Familiar foes: US, Netherlands ready for quarterfinal clash

Anne M. Peterson Ap Sports Writer
Thursday, July 29, 2021

On to the rematch.

The United States plays the Netherlands on Friday in the quarterfinals of the Olympic women’s soccer tournament — bringing together the two teams that played in the World Cup final two years ago in France.

The U.S. women won that one 2-0 and afterward the crowd chanted “Equal Pay!” in support of the team’s legal fight for equity with the men’s national team.

This time, there won’t be any crowds and the case is before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals back home in the United States, with no ruling expected in the near future. And obviously there’s greater weight on a World Cup final than an Olympic quarterfinal.

But the game in Yokohama has taken on significance because the normally indomitable Americans showed vulnerabilities in the group stage: Notably a 3-0 loss to Sweden in the Olympic opener.

After a 6-1 rebound win over New Zealand, the U.S. played to a scoreless draw against Australia, which, while uncharacteristic for the offensively dominant Americans, got the team through to the knockout stage.

The United States hadn’t been shutout since 2017 before this Olympics, and now the team has been blanked twice in less than two weeks.

“I think a lot of people understand that we’re here to compete and win a gold medal and however we get there, winning is the most important thing. So, yes, fans and outsiders looking in are probably like, ’Oh, this is so different.’ You’ve never seen the U.S. do this,” defender Crystal Dunn said.

“But at the same time, it’s about executing a game plan, moving on from one round to another. And whatever tactics, plans that we have that we’re given, it’s our job as players to trust and believe in ourselves and each other and live to fight another day.”

Instead, it’s the Netherlands that has become a high-scoring juggernaut. The Dutch scored 21 goals in the group stage — smashing the previous record of 16 set by the United States in 2012.

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