Netherlands hosts the US Women’s national team Friday as the reigning World Cup champions return to the pitch for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic.

Alex Morgan
USWNT striker Alex Morgan in the 2019 FIFA World Cup final vs. the Dutch national team. The US women’s team squares off against Netherlands for a friendly rematch on Friday. (Image: Getty)

Superstars Alex Morgan (Tottenham Hotspur), Rose Lavelle (Manchester City), Julie Ertz, Tobin Heath (Manchester United), Christen Press (Manchester United), Sam Mewis (Manchester City), Crystal Dunn made the trek to Rat Verlegh Stadion in Breda for the international friendly game at 12:35 PM (ET) Friday on ESPN2. The USWNT are the favorites at -139, the Dutch at +300.

Captains Rapinoe and Lloyd to Sit Out Friendly

Notably absent for the US are World Cup co-captains Carli Lloyd and Megan Rapinoe. Friday’s selection has led to speculation that Lloyd (38), and Rapinoe (35), may be hanging up their cleats, though US coach Vlatko Andonovski quashed those rumors this week, saying he expects both in camp to train for the Tokyo Games after the first of the year.

“I don’t think that either one of them have moved on,” Andonovski said. “They’re excited and looking forward to January camp.”

Others inactive on Friday from the 2019 World Cup team are Mal Pugh, Morgan Brian, Adrianna French, Ashlyn Harris, Allie Long, Jess McDonald, and Ali Krieger.

Last they met, the US clinched a 2-0 victory over the Dutch side to hoist the World Cup trophy. This will be the clubs’ fourth meeting and the first since the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup Final. The US is leading the series 2-1.

“We had to get back on the field for a real game at some point, so it might as well be against one of the best teams in the world,” Andonovski said Thursday.

Life Changes Mark Return to Pitch

Notables on the Dutch side include the absence of Arsenal star Vivianne Miedema, who has a hip injury. At 24, the striker has scored 71 goals for the Dutch in only 90 games.

Only three of the Dutch UEFA qualifiers were played during the pandemic year. The last time the national team took the pitch resulted in a 1-0 victory over Russia in Moscow in September.

The US team hasn’t played together in nine months, and it has been a time of change headlined by Alex Morgan’s becoming a mother to daughter Charlie. On a pre-game post, she chronicled the challenges of early motherhood and continuing her career during quarantine.