How to watch: Sunday’s final is being televised by Fox and Telemundo in the United States. To find out who holds the broadcast rights where you are, click here.
YELLOW for Spitse
She slid in late on Lavelle; no play on the ball, and a deserved yellow. But she’ll have to be careful now.
So will the Dutch, as Heath lines up over the ensuing free kick.
More signals of intent from the U.S.
A long Rapinoe lead ball to Heath rolls out over the end line, but it’s a sign of what the Americans are trying to do: drive at the Netherlands back line, make them backpedal, force the pressure on them. It’s been their game plan, but if the Netherlands can hold off for a few more minutes, they will have done better than every U.S. opponent so far. The United States has scored at least once in the first 12 minutes of every match in this World Cup.
A Dutch counter … is wasted
The Netherlands catches the United States and rushes up on the left. But a switching ball to change the point of attack sails aimlessly out of bounds for a throw. That looked like nerves, or excitement, but wasting chances like that is something the Dutch cannot afford to do often.
The U.S. counters quickly soon after, with Dahlkemper leading Heath with a long deep ball up the right channel. Heath’s cross creates a bit of a frantic moment for the Dutch back line, but they clear eventually.
The U.S. kicks off and pushes immediately
That’s not unexpected, but the Dutch will need to be on guard. At the moment even O’Hara and Dunn have pushed into the attack. It’s a sign of confidence if anything.
An American Invasion in Lyon: Rory Smith checks in
Via Rory Smith of The Times, inside the Stade de Lyon:
It is quite hard to underestimate the scale of the American takeover of Lyon: this morning, certainly, there was no street that did not contain at least one person carrying the Stars and Stripes, or draping it over their shoulders, or wearing it on their pants.
On the trams streaming out of Lyon toward the stadium, American fans outnumbered the Dutch by some considerable order of magnitude: three to one? Four to one? Five? Given that the Netherlands is, famously, quite a lot closer to France than the United States, and given that the Dutch generally travel in vast quantities, that they should be in such a minority is testament to the pulling power of this United States team.
In the stadium, Jill Ellis’s players will feel they have home advantage, even on this side of the Atlantic. There is one bank of Dutch fans, in that vibrant orange, but most of the rest of the stands are dominated by Americans. The players were roared from the field when their warm-up session ended; each name was cheered when the starting lineup was read out, and none more so than Megan Rapinoe, the captain, and the standard-bearer for this squad. That says a lot, too, about the team and its fans and the bond between them: her unapologetic activism, her outspokenness, makes her more popular, not less.
The trophy has arrived, and the teams are coming out
The former United States World Cup winner Carla Overbeck carries the hardware onto the field just before the teams emerge. There are, not surprisingly, raucous cheer.
The sun is shining, and temperatures before kickoff sat around 88 degrees — which felt outright cool in comparison to the punishing heat wave and triple-digit readings over the past week and a half.
The starting lineups are out: Rapinoe returns for the USWNT
United States starting lineup: Alyssa Naeher; Crystal Dunn, Becky Sauerbrunn, Abby Dahlkemper, Kelley O’Hara; Sam Mewis, Julie Ertz, Rose Lavelle; Megan Rapinoe, Alex Morgan, Tobin Heath
That’s hardly a surprise: it would have taken some heavy chains to keep Rapinoe on the bench for this one. The bigger news, arguably, is that Rose Lavelle, who left the semifinal against England mouthing “It’s my hamstring,” has been declared fit to start. She has been the driving force behind the Americans’ attack throughout the tournament and would have been sorely missed.
Netherlands lineup: Martens (foot) is good to go
Netherlands starting lineup: Sari van Veenendaal; Desiree Van Lunteren, Anouk Dekker, Stefanie Van der Gragt, Dominique Bloodworth; Jackie Groenen, Danielle van de Donk, Sherida Spitse; Lineth Beerensteyn, Vivianne Miedema, Lieke Martens
That is the biggest question for Sarina Wiegman answered, too: Martens starts. Let’s see if she can be effective.
