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Local fans gather for big game
USWNT wins fourth World Cup
soccer game
Local fans react at Friend’s American Grill on July 7 as the USWNT scores a goal in the 2019 World Cup Final against the Netherlands. The US went on to win 2-0. - photo by Bob Christian

Nick Cain, the training manager at Friend’s American Grill, was prepared for a big crowd July 7 for the final of the 2019 Women’s World Cup Tournament featuring the United States versus Netherlands.

“We’ve been getting calls about it all week,” Cain said. “I have definitely scheduled the staff for a lot of people.”

With his doors opening at 11 a.m., the exact same time as kick-off, Cain was quickly proven right as a small crowd immediately settled in front of the big screen TV featuring the game.

A pair of young soccer players made sure to get the best seats in the house as Maddie Wiley and Katie Storr, both playing their first year of the sport, guided their families into the center booth.

“I think its good, its very exciting to watch them,” Wiley said. “Since we’ve gotten more into soccer.”

Storr quickly agreed with her friend but she also hoped to be able pick up a few tricks to use on the field.

“We’ve been playing a lot of soccer lately,” Storr said. “I want to watch and learn. See how they set things up.”

There were plenty of opportunities for learning as set plays dominated the match with the United States receiving five first half corner kicks and a pair of incredible chances in front of the net during the 37th minute.

Dutch keeper Sari Van Veenendaal was the key reason the Netherlands remained alive as the US women stayed on the attack with 12 shots to no avail, and the first have ended with the teams tied at zero. Veenendaal’s play gave Artur Schaeler, the only Dutch fan, hope.

“The Netherlands will win if the U.S. makes a big mistake,” Schaeler said.

He admitted to not being a life-long fan but felt the need to cheer for L’Orange in the face of such a powerful U.S. team.

“Netherlands are definitely the underdogs, but I like cheering for underdogs,” Schaeler said. “The United States is favored to win every time; it would be nice to see someone fresh.”

It appeared that he may get his wish as the second half of the game remained tight until the 61st minute when a video review awarded a penalty kick to the United Sates. Team captain Megan Rapinoe buried the shot in the back corner of the net to put the U.S. up 1-0.

Video Assistant Referees or (VAR) has been a source of controversy throughout the 2019 Women’s World Cup, and the general consensus among the fans gathered around the bar, despite the call in this case going in favor of the United States, was that (VAR) is ruining the game.

Any controversy that may have been caused was quickly erased eight minutes later as Rose Lavelle penetrated the Dutch defense for a devastating solo strike that double the lead to 2-0. The goal marked the team’s 26th goal of the tournament to set the Women’s World Cup record for team goals.

The Netherlands have proven to be a late-game threat in their run for the Cup, scoring 9-of-11 goals in the second half or stoppage time, but the United States defense continued to be impenetrable and the U.S. Women’s National Team went on to win their fourth World Cup, and become the only team with back-to-back wins since Germany in 2003 and 2007.

Head Coach Jill Ellis becomes the only coach to have the won the World Cup twice as she remains undefeated in tournament play, while Rapinoe, with six tournament goals captured the coveted Golden Ball as the tournament’s best player.

Celebrating the U.S. victory with his daughter, Andrew Storr summed up the game with a single word.

“Dominating.”