For American soccer fans, Qatar’s World Cup was a chance to shock the world and see what an impressive young squad can do. While the United States Men’s National Team did meet expectations, they will still return home disappointed.
The Netherlands defeated the United States 3-1 in Saturday’s World Cup knockout round match. The loss eliminated the United States from the World Cup.
The United States attempted to fight back, but ultimately the lead widened to 2-0 when Dumfries assisted again, this time looping the ball to a wide-open Daley Blind.
After the first half, American coach Gregg Berhalter deployed a false-9, substituting Giovani Reyna for starting striker Jesús Ferreira. This changed the focus of the attack, emphasizing ball movement over punching it in. And for a short time tactical change worked.
The United States placed significantly more pressure on the Dutch throughout the second half. Haji Wright was able to score an impressive, although likely accidental, backheel flick into the net in the 76th minute, skyrocketing the American side’s hopes. Forward Christian Pulisic was credited with the assist.
This was quickly quelled by Denzel Dumfries, who just five minutes later who rocketed a volley past Matt Turner, putting the game to bed. Dumfries was man of the match after his one-goal, two-assist game.
“We made progress but on this particular night we came up short,” said USMNT coach Gregg Berhalter.
Berhalter blamed the lack of quality on the Americans’ lack of attacking quality and experience.
“There was offensive quality that the Netherlands had that we’re lacking a little bit. We don’t have a Memphis Depay right now, who plays at Barcelona and has played in the Champions League for years. Those are not excuses. That stuff is going to come,” said Berhalter.
While it is true that the United States lacks experience, this is not the reason for their loss. One can look at the lack of a multifaceted, potent striker like Ricardo Pepi on the American roster. Wright was largely ineffective, and Ferreira, bluntly, was unplayable.
The American backline looked outclassed throughout the match. Sergiño Dest failed to effectively mark Dutch attackers throughout the match, as did Walker Zimmerman. Antonee Robinson was nowhere to be found on Dumfries’ goal.
Ultimately the match disappointed, but what the USMNT accomplished should be lauded. The American side made it out of the group stage after failing to even qualify for the 2018 World Cup. And to do so with the second youngest team at the tournament unto itself is impressive. Qatar’s World Cup will ultimately be a moment to build on for a promising American squad.