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At the Women's World Cup, the USA faces the Netherlands — a rematch of the 2019 final

Players with Team USA attend a training session at the Bay City Park in Auckland, New Zealand ahead of their World Cup match against the Netherlands.
Saeed Khan
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AFP via Getty Images
Players with Team USA attend a training session at the Bay City Park in Auckland, New Zealand ahead of their World Cup match against the Netherlands.

Updated July 26, 2023 at 7:39 AM ET

Fresh off its victory over Vietnam, the U.S. Women's National Team has a much tougher test Wednesday at the2023 World Cup when it takes on the Netherlands.

This is a rematch of the 2019 final - a game won by the U.S. This time, a victory (or tie) is crucial for both teams to remain at the top of the group stage and all but guarantee advancing to the tournament's knockout round next month.

"This is going to be an incredibly difficult matchup, very challenging," U.S. forward Alex Morgan said a day before the game against the ninth-ranked Netherlands.

The U.S. is the two-time defending champion and ranked number one - but did not look dominant or cohesive in its opening 3-0 win against Vietnam last week. Likewise, the Dutch squeaked by 21st-ranked and WWC newcomer Portugal 1-0 in their group play opener.

Speaking to reporters about the U.S. performance against Vietnam, Morgan said, "I think we saw a lot of glimpses of our potential, but I feel like we weren't always clicking on the field." This is Vietnam's first-ever appearance at the Women's World Cup but the squad kept up with the Americans most of the match.

USA forward Alex Morgan (R) speaks beside USA defender Sofia Huerta during a press conference in Auckland, New Zealand on July 25, 2023, ahead of their Women's World Cup soccer match against the Netherlands.
Saeed Khan / AFP via Getty Images
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AFP via Getty Images
U.S. forward Alex Morgan (right) speaks beside defender Sofia Huerta during a press conference in Auckland, New Zealand on Tuesday, ahead of their World Cup soccer match against the Netherlands.

"I feel like some of the plays that we had were a little forced or rushed," said Morgan.

The opening match with Vietnam was a wake-up call for the U.S. Defender Sofia Huerta said the team is doubling down in its focus for the Netherlands and realizes this game will be a lot tougher. "It doesn't matter what ranking you are, you know, anything can happen."

The U.S. match against the Netherlands in Wellington, New Zealand, kicks off Wednesday at 9 p.m. ET and can be viewed on Fox Sports and Telemundo.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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Russell Lewis
As NPR's Southern Bureau chief, Russell Lewis covers issues and people of the Southeast for NPR — from Florida to Virginia to Texas, including West Virginia, Kentucky, and Oklahoma. His work brings context and dimension to issues ranging from immigration, transportation, and oil and gas drilling for NPR listeners across the nation and around the world.
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