YOKOHAMA, Japan (July 30, 2021)— The U.S. Women’s National Team defeated Netherlands 4-2 in a dramatic penalty kick shootout to reach the semifinals of the delayed 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher put in a massive performance for the USA, saving two penalties during the shootout as well as another penalty late in regulation.
The victory marks the sixth time in seven Olympic Games that the USWNT has made it to the semifinal.
In a wild back-and-forth match, midfielder Samantha Mewis and forward Lynn Williams – teammates on the North Carolina Courage in the NWSL and former roommates -- combined for the USA’s two goals midway through the first half while the teams traded chances through 120 minutes, but remained deadlocked at 2-2 at the conclusion of extra time. The U.S. also had four goals disallowed by the slimmest of margins due to offside.
The USA advances to face Canada in the semifinals on Monday, Aug. 2 at 4 a.m. ET. Canada is the most frequent foe in USWNT history and the teams have met twice previously at the Olympics, most recently in an epic semifinal match at London 2012, a 4-3 victory for the USA.
After closing the group stage with a 0-0 draw vs. Australia, the USA came out firmly on the front foot offensively against the Netherlands, creating a number of dangerous chances in the early going. Forward Tobin Heath nearly opened the scoring in the 10th minute, but her goal was called offside. Just four minutes later, a cross from the right side by Williams found Lindsey Horan for a snap header in the box but Dutch goalkeeper Sari van Veenendaal made an impressive save and the ball ricocheted off the left post and out.
Despite the early opportunities, the Netherlands got on the board first in the 18th minute through the red-hot forward Vivianne Miedema, who exits the tournament as the leading scorer. As the U.S. failed to clear a ball out of the box, Miedema fired a shot to the lower left corner for her ninth goal of the Olympics in her 100th appearance for the Oranje.
It didn’t take long for a resounding response for the USWNT. Williams, who was originally named as an alternate to the Olympic Team before the rosters were expanded, was starting her first match of the tournament after a substitute appearance against Australia. She provided the spark in the 28th minute, playing a ball into the penalty area for 2020 U.S. Soccer Female Player of the Year Samantha Mewis, and she netted her first Olympic goal with a diving header to draw things even.
Mewis teed up Williams for a goal of her own just three minutes later. As the Dutch attempted to clear a U.S. corner, Mewis won a header in the box and it bounced down to Williams, who ripped a one-time shot from 12 yards out to give the USWNT the lead with her third goal of 2021 and first in the Olympic Games.
After the break, the meeting between the two 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup finalists continued to be an entertaining, back-and-forth affair. Miedema scored her second of the evening with a hard rolling shot from beyond the arc in the 54th, her 10th of the tournament. Shortly after, USWNT head coach Vlatko Andonovski three changes, bringing on fresh legs for the attack in the 58th minute as Rose Lavelle, Alex Morgan and Christen Press entered the match. Press made an immediate impact, putting the ball in the back of the net before it was whistled offside in the 63rd, the seventh goal disallowed for the USA in Tokyo.
On a Dutch foray in the 80th minute, Kelley O’Hara bundled into a Dutch forward in the box as she attempted to fight for a cross and referee Kate Jacewicz to point to the penalty spot. Star forward Lieke Martens stepped up for the attempt, but Naeher was up to the task, diving to her left to swallow the shot, keep things level and give the USA life.
Both teams created a number of promising opportunities just before extra time, with midfielder Danielle van de Donk sending a close-range header just wide in the 86th while a dangerous cross from Megan Rapinoe was nearly cleared into the net in the 89th.
The Dutch had the better opportunities in the first period of extra time as the Netherlands had a header goal disallowed for offside in the 94th during the aftermath of a corner kick and Naeher made a nice diving save on a well-placed header from Miedema in the 103rd.
Disallowed goals continued to plague the USWNT in the second half of extra time as both Press and Morgan looked to have scored game-winners that were called offside after the ball had gone into the net.
Both teams expended a tremendous amount of energy in battling for 120 minutes, but neither could find the winner and the match went to penalty kicks. The Netherlands went first in the shootout and Naeher made a statement with on the Oranje’s very first attempt. With the ever-dangerous Miedema leading off for the Dutch, Naeher dove full stretch to her right to make the save and give the USA an immediate advantage in the shootout.
After cool and clinical finishes from Lavelle, Morgan and Press, Naeher saved Aniek Nouwen’s attempt, the Netherlands’ fourth, to tee up the U.S. for victory. Rapinoe then rifled her shot to the top right corner to clinch the shootout and send the USWNT back to the Olympic semis after being eliminated by penalties by Sweden in the 2016 Olympic quarterfinals.
The Netherlands, the defending European champions as well as 2019 World Cup runners-up, exit the tournament despite scoring a record 23 goals over four matches.
Apart from the two scores from Miedema, one of the world’s best strikers, the USA’s team defense was stellar with center backs Abby Dahlkemper and Becky Sauerbrunn repelling numerous services in the air. Outside backs Kelley O’Hara and Crystal Dunn also did a stellar job on the dangerous Dutch winters, with Dunn particularly effective in shutting down the speedy Shanice van de Sanden as well as equally as swift 63rd minute replacement Lineth Beerensteyn.
GOAL SCORING RUNDOWN
NED – Vivianne Miedema, 18th minute: The U.S. deflected a Dutch shot from the top of the penalty area, but the ball ricocheted to Miedema 15 yards from goal. She took a touch into keep the ball alive and then fired a well-hit volley on the bounce just inside the left post past a diving Alyssa Naeher. USA 0, NED 1
USA – Samantha Mewis (Lynn Williams), 28th minute: Working just outside the top right corner of the penalty box, Williams dribbled to find some space from her defender and sent a cross near the top of the six-yard box. A diving Mewis slashed in front of her defender to meet the ball from eight yards out, sending a glancing header inside the right post to equalize for the USA. It was her sixth goal of 2021 and her first-ever Olympic goal. USA 1, NED 1
USA – Lynn Williams (Samantha Mewis), 31st minute: The USA’s emphatic response continued as Mewis teed up Williams to take the lead. In the aftermath of a corner kick, Williams headed the ball to keep it alive inside the penalty area. Mewis won another header on the falling ball and it bounced back to Williams who let it bounce before hitting a volley inside the left post from 12 yards out for the lead and her 12th career international goal. USA 2, NED 1
NED – Vivianne Miedema, 54th minute: Miedema received the ball about 25 yards out and attempted to play a ball into the box, but had it deflected right back to her feet. She dribbled to her right and ripped a shot from the top of the arc to the near post to draw the Dutch back even. USA 2, NED 2
The USA’s record against the Netherlands now stands at 8-1-1, as the match officially goes down as a draw. It was their second meeting in the knockout rounds of a world championship after winning the 2019 Women’s World Cup Final 2-0 vs. the Dutch in Lyon, France on July 7, 2019.
With the result, head coach Vlatko Andonovski is now 23-1-3 in his first 27 games.
Andonovski made five changes from the starting line-up against Australia on Monday. Abby Dahlkemper replaced Tierna Davidson on the back line, Lindsey Horan replaced Rose Lavelle in midfield while Tobin Heath, Carli Lloyd and Lynn Williams replaced Alex Morgan, Christen Press and Megan Rapinoe up front.
Crystal Dunn and Alyssa Naeher have started all four matches for the USA so far at the Olympics.
Horan and Lloyd are the only two players to appear in all 16 matches for the USA so far in 2021.
With her appearance vs. the Netherlands, Lloyd earned her 310th cap for the USWNT and is now just one shy of tying Christie Pearce Rampone for the second-most caps in international soccer history.
-U.S. WOMEN’S NATIONAL TEAM MATCH REPORT-
Match: United States Women’s National Team vs. Netherlands
Date: July 30, 2021
Competition: Tokyo 2020 Olympics: Quarterfinal
Venue: International Stadium Yokohama; Yokohama, Japan
Kickoff: 8 p.m. local / 7 a.m. ET
Weather: 80 degrees; cloudy
Scoring Summary: 1 2 OT1 OT2 F PKs
USA 2 0 0 0 2 4
NED 1 1 0 0 2 2
NED – Vivianne Miedema 18th minute
USA – Samantha Mewis (Lynn Williams) 28
USA – Lynn Williams (Samantha Mewis) 31
NED – Vivianne Miedema 54
Penalty Kick Summary:
NED: Vivianne Miedema (Saved), Dominique Janssen (Goal), Stefanie van der Gragt (Goal), Aniek Nouwen (Saved)
USA: Rose Lavelle (Goal), Alex Morgan (Goal), Christen Press (Goal), Megan Rapinoe (Goal)
USA: 1-Alyssa Naeher; 5-Kelley O’Hara, 17-Abby Dahlkemper, 4-Becky Sauerbrunn (Capt.), 2-Crystal Dunn; 8-Julie Ertz, 9-Lindsey Horan, 3-Samantha Mewis (16-Rose Lavelle, 58); 21-Lynn Williams (11-Christen Press, 58), 10-Carli Lloyd (13-Alex Morgan, 58), 7-Tobin Heath (15-Megan Rapinoe, 64)
Substitutes not used: 18-Adrianna Franch, 6-Kristie Mewis, 14-Emily Sonnett
Head coach: Vlatko Andonovski
NED: 1-Sari van Veenendaal (Capt.), 2-Lynn Wilms, 3-Stefanie van der Gragt, 4-Aniek Nouwen, 17-Dominique Janssen; 6-Jill Roord (13-Victoria Pelova, 97), 10-Danielle van de Donk, 14-Jackie Groenen, 7-Shanice van de Sanden (18-Lineth Beerensteyn, 63), 9-Vivianne Miedema, 11-Lieke Martens
Substitutes not used: 16-Lize Kop, 5-Merel van Dongen, 15-Kika van Es, 19-Renate Jansen, 21-Anouk Dekker
Head coach: Sarina Wiegman
Stats Summary: USA / NED
Shots: 16 / 21
Shots on Goal: 4 / 7
Saves: 5 / 2
Corner Kicks: 7 / 4
Fouls: 14 / 11
Offside: 6 / 1
USA – Lindsey Horan (Caution) 77th minute
NED – Danielle van de Donk (Caution) 90+4
USA – Kelley O’Hara (Caution) 115
Referee: Kate Jacewicz (AUS)
AR1: Kyoung Min Kim (KOR)
AR2: Seul Gi Lee (KOR)
4th Official: Yoshimi Yamashita (JPN)
Insiders Woman of the Match: Alyssa Naeher