The United States’ 2022 World Cup dream ended on Saturday, as the Americans fell 3-1 to the Netherlands in the Round of 16.
Gregg Berhalter made two changes to the side that beat Iran on Saturday, bringing Walker Zimmerman back into the lineup and giving Jesús Ferreira his first minutes of the tournament in place of the injured Josh Sargent.
On the pitch
Christian Pulisic nearly fired the U.S. off to a perfect start just three minutes in, but his left-footed effort was saved at close range by Andries Noppert. The Dutch punished the miss when Memphis Depay fired the Oranje ahead in the 10th minute. It was a preventable goal to allow, with the otherwise exemplary Tyler Adams failing to track Depay’s late run.
After the goal, the Americans began to fight back into the match, but were undone again right before halftime on a carbon copy of the first goal. This time it was Daley Blind who was left unmarked at the back post, wide open to bury a cutback cross and deliver a dagger blow to the U.S. just before the break.
Berhalter made adjustments at the break, replacing the completely ineffective Ferreira with Gio Reyna, who himself struggled to make an impact. The U.S. were limited to mostly half chances until substitute Haji Wright pounced on a poor backpass, but his heavy touch took away his shooting angle and saw a golden chance go missing.
Wright redeemed himself minutes later. He swung a boot at Pulisic’s cross, scuffing his shot but somehow looping the ball up and over Noppert into the goal.
Minutes later, the Dutch brutally killed the game off. With the U.S. pushing numbers forward for an equalizer, Denzel Dumfries was left completely unmarked at the back post, gifted an easy finish past Matt Turner to secure a ticket to the quarterfinals.
The big picture
It was a disappointing low after the high of Tuesday’s win, and a clear look at the ways this team needs to grow. They weren’t overmatched, but were outclassed in both boxes and undone by simple defensive lapses.
The lack of a goalscoring number nine, or even one who could act as a focal point in attack, severely limited them in possession. And the complete failure to mark attackers in the box killed them. The Netherlands had four good chances. They finished three of them.
There’s a lot to process from this World Cup. There are a lot of positives and some clear areas that need improvement. In 2026, the World Cup is coming here.