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The 3 key moments in the U.S.-Netherlands match at the Women's World Cup

Lindsey Horan of USA celebrates after scoring her team's only goal against the Netherlands at the 2023 Women's World Cup group match on July 27, 2023 in Wellington, New Zealand.
Catherine Ivill
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Getty Images
Lindsey Horan of USA celebrates after scoring her team's only goal against the Netherlands at the 2023 Women's World Cup group match on July 27, 2023 in Wellington, New Zealand.

Updated July 27, 2023 at 11:46 AM ET

The Women's World Cup game between the U.S. and the Netherlands had been highly-anticipated and the two soccer heavyweights did not disappoint. They played to a 1-1 draw heading into the third and deciding game of group play next week.

But for the U.S. this was a most uncharacteristic Women's World Cup game and it began to unravel in the 17th minute in Wellington, New Zealand.

#1 — Netherlands scores on U.S. breakdown

The U.S. had controlled the early part of the match against the ninth-ranked Netherlands. But the Dutch pierced the U.S. defense. A powerful strike by midfielder Jill Roord zipped by the outstretched arms of American goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher.

It was 1-0 Netherlands and even more significantly it was the first time the top-ranked U.S. had trailed in the Women's World Cup since the 2011 tournament — a record span of 17 matches.

As the first half went on, the U.S. wasn't itself. This was a rematch of the 2019 WWC final. But this was not the same U.S. team. Of the 23 players at this tournament, 14 are at their first World Cup - guided by U.S. coach Vlatko Andonovski who is making his WWC debut.

"They look tired. They looked flat," said former USWNT star Carli Lloyd on Fox Sports during halftime.

#2 — A key change made at halftime

The second key moment of the game happened inside the U.S. locker room during the break. "The mentality is what changed the most. The belief. The belief is what got them going and got them through," said coach Andonovski.

The U.S. started the second half substituting star midfielder Rose Lavelle into the game (she's been injured) and the whole team came out with an attacking mentality and it showed.

Lindsey Horan of USA heads to score her team's first goal in the Women's World Cup match against the Netherlands on July 27, 2023 in Wellington, New Zealand.
Buda Mendes / Getty Images
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Getty Images
Lindsey Horan of USA heads to score her team's first goal in the Women's World Cup match against the Netherlands on July 27, 2023 in Wellington, New Zealand.

#3 — Don't make Lindsey Horan mad. Really.

The third key moment happened in the 62nd minute when American co-captain Lindsey Horan headed the ball in the back of the net off a corner kick to even the score 1-1.

But it actually started three minutes earlier when Horan was knocked to the turf on a hard challenge by Daniëlle van de Donk of the Netherlands. Horan was still mad and just before that corner kick, she shoved and chirped at van de Donk (her friend and teammate at Lyon). The referee pulled the two aside and took the unusual step to try to calm Horan down. Horan channeled her ongoing frustration into a beautiful header.

As she jogged back for the kickoff, she had a wry smile and pointed up to the sky knowing that her second goal of this tournament kept her team in the hunt as it looks to advance to the knockout round.

The U.S. next plays Portugal Tuesday and the Netherlands takes on Vietnam.

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

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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