Third Meeting in the 21st Century
The USA is 5-1-0 all-time against the Netherlands and will meet the Dutch for only the third time in the 21st century on Sunday night. The USA won the most recent meeting which took place in The Hague in April of 2013, getting a goal from Tobin Heath and two from Christen Press in the 3-1 victory. Manon Melis scored for Holland. Prior to that, the teams hadn’t met since 2006, a 2-0 U.S. win at the Peace Queen Cup in Suwon, South Korea. The teams met in a pair of friendlies in 1999 with the USA winning both. The 1996 meeting, the first match for the U.S. Women in California, was a 6-0 win at Cal-State Fullerton. Prior to that, the first match between the two sides came in 1991, a 4-3 victory for the Netherlands and its only win in the series between these two countries.
A New European Power Emerging
The Netherlands made its first appearance in a Women’s World Cup in 2015 and put in a good showing for a debutant side. The Dutch side finished third in Group A behind second place China PR on the basis of goals scored and was able to advance to the knockout round as one of the four best third-place teams. There, Leeuwinnen (“The Lionesses”), met Japan in the Round of 16 and fell 2-1. All four of the Netherlands games at the World Cup were close affairs, defeating New Zealand 1-0, losing to China PR 1-0 and tying Canada 1-1. Lieke Martens scored against the Kiwis, while Kirsten Van De Ven scored against Canada and also provided te lone goal against Japan.
Though only 20, Vivianne Miedema is the Netherlands’ star. Having sharpened her finishing skills in the Bundesliga with Bayern Munich, she scored a remarkable 16 goals in World Cup qualifiers, including all three of her side’s goals in the playoff final that got the Dutch to Canada. She already has 26 goals in her first 37 caps for Holland.
The Netherlands will host the next European Women’s Championship joining the 15 qualifiers in the final tournament in July/August 2017. As the squad is not going through qualifying, the match against the USA serves as excellent preparation for what surely will be one of the biggest tournaments in Dutch women’s soccer history.
Netherlands head coach Arjan van der Laan took over the team in September of 2015, succeeding Roger Reijners. His first major tournament in charge was the 2016 Olympic Qualifying Tournament, where the Netherlands competed with Sweden, Norway and Switzerland for the final European place in the 2016 Olympics. The Netherlands finished in second place, with group winner Sweden earning the Olympic ticket.