The United States women’s national team continued their dynasty atop international football on Sunday afternoon, picking up a 2-0 win over the Netherlands to win the World Cup for the fourth time in the nation’s history. Goals by Megan Rapinoe and Rose Lavelle lifted the Americans to victory at Parc Olympique Lyonnais in France.
For much of the first half, the Americans appeared to struggle with compactness of the Dutch. While the USWNT dominated possession, they looked to attack the Netherlands down the wings, opting for Rapinoe and Tobin Heath to get in behind the fullbacks and fire in crosses. It was a good way to approach a team that looked to gum up the center of the park, but it did not lead to any goals for the game’s first 45 minutes.
It also didn’t help that Dutch keeper Sari van Veenendaal was gigantic in the first half, accruing four saves when the American attack was able to find space to get off opportunities.
The best opportunities for the USWNT came late in the half. Multiple chances to test van Veenendaal popped up, but Julie Ertz and, on two occasions, Alex Morgan were unable to produce the moment of magic necessary to beat a keeper on the top of their game.
Following some nervy moments at the close of the half that came from the Dutch operating in the American box, the two sides went into the locker room tied at zero. Upon returning to the pitch, the game played out much of the same way: The Dutch stayed compact, the Americans tried to break them down, and despite their best efforts, just couldn’t quite break things open.
But in the 58th minute, the golden opportunity finally came. A ball was played into Morgan in the box, and while she was unable to get to it, Dutch defender Stefanie van der Gragt stuck her foot up in a dangerous position, making contact with Morgan’s arm. A corner was originally called, but after it was reviewed by the official, a penalty kick was given.
Rapinoe stood over the ball, made van Veenendaal lean in the wrong direction, froze the keeper, and gave the Americans the lead.
The USWNT withstood the wave in attack that came in response by the Netherlands, then 10 minutes later, Lavelle produced a moment of individual brilliance to double the American lead. Lavelle went through the Dutch midfield like a hot knife through butter en route to blasting a left footed shot past the keeper.
As has been the case for much of the tournament, the American defense put the clamps on in the game’s final minutes, keeping the Dutch from really testing Alyssa Naeher once they went up. Following five minutes of stoppage time, the official blew her whistle, and the 2-0 win meant the Americans earned the fourth star on their crest. With the win, the USWNT became the second team to ever win back-to-back World Cups, while their record for the most times winning the tournament grew by one.