Game Preview: Netherlands vs. USA

Game Preview: Netherlands vs. USA

Javier Centellas, staff writer

The US Men’s National Team sets its sights on the knockout round of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. Kickoff is set for Saturday at 9 AM CT against the Dutch. This match will be slightly different from the previous Group Stage matches, as a draw is no longer an option. If the score is tied, a maximum of 30 minutes of overtime may be added, before resorting to a penalty kick shootout. Furthermore, the stakes at these matches will be higher, as unlike the previous matches, a single loss will remove a team from the tournament. 

The American team is coached by Gregg Berhalter, with Tyler Adamsn donning the captain’s armband. Despite injury in the previous match, after suffering a pelvic contusion while scoring the game-winning goal, star player Christian Pulisic, #10, has stated that he will return  for the match. However, a question among fans is whether or not Giovanni Reyna, #7, will play at this match. Despite being considered one of the star players on the U.S. team, Reyna has only played for a few short minutes, being subbed in at the 83rd minute of the U.S.-Wales game.

The Dutch lineup will be coached by Louis Van Gaal who will be stepping down from the position after this World Cup. The Amsterdam native has played the sport himself as a midfielder, before retiring and becoming a coach. His career in coaching began at Dutch club AZ, starting out as an assistant before moving to the club Ajax, where he eventually became head coach in 1991. 

While at Ajax, he won multiple championships, including a UEFA Champions League. He moved to FC Barcelona in 1997 where he once again did well, winning two league titles and a Copa Del Rey. He moved to become coach of the Dutch national team in 2000, however he left in 2002, after he failed to qualify for the World Cup. 

Next, he returned to Barcelona for a season, until he transferred back to AZ in 2005, where he earned another league championship. Following this, he coached Bayern Munich from 2009-2011, during which he won the German Bundesliga. Following this success, he returned as the coach of the Dutch national team, in preparation for the 2014 World Cup, where the team qualified and eventually took third place. Following this, he coached Manchester United until 2016, and during this time he won a FA Cup. He was brought back on for the Dutch team in 2021 for this World Cup.

The Dutch captain, Virgil Van Dijk, #4, is equally formidable, as the 6’5 center back started his career at Groningen in 2011, before transferring to Celtic in 2013. He played another two years there, before he moved to the English team Southampton, until moving once again to Liverpool in 2018. He has scored 40 goals in over 400 appearances, and is considered a star defender, with a transfer value of over 50 million dollars, and, most importantly, is considered a good enough leader to wear the captain’s armband.

Another Dutch player the American team must keep an eye on is Cody Gakpo, #11,  who has already scored 3 goals this tournament, tied with 3 other players for most goals, and in total has scored 53 goals during 118 appearances, both for the Netherlands and Dutch club PSV, mainly as a winger. 

The Netherlands is heavily favored to win, having placed in (but never won) multiple World Cups, as well as winning several other championships. Although the U.S. has played well (mainly during the first half, and then petered out during the second), it is unknown if they can beat what is considered a European powerhouse. 

However, it is worth noting that the U.S. and the Netherlands have played some matches before, between 1998 and 2015, although none of them in a competitive manner. However, of these friendly matches, the Netherlands won four of them, (it is worth noting that two of those were only won by one point)  and the match in June of 2015 (the most recent match), was an American victory, winning 4-3. Although a victory against the Dutch team is definitely possible, it will undeniably be a close match and extremely difficult to win. 

In order for the U.S. to win, two things must happen: before the game even starts, a new starting lineup needs to be used, and a star player like Reyna should be put in. However, changing the lineup won’t matter, unless the team’s general mentality changes as well. The American team must also keep up its motivation and focus, not only until they secure a one point lead, but after that, and throughout the entire game. If both of these things are done, the U.S. may very well have a chance to take another victory home from Qatar, and possibly place in a World Cup for the first time since 1930.