In its 125-year history, Vitesse has never won a major trophy. Its last brush with league success was a third-place finish in the 1997-98 season. It was most recently in the Dutch Cup final in 1990 - the club's third visit to the final round of the Cup, and its third loss in the title game.
Fair to say, therefore, that this year's Cup final is Vitesse's most important game of the season, if not the decade (at least). The team has had a respectable season in Eredivisie - it is currently in sixth place with two games left to play - and may yet win its way into the qualifying rounds of the Europa League. But it would doubtless prefer to win the Cup (and direct entry to the Group Stage of the Europa League) than a consolation berth in the early stages of European competition.
Vitesse's recent form has not been great: it has lost its last two league games, and scored in neither. But there can be reasonable suspicion that the squad has grown increasingly preoccupied by the Dutch Cup final as it has drawn nearer. Prior to the last couple of losses, Vitesse had won three in a row (and four of its last five games) in Eredivisie.
AZ conversely has won its last two in the league, and has lost just one of its last five. The Alkmaar club has fared better in the annual quest for titles than Vitesse: it has won Eredivisie twice and the Cup on four occasions. The last time AZ won the Dutch Cup - in the 2012-13 season - it was assisted by Jozy Altidore, who was the competition's top scorer that season and netted the match-winner in the final.
This year's final will feature another American who made his name with the New York Red Bulls: Matt Miazga is on loan to Vitesse from Chelsea, and has become a regular starter in recent months. Miazga is expected to start for Vitesse against AZ, though it will be a surprise if he follows Altidore's example and scores.
Vitesse will look to one of its other Chelsea loanees for goals: midfielder Lewis Baker is a free-kick specialist, and a regular scorer for the first team. The team's primary goal threat is Ricky van Wolfswinkel, who has scored 18 in league play to date this season.
AZ's top scorers this season are Wout Weghorst (13 league goals this season) and Alireza Jahanbakhsh (eight goals in Eredivisie 2016-17). The squad also contains Trinidadian teenager Levi Garcia. At the back, EPL fans may recognize former Newcastle and Netherlands 'keeper Tim Krul and Aston Villa defender Rob Vlaar.
In league play, Vitesse had the better of matches between the two teams, drawing 2-2 at AZ and winning at home, 2-1. But in Cup finals, AZ has won on four of its five appearances, Vitesse has three times finished as runner-up.
The teams are one point apart in the league, have played two close games to date this season, and can each regard the Cup as the most significant trophy they might win this season.
Per World Soccer Talk, here's where those in the US can find the game: