LYON, France — The United States is about to conclude its summer in France with an opportunity to further cement its place as the best team on the international stage.
The U.S. faces the Netherlands on Sunday for the Women’s World Cup championship. A victory would give the Americans a second straight title and their fourth overall, more than any other nation
“I’m like a kid in the candy story right now,” U.S. star Megan Rapinoe said. “This is the absolute best stage. I already feel more anxious and more nervous than in any of the other games.”
The United States has won a record 11 straight World Cup matches dating back to 2015 in Canada, surpassing Norway’s record from 1995-99. The team has also been undefeated in a record 16 World Cup matches, surpassing Germany’s run between 2003 and 2007.
“We’ve celebrated the amazing moments. We’ve dug in, looked each other in the eye in the hard moments and gone through things as a team,” Rapinoe said. “And we get to this final moment and it’s one more game and it’s really just about experiencing that game in its fullest for the last time.”
The Americans face a Dutch team on the rise. After reaching the knockout round in only its first World Cup four years ago in Canada, the team won the European Championship for the Netherlands’ first major trophy. Dating back to the Euros, the Dutch have won 12 straight games in major tournaments.
They have star power in Lieke Martens, who was the FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year in 2017. She scored twice in the team’s 2-1 upset victory over Japan to open the knockout stage but she injured a toe in the celebration and it’s bothered her ever since.
In the Netherlands’ 1-0 extra-time victory over Sweden on Wednesday in the semifinals, Martens said it was painful. The United States defeated England on Tuesday night in its semi, giving the Americans an extra day to recuperate.
“As a player, you always want to play the biggest game of your career and this one of the biggest ones I hopefully am going to play,” Martens said.