Do not underestimate the Dutch today. They have an excellent midfield and two of the world’s more dangerous attackers in Miedema and Martens. They also are the reigning European champion, and they believe (correctly) they have earned their title shot. Gritty and resilient, they have shown a knack for waiting teams out and scoring late goals, and they surprised some by holding off a Japan team that seemed sure to beat them in the round of 16. Yes, it will take a Herculean effort. But they are good enough to win this.
Great note: Neither the U.S. nor the Netherlands has trailed in this World Cup
Not for even a minute. Fascinating. But it also shows that each team has handled everything it has had to handle in France, and that falling behind might be unnerving.
What can we expect today?
Our World Cup final preview is here, and in it we make the case for each team to prevail. (While the United States is favored, remember that journalists root for good stories, not specific results.)
Once the game kicks off, there are a few things to watch for that may give you an early hint of how the match might go:
The United States has scored early in every one of its games at the World Cup — in the first 12 minutes to be exact. Look for the Americans to come out with their foot on the gas again today. If that pressure turns into an early goal, and if the Netherlands can’t respond (or at least fight out from under it), it could be an early knockout blow for a Dutch team that is making its first appearance in the World Cup final.
The Dutch like possession, and the United States has seemed willing to concede it at times, especially in the second half of matches it is leading. Having the ball could give the Dutch a welcome sense of control over matters early, and that could be important. But the United States also could invite danger if it grabs a lead and then decides to sit back and guard it too early.
Read our full preview here.
A few injuries worth watching
UPDATE: All three players are starting. But keep an eye on them; it wouldn’t be the first time a team started someone in the hope they were fit when they weren’t.
Megan Rapinoe missed the Americans’ semifinal against England with a hamstring injury and Rose Lavelle departed that game with a similar problem. Both have declared themselves good to go today, and Coach Jill Ellis said Saturday that “no one has been ruled out,” which, it must be noted, is not the same as saying everyone is healthy and will play.
The Netherlands has its own injury concern: forward Lieke Martens, the player of the tournament when the Dutch team won the European Championship in 2017, trained away from her teammates ahead of the final. Martens reportedly injured her toe when a teammate stepped on it during the celebrations after a victory against Japan in the round of 16, and she needed to be substituted at halftime of the semifinal against Sweden.
Losing Martens would be a serious blow for a Netherlands team that needs to be at the top of its game to beat the United States.
Soccer Sunday: Good thing or bad thing?
Sunday is a tremendous day if you’re a soccer fan. A Women’s World Cup final. A South American championship with host Brazil facing Peru in the Copa América final. A United States-Mexico staredown in the Concacaf Gold Cup final in Chicago.
Not everyone, of course, is happy about that. That scheduling bounty/disaster (depending on one’s point of view) was created long ago; men’s officials claimed it was merely an oversight, a “clerical error,” which says a lot about how some who run the sport, and the television networks who partner with them, value the women’s game.
But the congestion was noted immediately by those invested in the Women’s World Cup. “Ridiculous and disappointing” was what Megan Rapinoe called it in May. Her coach, Jill Ellis, said that “playing three big matches in one day is not supporting the women’s game.”
Rapinoe continued to assail the collision of finals during a news conference on Friday.
“That’s terrible scheduling for everyone,” she said, adding, “It’s a terrible idea to put everything on the same day, in every way.”
She rejected apologies from FIFA and the other confederations that the scheduling had been a mere “mistake,” saying it was just a reflection of the way women’s soccer is treated more generally by global soccer authorities. Women, she said, deserved at least one day of their own.
“This is the World Cup final,” she said. “This is cancel-everything day.”
Winning and the White House
In her final prematch interaction with reporters on Saturday, Megan Rapinoe was asked how many United States players would visit the White House after the World Cup now that President Trump has extended an invitation to the team “win or lose.”
Like her teammate Alex Morgan, Rapinoe noted that the United States’ priority was to win the trophy first. (Morgan said this week that the call on a White House visit would be a team decision.) But, like Morgan, who told reporters Friday that “you guys know the answer to the question anyways,” Rapinoe did not backtrack from her earlier position that she would not be part of a White House trip to see Mr. Trump under any circumstances.
“Obviously not myself, not Ali Krieger, and I suspect not many, if any, of the other players,” she said.