Women’s World Cup 2019: 3 takeaways from USWNT’s thrilling win over Netherlands to defend title

In a thrilling final, the United States defended its title to win the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup title and earn a record fourth championship with a 2-0 win over the Netherlands.

The U.S. looked rocky in the first half, but came out strong in the second half to change the course of the game. Netherlands, considered to be a darkhorse in the tournament, proved why it deserved to be in the final.

Here are three takeaways from the USWNT’s win:

Netherlands shook up the U.S.

The Netherlands held its own against the U.S. and really shook up the Americans to start the final of the Women’s World Cup. With so much on the line, Dutch head coach Sarina Wiegman made tactical choices that really threw off the U.S. The Netherlands held them scoreless heading into halftime for the first time in this tournament, but also the first time since January 22.

Between Lineth Beerensteyn and Vivianne Miedema were dangerous on counter attacks throughout the entire game. Then the Netherland’s centerbacks Anouk Dekker and Stefanie van der Gragt handled all the long balls to help goalkeeper Sari van Veenendaal.

Scoring early was the key to the United States’ success entering Sunday’s match, but they simply couldn’t find the back of the net. The Americans had scored six times in the first 12 minutes of every single one of their World Cup matches in France. They had scored in the opening 15 minutes of their last seven games overall, and Sunday’s match marked the first time they didn’t scored in the opening 15 minutes since May 16 in a match against New Zealand.

The U.S. was forced to kick long balls and didn’t try to control the back like they usually do. They did start to have stronger plays closer to the second half as they started to find rhythm.

Dutch goalkeeper Sari van Veenendaal was unreal

The main reason the Netherlands stayed in the match and had a shot at winning the title for much of the game came because of the Netherlands’ goalkeeper Sari van Veenendaal. Simply put: She was amazing.

In the first half alone, she made four big saves. The shots she blocked were extremely difficult ones and were good chances for the U.S. But Veenendaal wasn’t letting any ball get by her.

Just watch for yourself:

She did allow two goals as the U.S. got warmed up in the second half, but that shouldn’t erase her dominant performance.

U.S. made big adjustments coming out of the half

The Americans made big adjustments coming out of halftime. After the Netherlands controlled the tempo for much of the first half with its strong defense, the Americans wasted very little time in the second half making an impact. As the match went on, the U.S. got stronger and stronger.

Veteran star Megan Rapinoe gave the U.S. its first goal in the 61st minute off a penalty kick. She became the oldest player to score in a World Cup final at 34 years old.

Rose Lavelle quickly followed that up with a goal of her own to give the U.S. a 2-0 lead, and ultimately secure the title for the Americans. Lavelle’s goal set a new tournament record for most goals scored at a Women’s World Cup with 26. They were tied with Germany with 25.

And with that, the U.S. did it. They reached their fourth World Cup title to continue the Americans’ dominance on the international stage.

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