Come next summer, the U.S. women’s national team will be facing a familiar opponent in the World Cup after drawing the Netherlands for the group stage.
They’ll be joined by Vietnam and the winner of the Group A Play-off, which will either be Cameroon, Portugal or Thailand.
Ready for next summer 👊 pic.twitter.com/WIrs7Yg2nI— U.S. Women's National Soccer Team (@USWNT) October 22, 2022
Ready for next summer 👊 pic.twitter.com/WIrs7Yg2nI
But their second game of the tournament will prove a big test, as the two teams faced off in the final of the 2019 World Cup. The USWNT won that match while the Netherlands finished as runner-up in the tournament.
“We got a good but somewhat tough draw,” said head coach Vlatko Andonovski. “I’m excited about it. This is when the real preparation starts.”
A matchup between the two teams in the quarterfinals of last summer’s Olympics featured the U.S. advancing 4-2 on penalty kicks after finishing regulation tied 2-2.
“It’s exciting, and it’s a very good team,” USWNT midfielder Lindsey Horan told Fox of going up against the Netherlands in their second game. “One that’s developing a lot and has changed a lot over the last two years. An opening game against Vietnam, I think that’s great for us to get us going in the tournament.”
Both teams have had a rough go of it as of late. The USWNT is coming off of back-to-back losses to England and Spain, but were without stars such as Alex Morgan.
Meanwhile the Netherlands have not been the same since manager Sarina Wiegman departed for England. After a disappointing Euros that featured the team exiting in the quarterfinals, the team parted ways with Mark Parsons and has since named Andries Jonker as head coach.
Horan knows that the USWNT has a ways to go to be fully prepared for next summer’s World Cup.
“I think we have a lot of work to do in the next year,” she said. “You see the competitiveness and you see the game changing, how the teams are evolving. We lost two games. We need to be better, we need to learn and grow from these.
“Even without certain players on the field, we have to adapt and develop the style that we’re going to go in and play in the World Cup.”
All of the games in Group E will be played in New Zealand, starting July 22 in Auckland against Vietnam. The USWNT will then face the Netherlands on July 27 before their final game on Aug. 1.