New faces, old routine - what we learned from USA's defeat of the Netherlands

Rose Lavelle scored a superb opener as the USWNT beat the Dutch 2-0 in their 2019 Women's World Cup Final rematch in Breda.

By Rory Jiwani

The United States defeated the Netherlands 2-0 in their Women's World Cup Final rematch in Breda on Friday (27 November).

In their first match for 261 days due to the COVID pandemic, the visitors were in control for much of the game.

Despite dominating the first half, they had failed to seriously test Dutch goalkeeper Sari van Veenendaal before Rose Lavelle opened the scoring with a spectacular curling left-foot effort in the 41st minute.

And Kristie Mewis marked her first USWNT appearance for six years with the second 20 minutes from time.

Alex Morgan came on at half-time to make her return to the side after childbirth in May, playing a part in Mewis's goal.

Back in the winning habit

Even without Megan Rapinoe, Carli Lloyd and a host of other names from their 2019 World Cup winning squad, the United States were far too strong for the Dutch.

They still have plenty of experience with Christen Press looking lively in attack and having what looked like a good goal ruled out for offside before Lavelle's moment of brilliance.

Morgan also looked sharp when she came on and, like Press, put the ball in the net only to have it scrubbed off.

Despite playing just three times for English side Tottenham Hotspur since giving birth to daughter Charlie, Morgan looks in good shape and was involved in the USA's second goal.

She flicked on a kick upfield from USA goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher and a neat first-time pass from Lynn Williams put away Kristie Mewis who finished well.

It was a second international goal for Mewis who replaced Lavelle after an hour to join younger sister Sam on the pitch.

There was also a debut for 20-year-old Sophia Smith, a prolific goalscorer for the USA U-20 team.

In coming on with 15 minutes to go, Smith became the first woman born in the 2000s to appear for the USWNT.

Coach Vlatko Andonovski has immense strength in depth at his disposal and the USA's commitment to success as described to Olympic Channel by defender Kelley O'Hara - who started in Breda - remains as strong as ever.

Picking up where they left off - on and off the pitch

As well as winning football matches, the USWNT has long been keen to express its opinions on issues away from the field of play.

In 2016, Rapinoe was one of the first white athletes to follow NFL star Colin Kaepernick's lead in 'taking a knee' in protest during the American national anthem.

She and her team-mates have since campaigned for pay equity with the USA men's national team and are currently appealing the dismissal of their case against U.S. Soccer in May this year.

They once again showed that they wish to make their voices heard in Breda, wearing warm-up tops bearing the slogan 'Black Lives Matter'.

Nine members of the starting XI also chose to kneel as the Star-Spangled Banner played in the empty stadium.

USA's starting XI for their match against the Netherlands during the American national anthem

World Cup winner Crystal Dunn Soubrier was one of the nine, and explained the importance of the Black Lives Matter movement on social media.

Victory over the Netherlands took coach Andonovski's record to 11-0 since taking over from Jill Ellis after the 2019 Women's World Cup.

One of his toughest tasks will surely be to pick the squad of 18 for Tokyo 2020 where the USA will be favourites to regain their Olympic title.