USA’s World Cup ends as lack of firepower is no match for ruthless Netherlands side

AL RAYYAN, Qatar — The US men’s national team are out of the 2022 World Cup after falling 3-1 to the Netherlands in a round-of-16 match-up.

First-half goals from Memphis Depay and Daley Blind — both assisted by Denzel Dumfries — staked the Dutch to a lead they would never relinquish. The US pulled a goal back in the 76th minute through Haji Wright and piled on the pressure, but Dumfries added the clincher in the 81st minute to give the Netherlands some needed breathing room.


For the US, it was a disappointing performance given the team’s success in getting out of the group stage and the talented-though-young group of players at manager Gregg Berhalter’s disposal.

Now the US will look to point to 2026 when it will co-host the World Cup alongside Canada and Mexico.

Netherlands Beat United States 3-1 To Book World Cup Qatar 2022 Quarterfinal Spot
A dejected Christian Pulisic reacts after the Netherlands score their third goal, making a USMNT comeback all the more improbable. With the loss, the Americans are knocked out of the 2022 World Cup. James Williamson/AMA/Getty Images

Rapid reaction

1. Dumfries on fire as the Dutch execute a near-perfect tactical plan

The USA entered this game brimming with confidence, having reached the knockout stages with the second-youngest team in the tournament. That confidence was enhanced by the perception that this Netherlands side was maybe not up to the standards set by their predecessors that had reached three World Cup finals, the last of which was in 2014.

But the Dutch showed the gap in quality that still exists between the two sides.

Dutch manager Louis van Gaal’s tactical game plan was ruthlessly effective. The Dutch were content to let the US have possession and then attack in transition once possession was gained. It had the effect of asking the US to do things it wasn’t good at, namely breaking down an organized defense. It also accentuated some of the Netherlands’ strengths, that of using its technical ability to play through the US press and create transition opportunities.

Netherlands Beat United States 3-1 To Book World Cup Qatar 2022 Quarterfinal Spot
Christian Pulisic of the USMNT following their elimination in the knockout stage of the FIFA World Cup 2022 at Khalifa International Stadium in Doha, Qatar, on Dec. 3.Photographer: James Williamson/AMA/Getty Images

Dumfries was the biggest beneficiary, and the quality from the Netherlands was evident on Depay’s goal in the 10th minute. The Oranje played through the US press to find Dumfries on the wing, and his low cross found Depay in too much space, allowing him to finish with authority.

The Netherlands then delivered a killer in first-half stoppage time, and again it was Dumfries who delivered yet again, with a similar cutback pass that Blind hammered home. The US threw everything forward in a bid to back in the match and gained a lifeline through Wright’s goal. But it was left to Dumfries to provide the capper, hammering home Blind’s lofted ball.

2. USA lacked sharpness all over the field

It all could have been so different. With the game in just the third minute, Tyler Adams pass over the Dutch defense found Christian Pulisic in the clear, but his left-footed shot was saved by Dutch goalkeeper Andries Noppert.

We’ll never know what would have happened if the US had gotten its nose in front. Perhaps it only delayed the inevitable, but it forced the US into an unfamiliar position — that of playing from behind.

There were other chances too. Sergiño Dest made some promising forays from the right wing, but couldn’t get that last crucial touch to get a clear look at goal. And Pulisic had another opportunity to run in space, only for his centering feed to be too far behind two runners in the box.

Netherlands Beat United States 3-1 To Book World Cup Qatar 2022 Quarterfinal Spot
Daley Blind scores the Netherlands’ second goal in their 3-1 win over the USMNT. The Netherlands advance to the World Cup quarterfinals with the win. Matthew Childs/Pool/Getty Images

The problems weren’t just on the attacking end either.

The US defense had been rock solid up to this point, but was riddled with problems on this night, the biggest of which was an inability to sniff out danger. Adams started out the Dutch’s first goal-scoring sequence ahead of Depay, but failed to see his run and was several yards behind him when the Dutchman rifled his shot home. Dest was one of several culprits on the second goal, but failed to notice Daley Blind ghosting into the box.

The subpar play from practically the entire team counts as a major disappointment for the US This was widely viewed as the most talented American team in its history. Now the US will have to wait until 2026.

Will Berhalter be the one to lead them? That is up for debate. While he did well to get the US out of the group stage, the lack of playing time for Reyna remains puzzling. The Americans’ recent history of giving managers a second cycle hasn’t worked out well either, with both Bob Bradley and Jurgen Klinsmann both failing to make it to a second World Cup.

3. The USA’s lack of a striker comes back to bite them

There are some things a team can’t run from, and the US had two big concerns entering this tournament. One was concern about the center-backs, and while the distribution wasn’t to the level of previous games, overall Tim Ream, Walker Zimmerman and Cameron Carter-Vickers held up well.

But the other concern, the lack of a No. 9 who can reliably score goals, never did get solved. Jesus Ferreira was given the start in this match and never looked comfortable with the tempo of the game. It was, after all, the FC Dallas player’s first match since Oct. 24.

