Sports

The USWNT Came Out On Top On Penalties In An Olympic Quarterfinal Battle Against The Netherlands

Back in 2019, the United States and the Netherlands squared off in the final of the Women’s World Cup, with the Americans coming out on top, 2-0. The two sides met up again on Friday in the quarterfinal of the Tokyo Olympics, and despite needing penalties, the U.S. picked up another win.

The United States looked to be on the front foot for much of the start of the game, with a pair of excellent chances generated that did not lead to goals. A headed effort by Lindsey Horan was denied by Dutch keeper Sari van Veenendaal, while Tobin Heath scored but was narrowly ruled offside.

In classic football fashion, this early dominance by the U.S. led to the Netherlands scoring first. Vivianne Miedema busted out an incredible bit of skill in the box to free up enough space to put her right foot through the ball, which ended up beating American netminder Alyssa Naeher.

It took 10 minutes for the Americans to serve up a response, thanks in large part to the heroics of Lynn Williams, a surprise inclusion in the starting XI who took advantage of her first Olympic start in a big way. Williams was able to get the ball onto her left foot and fizzed in a cross that Sam Mewis met with her head to beat van Veenendaal, and three minutes later, Williams got the ball onto her right foot and found the back of the net.

The Dutch weathered the storm to the half, though, and less than 10 minutes into the second frame, Miedema struck again. The Dutch forward’s effort to play a ball into the box was denied by Abby Dahlkemper, but the ball fell fortuitously to Miedema’s feet. She lined up a shot from outside of the box and once again slotted one past Naeher.

A narrow offside ruling after a lengthy VAR review saw Christen Press’ goal to put the United States ahead taken off the board, and then, disaster struck. Kelley O’Hara fouled Lineth Beerensteyn in the box, conceding a penalty that gave Lieke Martens a chance to put the Dutch ahead.

Fortunately for the Americans, Martens’ effort was not her best, and Naeher was able to deny her from the spot in a hint of what would come a little bit later in the proceedings.

Both teams generated chances for the rest of the second half and all of extra time, with a trio of goals — one by the Netherlands, two by the U.S. (their eighth and ninth of the tournament, respectively) — getting wiped off the board via offside ruling. But ultimately, neither Naeher nor van Veenendaal allowed a goal, setting up penalties for a spot in the semifinal.

The Dutch stepped up to the spot first but could not take advantage, as Miedema got denied by Naeher.

Rose Lavelle began things for the Americans and took advantage, beating van Veenendaal and putting the Americans on the front foot. That advantage stood through rounds two and three of penalties, and then, Naeher came up huge again. The Netherlands sent Aniek Nouwen up to take the team’s fourth PK, but Naeher made the save.

And then, Megan Rapinoe stepped up, and as she’s wont to due, the American legend rifled her penalty past van Veenendaal to put the United States through to the semis.

With the win, the U.S. set itself up for a semifinal showdown with continental rivals Canada. The two sides most recently played in February in the SheBelieves Cup, with the Americans coming out on top, 1-0, and in 2012, the teams squared off in an Olympic classic, with the United States picking up a 4-3 win in extra time.

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