Spectacular Oranje run ends with World Cup 2-0 loss to U.S.

Young Oranje fans after the Lionesses beat Sweden in the World Cup semi-finals in Lyon, 3 July 2019
Young Oranje fans after the Lionesses beat Sweden in the World Cup semi-finals in Lyon, 3 July 2019Photo: KNVB

The excellent 2019 World Cup tournament run by the Dutch women's national football team came to a disappointing end on Sunday night when the United States beat the Netherlands 2-0. In a match where Dutch goalkeeper Sari van Veenendaal racked up save after save securing the Golden Glove for the tournament, the U.S. was able to consistently pierce Dutch coach Sarina Wiegman's defensive strategy until a penalty broke the match wide open in the 61st minute.

A fine strike from the spot by U.S. captain Megan Rapinoe put America in front, with a fantastic goal by Rose Lavelle sealing the victory for the United States in Lyon, France. Rapinoe ended up taking home the Golden Boot after the match, and was named the best player of the tournament.

The Oranje Vrouwen held their heads high at the end of the match, but were clearly disappointed with a handful of players in tears at the end of the match. Stefanie van der Gragt was one of those in tears, whose wild, high kick led to the penalty. Oranje held their arms around each, forming a heart on the field, as the listened to Wiegman's words.

The 2019 World Cup trophy and medals were awarded to the winners after the match in Lyon, France, after the Dutch team were awarded their second-place medals. 

King Willem-Alexander, two of his daughters, Princess Amalia and Princess Ariane, and Dutch football association leader KNVB chairman Michael van Praag joined thousands of orange-clad Netherlands supporters who have followed the Dutch team throughout the tournament, with hundreds packing the stands at the Parc Olympique Lyonnais behind the Dutch goal in the first half. Some five million Dutch fans tuned in to watch the OranjeLeeuwinnen topple Sweden to enter the final.

The massive influx of American fans at the stadium included U.S. Deputy Commerce Secretary Karen Dunn Kelley, the highest-ranking member of the U.S. administration to attend the match.

Over a billion sports fans were expected to watch the World Cup final worldwide, according to the BBC, including music and theater fans attending several festivals in the Netherlands. French President Emmanuel Macron was also on hand for the final.

It was a tense, high pressure start to the match, where the United States dominated in possession for the first twenty minutes, a stark contrast to the Dutch team's previous matches in the 2019 tournament. Still, the first real opportunities on goal for either side came with a cross that was masterfully smothered by Dutch goalkeeper Sari van Veenendaal in the 17th minute, and a ball lofted into the area towards U.S. striker Sam Mewis which Van Veenendaal plucked out of the air.

In the 26th minuten, Vivianne Miedema sent a ball from midfield leading Lineth Beerensteyn on a breakaway run, splitting two defenders, that was broken up past the top of the area by U.S. goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher.

Just two minutes later came the first real shot on goal, when on a deflected corner, U.S. midfielder Julie Ertz struck the ball through a crowd right on target. Van Veenendaal kept her composure and clubbed the ball clear with her fists.

Several nail-biting moments in the 38th minute when Van Veenendaal had two excellent saves. The first a shot from Ertz right at Van Veenendaal again, with the offensive threat eventually cleared by defender Stefanie van der Gragt. The second coming from a sharp cross by star U.S. player Megan Rapinoe to Alex Morgan, advancing hard at the six-yard box. Morgan's shot was stopped at the low corner on the right-side, and with some help from the post, Van Veenendaal kept hold of the ball.

Morgan again managed to get a hard shot in on goal, which caused Van Veenendaal to dive to her left and deflect aside with her body.

It was 0-0 going into halftime, with the star of the Dutch side unquestionably being Sari van Veenendaal, who stopped four solid shots on target, and managed to interfere several other U.S. offensive plays. The U.S. was still doing a far better job of maintaining possession by the end of the first half, keeping a 62%-38% edge, with far better pass accuracy.

America came out aggressive in the half, managing a corner and a shot on Van Veenendaal within three minutes. But the fast-paced game led to another tense moment in the match, when video review led to Van der Gragt getting a yellow card for a high kick against Morgan in the area. Morgan had taken an apparent dive in the first half to try and win a penalty, but VAR determined that contact was indeed made in the 59th minute and was sufficient enough to reverse the initial call of a corner kick by match referee Stéphanie Frappart.

Rapinoe took the penalty expertly in the 61st minute. She sent the ball towards the right side of the goal, freezing Van Veenendaal.

The U.S. struck again eight minutes later when Rose Lavelle dribbled the ball towards the top of the area. Her move on Van der Gragt had the Dutch defender spin the wrong way, and before midfielder Anouk Dekker could cover for her teammate, Lavelle fired a shot at the right side of the goal. Van Veenendaal was a bit off-balance but dove the correct way, but did not manage to get her fingertips on the ball.

America's offensive play continued, with Van Veenendaal stepping up to make two critical stops in the ensuing minutes. One of the saves was off a left-footed shot from U.S. defender Crystal Dunn, who lost her defender on a run into the box. Van Veenendaal managed to push the ball aside for a corner.

A free kick in the 80th minute by Spitse that split the U.S. wall standing at the top of the area was one of the best chances for Oranje. The ball went just wide of the post, missing the target by a meter at most.

The two-goal lead was not enough to slow America down, with Morgan getting two more shots in the area, despite putting more strength into their defensive end.

By the time the final whistle blew, it was clear that the team which played the best won the match. The United States had ten shots on goal, seven more off-target, and won eight corners. That compares to the Netherlands, which managed just one shot on goal out of five shots in total, and they won only one corner. The U.S. was also more accurate in its passing, edging the Netherlands 68%-63%.

Even with the United States playing more defensively in the last 15 minutes of the match, the Netherlands managed to keep the ball for only 46% of the match. In their semifinal victory over Sweden, Oranje held possession for 58% of the match, and they kept the ball even longer in the quarterfinal against Italy, and their last group match against Canada.

A Dutch win would have meant a floating victory parade down Amsterdam's canals on Tuesday, followed by a rally for the champions in Museumplein. The Dutch team decided they did not want such a party should they come home in second place. When the Dutch men's team took the runner-up spot in 2010, nearly a million people showed up for a similar celebration.