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World Cup scouting report: How the Netherlands could beat the USWNT

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Lieke Martens is one of the top players on the Netherlands' World Cup roster. (Joris Verwijst/BSR Agency/Getty Images)

As the U.S. women’s national team prepares for the 2023 World Cup, Just Women’s Sports is taking a look at its opponents — including its three group-stage adversaries and its likely matchups in the knockout rounds.

First up is a familiar foe and the USWNT’s second group-stage opponent: the Netherlands.

Manager: Andries Jonker

Andries Jonker, 60, joined the team in August 2022, taking the helm after Mark Parsons’ exit. He is under contract through 2025.

Key player: Lieke Martens

The Netherlands brings a number of heavy hitters to New Zealand despite the absence of star Vivianne Miedema, who is missing this year’s World Cup due to an ACL tear. Without Miedema, the team will rely on the rest of its forwards — including 30-year-old winger Lieke Martens — to carry the attack. Martens has 59 goals through 145 international appearances.

Other players to watch include 33-year-old midfielder and team captain Sherida Spitse and her 216 international caps, as well as Jill Roord, Daniëlle van de Donk and Stefanie van der Gragt, who all have a healthy amount of international experience.

World Cup history

The Oranje have appeared in three straight World Cups since 2015. While they advanced to the Round of 16 that year, they lost to eventual finalists Japan. In 2019, the Netherlands made it all the way to the championship match, where they fell 2-0 to the USWNT courtesy of goals from Megan Rapinoe and Rose Lavelle.

Group stage schedule

The Netherlands will play in Group E alongside the USWNT, Portugal and Vietnam. Take a look at the schedule below, or check out the full World Cup schedule.

  • Sunday, July 23 – 3:30 a.m. ET (FS1)
    • Netherlands vs. Portugal
  • Wednesday, July 26 – 9 p.m. ET (Fox)
    • Netherlands vs. USWNT
  • Tuesday, Aug. 1 – 3 a.m. ET (FS1)
    • Netherlands vs. Vietnam

Keys to beat the USWNT

While the Netherlands features a number of big European stars, from Paris Saint-Germain’s Martens to Manchester City’s Roord and more, they’ll all need to play cohesively to make a run. The team underwent a coaching change after a quarterfinal exit at the 2022 Euros, and it has had mixed results to start the year. The Oranje lost to Austria in February before beating them decisively in the next game. And after a 1-0 loss to Germany in April, they won back-to-back games over Poland and Belgium.

The Netherlands’ ability to break opposing defenses down with a small number of passes is one of its biggest strengths, and that could prove difficult for a young USWNT defense to handle — especially without veteran stalwart Becky Sauerbrunn.

Defensively, the Netherlands needs to lock down. At times, the defense has been vulnerable and easily penetrable, with individual mistakes creating larger problems. The speed of the USWNT attack could prove lethal (looking at you, Trinity Rodman) if the Oranje aren’t on their game. As for the USWNT, they’ll need to focus on being more explosive in transition and on finishing their attacks.