With the World Cup final on tap, here’s a quick look at the Netherlands team that will try to halt the United States’ quest for its fourth title (11 a.m. Eastern time, Fox).
How the Netherlands got here
Group stage: Defeated New Zealand, 1-0; defeated Cameroon, 3-1; defeated Canada, 2-1.
Round of 16: Defeated Japan, 2-1.
Quarterfinals: Defeated Italy, 2-0.
Semifinals: Defeated Sweden, 1-0.
Record vs. USWNT: 1-6-0. The two sides aren’t all that familiar with each other, last meeting in September 2016 (a 3-1 USWNT win in Atlanta). The only Netherlands victory in the series came in the first meeting in 1991 (a 4-3 victory on Dutch soil).
The coach: Sarina Wiegman
Wiegman has at least a passing familiarity with American soccer thanks to her one season at North Carolina in 1989. She was named to the all-ACC team and helped the Tar Heels — also featuring U.S. legends such as Mia Hamm and Kristine Lilly — to a 24-0-1 record and the seventh of their 21 national titles. Wiegman then had a long career as a player for the Netherlands national team before becoming a club coach and then, in 2017, the national team coach, leading it to the 2017 European Championship title on home soil. Since she was appointed manager, the Netherlands is unbeaten and untied in 12 games.
Players to watch
Shanice van de Sanden, forward
Much like U.S. Coach Jill Ellis did with Megan Rapinoe in their semifinal against England, Wiegman left van de Sanden on the bench at the start of the Netherlands’ semifinal against Sweden even though she had started the previous five games of the tournament and even though the Dutch largely had used the same starting 11 for nearly two years. A club star for Lyon, van de Sanden has had little impact on the tournament, though she came on in the 71st minute against Sweden and gave the team some fresh legs. It’ll be something of a surprise if she again isn’t in the starting lineup.
Lieke Martens, forward
Named MVP of Euro 2017 and then FIFA women’s player of the year a few months later, Martens’s World Cup was going strong until the very end of the Netherlands’ win over Japan in the round of 16. While celebrating the late penalty kick she converted that would give the Dutch a 2-1 win, teammate Jill Roord accidentally stepped on her foot. Martens played only the first half before being subbed out but hopes to play the full game Sunday with a few more days of rest. Her presence will be crucial: Only two players on the Dutch roster have more international experience than Martens’s 109 caps.
Vivianne Miedema, forward
Miedema has added three goals to her career tally in France, becoming the Netherlands’ all-time leading scorer in the process, quite the accomplishment for someone who’s only 22 years old. She seems to save her best work for the most crucial games: Miedema has scored in four of the Netherlands’ last six knockout-stage games, including twice against Denmark in the Euro 2017 final. One of the tournament’s tallest players at 5-feet-9, Miedema’s presence in the air and with her head gives opposing defenses fits. Just witness her goal against Italy in the quarterfinals:
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