The dominant U.S. women’s national soccer team faces off against the Netherlands Sunday in the 2019 World Cup final, and outspoken co-captain and internet sensation Megan Rapinoe is expected to join them.

Rapinoe was a surprising scratch from the team’s semifinal victory over England due to a hamstring injury, but told reporters it won’t prevent her from suiting up on Sunday. Rapinoe also addressed the controversy created by teammate Alex Morgan, who mockingly acted like she was sipping tea following Team USA’s win over England.

“Wah, wah, wah. I mean, we’re at the World Cup. What do you want us to do?” Rapinoe rhetorically asked reporters on Wednesday. “This is the biggest stage, the biggest moment. I don’t think anyone truly believes we disrespect the game or disrespect our opponents.”

The United States, which also stoked controversy by celebrating as the team ran up the score against Thailand during the knockout round, is favored by one goal over the Netherlands, who won the European Championship in 2017 but is playing in just their second World Cup. A win would be the fourth World Cup title for the U.S. women’s team (they also won in 1991, 1999, and 2015), while no other country has more than two.

The World Cup has garnered strong television ratings here in the United States. Team USA’s win over England drew 7.03 million viewers on Fox, and another 1.02 million viewers watched the Spanish-language coverage provided by NBC-owned Telemundo. According to Sports Media Watch, the women’s World Cup is averaging 1.4 million viewers across Fox Sports, which is actually up 6 percent compared to 2015, when the games were played in Canada had the advantage of airing in primetime.

Despite the ratings success of this year’s World Cup, and the strong interest in the U.S. women’s team in particular, FIFA also scheduled the finals of two other men’s soccer tournaments — the Copa América and Concacaf Gold Cup — on Sunday, a move Rapinoe called “ridiculous and disappointing.”

CONCACAF President Victor Montagliani told Sports Illustrated’s Grant Wahl last month the decision to schedule all three games on the same day was “simply an error,” and that there was no intent to undermine the U.S. women’s team.

“Ultimately they’re the masters of the schedule, and maybe someone fell asleep at the switch,” Montagliani said of FIFA, which has defended having all three finals on the same day as a way to garner more attention for the sport.

United States vs. Netherlands: Women’s World Cup final

When: Sunday, July 7

Where: Stade de Lyon, Lyon, France

Time: 11 a.m. Eastern

TV: Fox (JP Dellacamera, Aly Wagner), Telemundo (Copán Álvarez, Viviana Vila)

Streaming: Fox Sports Go app (requires cable authentication), FuboTV, YouTube TV, DirecTV Now, Hulu + Live TV, SlingTV (all require a subscription)

Media coverage

Fox’s pregame coverage begins at 10 a.m. with a one-hour edition of FIFA Women’s World Cup Live, hosted by Rob Stone and Jenny Taft alongside studio analysts including Heather O’Reilly, Kelly Smith, Ari Hingst, Eni Aluko, and Alexi Lalas. Both Stone and Taft will return to host the hour-long FIFA Women’s World Cup Today after the match.

Fox Soccer Tonight, a mix of highlights and analysis of both the Women’s World Cup and the CONCACAF Gold Cup, will air at 11:30 p.m. Sunday on FS1, hosted by Kate Abdo alongside analysts and former U.S. stars Christie Rampone and Landon Donovan.

World Cup final prediction

I asked my colleague Jonathan Tannenwald, who covers soccer for the Inquirer and correctly predicted a U.S.-Netherlands Women’s World Cup final, for his thoughts about Sunday’s match-up:

I picked a U.S.-Netherlands final before the World Cup started, and while I didn’t think it would happen this way, it’s nice to be right every once in a while. I still think the U.S. will win. The Dutch didn’t look all that great in their semifinal win over Sweden, though winger Shanice van de Sanden got the message about being benched and played well as a substitute.
The Netherlands are the only major European squad that the Americans haven’t played in the last year and a half. The teams haven’t met since September of 2016, 10 months before the Dutch rose to prominence by winning the 2017 European Championship on home soil. They’ve kept improving since. And they will bring a ton of fans to the game, all dressed in bright orange, including a fun college-style marching band.
But the U.S. has the better talent, and the cohesion to put it together. They’re playing with a spirit and fire that’s stronger than any I’ve ever seen in the 16 years I’ve covered the program. A fourth star is theirs for the taking, and I think they take it.

Previous U.S. World Cup matches

Here’s how the U.S. women’s team ended up in Sunday’s World Cup final against Netherlands:

Semifinals

July 2: United States 2, England 1

Quarterfinals

June 28: United States 2, France 1

Round of 16

June 24: United States 2, Spain 1

Group Stage

June 20: United States 2, Sweden 0

June 16: United States 3, Chile 0

June 11: United States 13, Thailand 0