United Kingdom

USWNT’s World Cup title defense begins in earnest with a 2019 Netherlands rematch

WELLINGTON, New Zealand — Cliches spilled out of U.S. women’s national team camp over the past month and disguised the true nature of the World Cup group stage. Players would insist that they respected Vietnam; that they were taking Group E one game at a time; that they were focused on their opener.

But looming on Matchday 2, Thursday here in Wellington (Wednesday, 9 p.m. ET, Fox), is a rematch of the 2019 final, a showdown with the Netherlands, a meeting of top-10 teams that will likely yield a group winner.

“So, obviously, that was in the back of our minds,” U.S. forward Alex Morgan admitted Tuesday. “For sure. And when we drew [the Dutch back in October], we immediately knew it was gonna be a good matchup.”