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2023 Women’s World Cup: 5 Takeaways from USWNT’s Draw With the Netherlands

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    Lindsay Horan's powerful header was the USWNT's own goal on Wednesday.

    Lindsay Horan’s powerful header was the USWNT’s own goal on Wednesday.Robin Alam/USSF/Getty Images

    Four years ago, the United States women’s national team took down the Netherlands 2-0 in the 2019 Women’s World Cup Final. The two teams met again on a global stage Wednesday in New Zealand.

    Even after Dutch coach Andries Jonkers gave the United States bulletin-board material in the buildup to the meeting, this match ended in a 1-1 draw.

    Jeff Carlisle @JeffreyCarlisle

    The <a href=” is ready for its rematch against <a href=” And Netherlands manager Andries Jonkers with some interesting quotes to my ESPN Netherlands colleagues ahead of the match. <a href=” <a href=”https://t.co/GwmL36esix”>pic.twitter.com/GwmL36esix</a>

    After allowing zero shots in the opening game of their 2023 Women’s World Cup campaign, the clash with the Netherlands was always going to be a much trickier test for the United States. The Netherlands, still a favorite along with the US to emerge from Group E and break into the knockout rounds, have a talented squad and asked real questions of the USWNT, especially in the first half.

    Despite starting slowly, the United States put together a much stronger second half and secured a point.

    What did we learn from the U.S.’s latest World Cup performance? Let’s discuss.

Rose Lavelle Changed the Game

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    Rose Lavelle's presence in midfield changed the outlook of Wednesday's match.

    Rose Lavelle’s presence in midfield changed the outlook of Wednesday’s match.AP Photo/Alysa Rubin

    Many expected to see Rose Lavelle start against the Netherlands in place of Savannah DeMelo, who started against Vietnam a few days earlier. But coach Vlatko Andonovski had other ideas, starting DeMelo and exercising caution with Lavelle as she works her way back to full fitness after suffering an injury on national team duty back in April.

    DeMelo put in a reasonably effective performance in an advanced midfield role for the US, but Lavelle stole the show in the second half after coming on at the intermission. She collected the game-tying assist with a lovely corner-kick delivery to Lindsey Horan (more on Horan, The Angry Set-Piece Menace momentarily).

    It wasn’t just set pieces that helped Lavelle stand out, though. She buzzed around the field in open play, too, creating turnovers, dancing through Dutch defenders and trying to maximize the USWNT’s possession. With Lavelle on the field, the United States outshot the Netherlands 9-3 in the second half and wrested control away from their Group E foes. It’s unfair to attribute all of that improvement to Lavelle, but she was bright.

    Given that the US struggled to string together cohesive attacking sequences without her, there’s no doubt that the best version of the USWNT includes Lavelle in midfield.

Don’t Make Lindsey Horan Mad

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    WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND - JULY 27: Lindsey Horan (10) of United States celebrates a goal during the FIFA Women's World Cup Australia &amp; New Zealand 2023 Group E match between USA and Netherlands at Wellington Regional Stadium on July 27, 2023 in Wellington, New Zealand.

    WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND – JULY 27: Lindsey Horan (10) of United States celebrates a goal during the FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia &amp; New Zealand 2023 Group E match between USA and Netherlands at Wellington Regional Stadium on July 27, 2023 in Wellington, New Zealand. Jose Hernandez/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

    Just don’t do it.

    After taking a hit from Netherlands’ playmaker Daniëlle van de Donk midway through the second half, Lindsey Horan went supernova.

    Well, that’s not entirely true. First, she got angry. Then she and van de Donk got a talking-to in the box from the referee. And then she went supernova, scoring the United States’ only goal of the game with a thumping header in the 62nd minute.

    Horan tallied against Vietnam after a lovely right-footed through ball from Sophia Smith last week. She played a few useful passes in this game, but against the Netherlands, she changed things with her head more than anything else.

    Starting her run from the middle of the box, Horan curled towards the right side to connect with Lavelle’s perfect in-swinging corner kick. The Netherlands, who opted for a zonal-marking approach that failed to apply any real pressure to Horan, were forced to watch as their lead vanished into the afternoon New Zealand sun.

    Horan will continue to be an asset in these dead-ball situations throughout the World Cup. Future opponents would be wise to avoid poking the bear before those dead balls, though.

Andonvoski Has His Go-To Center Back Pairing

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    Julie Ertz has settled in as one of the USWNT's central defenders.

    Julie Ertz has settled in as one of the USWNT’s central defenders.Robin Alam/USSF/Getty Images

    Few expected it when the USWNT’s roster was released ahead of this tournament, but here we are: Julie Ertz is Naomi Girma’s go-to center back partner.

    Andonovski has used Ertz, not Alana Cook, as Girma’s center-back partner in both of their World Cup games so far — and she had some big moments in this game against the Netherlands. Maybe the most important one was a key block on a Dutch shot late in the second half that potentially salvaged a point for the USWNT.

    Using Ertz as a center back and not a No. 6, which is where she played against Ireland in her return to the national team picture earlier this year, clearly has value. Her defensive timing is a major upgrade over Cook and her passing range is a slight improvement, too.

    However, with Ertz defending as a center back, the U.S. loses her mettle in midfield. If Ertz, not Sullivan, had closed down the Dutch in the 17th minute, it’s possible that the US would’ve escaped the first half unscathed.

    Regardless of the wisdom of Andonovski’s decision, one thing is clear: Ertz and Girma are the starting duo for the foreseeable future.

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