – 3 more than the 2015 USWNT team
- The Netherlands sit in 8th according to the latest FIFA World Rankings and 4th in the latest UEFA (European) rankings
- The Netherlands have won only once against USWNT in seven matches, losing the other six (1-6-0 v. USWNT all-time)
- Most recently, the Netherlands were crowned champions of Europe (2017 UEFA Women’s Championship title, 4-2 win over Denmark)
- Prior to winning the 2017 UEFA Championship, the Netherlands qualified just twice – ’09, ’13
- The Netherlands have never qualified for an Olympic Games
- The Netherlands barely qualified for the 2019 WWC (2-leg playoff against Switzerland)
Flashback to Frankfurt, Germany in 2011. Back then, Pia Sundhage claimed the title of USWNT Head Coach. Sundhage, on her way to winning the 2012 FIFA Women’s World Coach of the Year award, coached the USWNT to a finals match-up against a gritty and determined Japanese team.
Four months prior to that 2011 WWC finals clash, a catastrophic 9.0 magnitude earthquake shook Japan causing apocalyptic sized tsunamis crashing onto Japanese coastlines and roughly $200 billion of damage along with it. Japan placed their nation on their backs that day and defeated the USWNT in penalty kicks. Abby Wambach was the lone converter at the PK spot while Carli Lloyd, Tobin Heath, and Shannon Box failed to find the back of the net.
That was the first of three straight WWC finals appearances for the USWNT.
Fast forward four years to 2015. By now, Sundhage had decided to bring her whistle back across the pond to her native Sweden and in stepped England-born Jill Ellis as head coach. The WWC took place in Canada with the final match-up occurring in British Columbia. Ellis would coach the USWNT to a resounding 5-2 revenge victory over who other than Japan.
That day, Lloyd and the USWNT found the back of the net alright. The Delran Township native netted an incredible hat trick before the 17th minute of action scoring in the 3rd, 5th, and 16th minutes. Lauren Holiday scored in the 14th minute as well which suffocated any chance Japan ever had in the match.
Lloyd won the Golden Ball award along with the Silver Boot award tying Germany’s Celia Sasic with six goals all tournament.
That was the second of three straight WWC finals appearances.
And now today is the third. And it’s a chance for the USWNT to win back-to-back titles. But it won’t be easy.
The Netherlands won all three group stage matches while scoring six goals and allowing just two against. They ousted the always difficult Japan in the Round of 16 and then followed that up with two clean sheet victories – first a convincing 2-0 win over Italy in the quarters with a 1-0 extra-time victory to follow against Sweden in the semis.
The 99th minute became the moment of sweet relief for the Netherlands in that match-up against Sweden. The semi-final clash was destined for yet another brutal display of penalty kicks deciding monumental matches. But 24-year midfielder Jackie Groenen blasted home a right-footed shot from atop the box to send Sweden home.
The Netherlands can easily fulfill the role of underdog today. But for USWNT, it’s more of the same. If the USWNT can find a way to make the mark early, and the rest of the match should slide in their direction. But if the Dutch grab hold of the match, their momentum could skyrocket. After all, the Netherlands just barely squeaked through into this tournament.
So why not try and win the whole thing? Time will tell, but Lloyd, Alex Morgan, Julie Ertz, and company will have their hands full.
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Mandatory Credit: Michael Chow-USA TODAY Sports