US knocked out of World Cup by Netherlands in gut-wrenching game


Javier Centellas, staff writer

Although the outcome may have been expected by many, America’s 3-1 loss against the Netherlands was nevertheless disappointing. The match, which was the first round of sixteen games in the FIFA World Cup, took place on December 3, 2022 in Al Thumama stadium.

The US played in a 4-3-3 formation, with a starting lineup that many fans expected, with fan favorites such as Christian Pulisic, Timothy Weah, Matt Turner, Tyler Adams and Weston McKennie once again being on the starting eleven players. As usual, there was a disappointing lack of Giovanni Reyna, a fact that changed at halftime when he took Jesus Ferreira’s place on the pitch. The Dutch ran a 3-4-1-2 formation, and a starting lineup that gave few surprises, with captain Virgil van Dijk playing alongside Cody Gakpo, Memphis Depay, Denzel Dumfries, and Daley Blind, to name a few. The Dutch used up all five of their substitutions, seemingly to just give the various players more minutes, as all the subs occurred after they had a comfortable 2-0 lead over the Americans.

The Dutch were seeminly in a hurry to win the game, with Depay (assisted by Dumfries) scoring an early goal at the 10th minute. This left the US in a panic. This marks his twenty-fourth goal in the last thirty international appearances. American hopes grew slimmer in the final moments of the first half, with Dumfries once again acting as the assist, this time for Daley Blind, when the Netherlands drew the score up to 2-0 in stoppage time.

Following the halftime substitutions and strategy resets, both teams once agains took to the field. During the 76th minute, American player Haji Wright scored a goal for the US, quickly turning hopes around for the American fans. Sadly, these newly kindled hopes were dashed by blind crossing the ball to Dumfries, who brought the score up to 3-1, a mere five minutes after the US goal. Partially because they were trailing the entire time, the US kept up the pressure the entire match, a flaw seen in the previous group stage. No one wants to be the one to miss a potentially game-winning shot. The US aims to get the ball into point blank range to shoot, however when against a defense like that of the Netherlands, the plan invariably fails, with the only US goal appearing to be a fortunate misstep by Haji Wright.

Another glaring flaw in the US’s play is their overall sloppiness. For some reason, despite having such great players, they seem to be unable to play well together. It is unknown to me if it is player error or coaching, but due to the odd lack of Reyna, I believe it is the latter.

Speaking of Reyna, he didn’t make the impact many fans were hoping for, however this can be chalked up to tired players, as Reyna played well, giving the Netherlands a bit of a scare, however he was unable to properly play due to exhausted teammates.

One cannot deny the beauty in this trio. All of them scored in the same manner, it is obvious that the cross had been well practiced.

Although the close attack strategy does not work well for the American offense, the Dutch players are, to put it simply, more experienced than the American ones, and know how to properly pick a defense apart. Throughout the game, US goalkeeper Matt Turner had been kept on his toes seemingly the whole time, making many heroic saves, but unable to block all of the well-aimed Dutch shots.

The Dutch defense needs no introduction. While player error on the American side had some influence, the Dutch were able to keep sixteen of their seventeen shots from making the net, forming a metaphorical iron wall. Almost any time the US brought the ball into the Dutch side of the field, it would either get blocked by the keeper, find it’s way out of bounds, or get repossessed and moved back down the pitch.

Following this gut-wrenching game, the Netherlands moved on to the quarterfinals, where they lost to Argentina in Lusail Stadium. The Dutch have long proved to be a sleeper team, often called “the best team to never win”, as they have placed several times in the competition, but never won the tournament in it’s 92 year history.

Despite now being out of the championship, and me constantly calling out their mistakes, I can- not help but be proud of the American team. The next World Cup, in four years, will be a joint hosting between Canada, Mexico, and the US, and due to this, the US team will automatically qualify. The US had the youngest average lineup of the entire World Cup, and it can be hoped that, with more experience under their belts, a refined US team may have a chance, however slim, to win it all in 2026.