Netherlands end USA’s return to the World Cup
After going down 2-0 at the half, the Americans got one back before the Dutch killed it off as it ended 3-1.
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The run of the U.S. National Team at the 2022 World Cup had piqued the interest from many non-soccer fan Americans — after failing to qualify for the 2018 tournament — ended in heartbreak today as they lost 3-1 to a well-drilled and organized Netherlands squad.
After an emotional 1-0 win vs. Iran that booked them their spot into the Round of 16, the U.S. looked well poised and capable of taking on a Dutch side that even while they stayed undefeated throughout the group stages, are not a team that plays with a lot of speed or flair, but rather pragmatically wait for their chances on the counterattack. It was a recipe that worked in their favor once again against Gregg Berhalter’s men.
It was surprisingly a great and fast start for the USMNT and looked promising, but only for the first 10 minutes.
They looked adventurous, full of life, and aggressive with their play. Unfortunately for them, they blinked an eye for a second and found themselves 1-0 down before they knew it, and then down 2-0 seconds before the half-time whistle.
Barcelona forward and Dutch goal-scoring ace Memphis Depay gave Netherlands a 1-0 lead after 10 minutes, rocketing home a powerful shot from the top of the box. The Dutch started a quick 20-pass play that had the Americans scrambling around the midfield and in two quick passes were able split their defense open.
The ball fell to breakout Dutch star Cody Gakpo who has three goals in this tournament thus far — taking a break from scoring this go round — and was part of the build up play who sent it out to the right side for a running Denzel Dumphries.
The Inter Milan fullback delivered a cross just behind the American defense that found an open Depay who clinically put it into the back of the net. After taking the lead, the Americans seemed to kick it into gear but still found it difficult to create anything due to the Dutch dropping back deep whenever the U.S. did have possession, to which they had a lot of in the first-half — 68% to 32%.
They also looked gassed at times because of the amount of high-level defending they were forced to do whenever the Dutch were on the counterattack as they were chasing down the likes of Depay, Frenkie de Jong, and Cody Gakpo. While just 1-0 down, the U.S. had hope of getting it together as this World Cup has shown that no matter the score, it is never too late for a comeback — but then it was.
Quite literally seconds before halftime, the Dutch side scored another that was comparable to the first goal in terms of where the ball was delivered from, where it landed, and how it was scored. This time however, Dumfries got possession after a botched throw-in and delivered it into the box and it was veteran Daley Blind who beat speedster Sergino Dest to make it 2-0.
The second-half was a real chance for the U.S. to get their heads together and figure out a way to dig themselves out of such a big hole. Berhalter opted for Jesus Ferreira — his first match in the tournament — as his number nine for this fixture, but his lackluster first half was enough to warrant a swap for Gio Reyna, who had not seen much time in the tournament, much to the disdain of many American and Borussia Dortmund fans.
It was finally game-on at the 76th as the U.S. got one back. After initially wasting a chance less than a minute earlier, Haji Wright scored one off a Pulisic low cross.
Wright attacked the near post and magically, somehow redirected it with his heel. The ball went high and over Dutch keeper Noppert and it fell over the line. It would be an exciting five minutes before Holland delivered the nail in the coffin.
Blind saw an inexplicably wide-open Dumfries in the box with his hand up. He delivered a clean cross on his foot, and the fullback kicked it first time past Matt Turner. Dumfries ended with a goal and two assists.
Despite tonight’s elimination, the American’s making it into the Round of 16 after failing to qualify for the tournament just four years ago is for a lack of a better word, a successful tournament.
And the U.S. team was the second youngest of the tournament and in four years, when the U.S. are the host nation, many of these players will be in their prime, playing for better and bigger clubs, and will have a lot more experience and quality of play to match-up with some of the powerhouses.
But for now, it’s fair play to the Dutch, who are now in the quarterfinals with a date with the winner of the Argentina and Australia fixture later today.