U.S. women’s soccer team plays for a fourth World Cup title against the Netherlands

The United States will be vying for its fourth Women’s World Cup title when it meets European champion the Netherlands on Sunday.

The U.S. is the defending champion, while the Dutch women are appearing in their first World Cup final.

Both sides had narrow wins in the semifinals, with the U.S. beating a physical England team 2-1 and the Dutch needing extra time to overcome Sweden 1-0.

The finalists both have female coaches. Jill Ellis leads the United States and Sarina Wiegman is in charge of the Netherlands.

It’s the first time since 2003 that two women have coached against each other in the final.

In the most recent meeting between the two teams, the U.S. won 3-1 at home in 2016.

U.S. captain Megan Rapinoe has made headlines off the field during the World Cup, most notably, when a previously recorded interview with Eight by Eight magazine showed her declaring she would not ‘go to the f***ing White House’ if the Americans win the tournament.

The self-described ‘walking protest’ to President Donald Trump has also made headlines on the field, where she scored five goals before sitting out the semi-final win over England with a hamstring injury. Rapinoe is expected to play against the Dutch.

‘I’m like a kid in the candy story right now,’ Rapinoe said. ‘This is the absolute best stage. I already feel more anxious and more nervous than in any of the other games.’

U.S. captain Megan Rapinoe has made headlines off the field during the World Cup, most notably, when a previously recorded interview showed her declaring she would not 'go to the f***ing White House' if the Americans win the tournament. However, the self-described 'walking protest' to President Donald Trump has also made headlines on the field, where she scored five goals before sitting out the semi-final win over England with a hamstring injury. Rapinoe is expected to play against the Dutch

U.S. captain Megan Rapinoe has made headlines off the field during the World Cup, most notably, when a previously recorded interview showed her declaring she would not 'go to the f***ing White House' if the Americans win the tournament. However, the self-described 'walking protest' to President Donald Trump has also made headlines on the field, where she scored five goals before sitting out the semi-final win over England with a hamstring injury. Rapinoe is expected to play against the Dutch

U.S. captain Megan Rapinoe has made headlines off the field during the World Cup, most notably, when a previously recorded interview showed her declaring she would not ‘go to the f***ing White House’ if the Americans win the tournament. However, the self-described ‘walking protest’ to President Donald Trump has also made headlines on the field, where she scored five goals before sitting out the semi-final win over England with a hamstring injury. Rapinoe is expected to play against the Dutch

The issue of gender wage discrimination has hung over the 20109 World Cup as the three-time champion United States women are demanding to be paid equally with their male counterparts

The issue of gender wage discrimination has hung over the 20109 World Cup as the three-time champion United States women are demanding to be paid equally with their male counterparts

The issue of gender wage discrimination has hung over the 20109 World Cup as the three-time champion United States women are demanding to be paid equally with their male counterparts

Lady Liberty is a popular costume among United States national women's soccer team fans

Lady Liberty is a popular costume among United States national women's soccer team fans

Lady Liberty is a popular costume among United States national women’s soccer team fans

United States soccer fans have swarmed Lyon, France in anticipation of Sunday's World Cup final against the Netherlands

United States soccer fans have swarmed Lyon, France in anticipation of Sunday's World Cup final against the Netherlands

United States soccer fans have swarmed Lyon, France in anticipation of Sunday’s World Cup final against the Netherlands

Fans arrive at the 2019 World Cup final in Lyon, where the United States women's soccer team will face the Netherlands

Fans arrive at the 2019 World Cup final in Lyon, where the United States women's soccer team will face the Netherlands

Fans arrive at the 2019 World Cup final in Lyon, where the United States women’s soccer team will face the Netherlands

The United States has won a record 11 straight World Cup matches dating back to 2015 in Canada, surpassing Norway’s record from 1995-99. The team has also been undefeated in a record 16 World Cup matches, surpassing Germany’s run between 2003 and 2007.

‘We’ve celebrated the amazing moments. We’ve dug in, looked each other in the eye in the hard moments and gone through things as a team,’ Rapinoe said. ‘And we get to this final moment and it’s one more game and it’s really just about experiencing that game in its fullest for the last time.’

The Americans face a Dutch team on the rise. After reaching the knockout round in only its first World Cup four years ago in Canada, the team won the European Championship for the Netherlands’ first major trophy. Dating back to the Euros, the Dutch have won 12 straight games in major tournaments.

They have star power in Lieke Martens, who was the FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year in 2017. She scored twice in the team’s 2-1 upset victory over Japan to open the knockout stage but she injured a toe in the celebration and it’s bothered her ever since.

In the Netherlands’ 1-0 extra-time victory over Sweden on Wednesday in the semifinals, Martens said it was painful. The United States defeated England on Tuesday night in its semi, giving the Americans an extra day to recuperate.

‘As a player, you always want to play the biggest game of your career and this one of the biggest ones I hopefully am going to play,’ Martens said.

Jackie Groenen, who became the first overseas signing for Manchester United after the recently formed women’s team was promoted to England’s Super League in May, scored the lone goal for the Dutch against the Swedes.

‘It is amazing to be able to play the final. I am so proud. It is amazing to be playing in a team that gives you self-confidence. We give that to each other,’ Groenen said. ‘We never knew this would be possible. It is one more match and we could be world champions. It will be difficult but it will be incredible to win.’

The top-ranked Americans pose a considerable challenge for the eighth-ranked Dutch.

The United States had a particularly challenging run to its third straight World Cup final, with a quarterfinal meeting against No. 4 France before the semi against No. 3 England. The Americans won both games 2-1.

United States fans with banners for coach of the U.S. Jill Ellis outside the stadium before the match

United States fans with banners for coach of the U.S. Jill Ellis outside the stadium before the match

United States fans with banners for coach of the U.S. Jill Ellis outside the stadium before the match

They’d been strong from the start, announcing their arrival in France with a 13-0 trouncing of Thailand in the opener. Along the way the Americans also vanquished nemesis Sweden, the team that knocked them out of the 2016 Olympics in the quarterfinals.

‘I think we’ve come from a tough road in terms of the teams we’ve played to get to this point, so for sure they’re battle tested. But what I love about this group is that they’re locked in and they’re still hungry,’ U.S. coach Jill Ellis said.

Alex Morgan leads the team, and the Golden Boot race, with six goals. Rapinoe has five, including four in the knockout round, but she did not play against England because of a minor hamstring issue. She said she expects to be ready for Sunday’s match. Ellis said no one has been ruled out.

‘I feel so good about this group,’ Ellis said. ‘They have a closeness that you’re optimistic to have as a coach but it doesn’t always come to fruition. This is a very, very close group, and I think that’s been a big part of what’s empowered them to this point. And obviously I think we’ve got talented players as well, you can’t do without that.’

The teams share a commonality in that both have female coaches, with Ellis guiding the United States and Sarina Wiegman in charge of the Netherlands. It’s the first time since 2003 that two women have matched wits as coaches in the World Cup final.

The most recent meeting between the two teams was in September 2016. The United States won 3-1 in Atlanta.

Dutch fans outside the stadium before the match

Dutch fans outside the stadium before the match

Dutch fans outside the stadium before the match

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