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UNC Soccer: A Tar Heel guide to the 2019 Women’s World Cup Final

Here’s a look at the roles the former UNC players might be tasked with later today.

England v USA -World Cup Women Photo by Rico Brouwer/Soccrates/Getty Images

Later today, the US women’s national soccer team will take the field for the World Cup Final against the Netherlands.

As was covered a couple days ago, the United States has a history of fielding Tar Heels, and many have gotten the chance to play on the sport’s biggest stage. This year has been no different, as there are five former UNC players on the American roster. With the team about to take the field in another final, here are some things to keep an eye on from a Carolina Blue perspective.

Two Tar Heels have gotten the start in the all the crucial matches so far.

Tobin Heath has started in the attack for a team that has scored 24 goals so far in the tournament, although she herself hasn’t gotten on the score sheet. Meanwhile, Crystal Dunn has been part of a solid US defense that’s allowed just three goals so far. In the last two games in particular, she’s held Kadidiatou Diana and fellow former Tar Heel Lucy Bronze in check, which is no small feat.

In all likelihood, those will be the two Heels in the starting lineup again later today.

On paper, Dunn has the tougher task, as the Netherlands is a team with a decent among of attacking talent. While she won’t be going directly up against her, as a team the US will have to deal with star Dutch striker Vivianne Miedema. Dunn will likely be tasked with keeping one of Shanice van de Sanden or Lineth Beerensteyn in check, the latter of which has scored in the tournament.

As for Heath, she and the US attack will go up against a Dutch defense which has allowed just three goals so far. That being said, they’ve done so against lesser competition than what the US has faced.

The other three will probably not be starting unless coach Jill Ellis springs a surprise on us. Here are some scenarios in which we might see them.

For Jessica McDonald, she’s only played in one match so far. She came in after halftime in the US’s 3-0 win over Chile in the group stage. In her position as a striker, I would presume she’s most likely to come on if the US is behind and in need of a goal. For Allie Long, it’s probably the exact opposite. If the US is ahead and looking to clog things up in the midfield, Long is a pretty good option to put in as a defensive midfielder. The third is Ashlyn Harris, who will likely only get the nod should starting goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher suffer an injury.

Today’s game will kick off at 11 AM ET, and can be seen on your local FOX affiliate, or on the FOX Sports Go streaming app.