Netherlands Beat United States 3-1 To Book World Cup Qatar 2022 Quarterfinal Spot
Denzel Dumfries of Netherlands celebrates after scoring the team’s third goal during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Round of 16 match between Netherlands and USA at Khalifa International Stadium on Dec. 3, 2022, in Doha, Qatar. (Richard Heathcote/Getty Images) Read Less

Ferreira was replaced at halftime by Gio Reyna who took turns with Pulisic in playing as a false nine role — but that tactical maneuver only lasted about 20 minutes, as Haji Wright entered the match in the 65th minute. The sight of Reyna playing in that spot will no doubt stick in the craw of many US fans, as it’s a move that they’ve been clamoring for since the start of the tournament.

In some respects, Berhalter’s hand was forced given that Josh Sargent wasn’t available to play due to the ankle injury he picked up against Iran. But it seemed like Reyna should have had more minutes, and trying him as a false nine should’ve been tried earlier.

The hole at the striker position was illustrated even further with Wright’s introduction. He squandered a glorious opportunity in the 75th minute when picked off an errant back pass, only for a heavy touch to let him down so that his eventual shot was cleared off the line. Even his goal seemed borne more of luck when his deflection of Pulisic’s cross somehow looped into the net.

Finding a solution at that position remains a priority for the next cycle, regardless of who the manager is.

Player ratings

US: Turner 6, Robinson 4, Ream 5, Zimmerman 6, Dest 4, Musah 5, Adams 4, McKennie 5, Pulisic 5, Ferreira 3, Weah 5.

Subs: Reyna 6, Wright 5, Aaronson 5, Yedlin 5, Morris 5

Netherlands: Noppert 7, Aké 6, van Dijk 6, Timber 7, Blind 7, de Jong 7, de Roon 6, Dumfries 9, Klassen 6, Gakpo 7, Depay 7

Subs: Koopmeiners 5, Bergwijn 5, Simons 5, de Ligt 5, Weghorst 5

Netherlands Beat United States 3-1 To Book World Cup Qatar 2022 Quarterfinal Spot
Denzel Dumfries of Netherlands celebrates after scoring the team’s third goal during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Round of 16 match between Netherlands and USA at Khalifa International Stadium on Dec. 3, 2022, in Doha, Qatar. (Richard Heathcote/Getty Images) Read Less

Best and worst performers

BEST: Denzel Dumfries, Netherlands

There was space to be had on the right wing, and Dumfries exploited it to the tune of a goal and two assists. The US would have killed for this kind of precision wide, and his goal was just a reward for outstanding performance.

WORST: Jesus Ferreira, United States

There were plenty of candidates. Antonee Robinson couldn’t contain Dumfries, and Tyler Adams was well off his game. But Ferreira made little to no contribution to the US cause and was deservedly subbed off at halftime for Gio Reyna.

Highlights and notable moments

It took less than 10 minutes for the Netherlands to take the lead.

In transition racing up the field, Denzel Dumfries crossed a ball into the box for Memphis Depay’s late-arriving run, and it was a routine finish: his one-time strike was well-placed away from goalkeeper Matt Turner.

As the first half stretched on at 1-0 and the break neared, the Americans were surely eager to get to halftime down by one goal so they could regroup and prepare to wage a comeback in the second half.

But in the stoppage time of the first half, the Netherlands doubled their lead and gave the USA a deeper hole to try to climb out of as Daley Blind fired a one-time strike past Turner.

The US pulled one back in the 76th minute, but it looked to be a fluke of a goal, with the ball popping off the foot of an unaware Haji Wright.

The dreams of a comeback were soon dashed as Denzel Dumfries scored the Dutch side’s third in the 81st minute for the final 3-1 score.

After the match: What the players and managers said

USA manager Gregg Berhalter on the result: “This is a difficult one to handle, it’s such a good group of guys, such a close group of guys and we came up short today but not for a lack of trying, not for a lack of effort. I think the guys poured everything they had into this game and unfortunately we lost it.”

USA captain Tyler Adams: “A game like that comes down to the margins, obviously, and when you play a team with so much quality like that and you give them three, four chances, they’re gonna put three or four away. And for us, I’m super proud of the boys today. We could show that we can hang with some of the best teams in the world, some of the best players in the world, and that’s a lot of progress for US Soccer. We’re moving in the right direction for sure, but we need to keep pushing cause we’re not there yet but we’re close.”

Adams on this young team having years together before the 2026 World Cup: “It’s exciting, the more time together the more growth we should have. But having said that, we still need to develop individually to more mature players for moments like this so we can come out on top. Like I said, it comes down to the moments and today you can see a little bit more experience team got the better of us. But our youth our potential that we have, we need to maximize that moving forward in the time we have between now and 2026.”

Adams on what Berhalter said to him after the final whistle: “He just patted me on the back and told me to keep my head high. The effort we put into this game today we need to walk off the pitch with our heads held high.”

Key stats 

  • With the result, the Netherlands improves to 14-0-5 (W-L-D) under manager Louis van Gaal.
  • The starting line-up for the Americans was the youngest starting 11 for a World Cup knockout game in the USMNT’s history.
  • Denzel Dumfries is the first Netherlands player with two assists in a World Cup knockout match since our records begin in 1966.
  • The USA conceded their most goals in a World Cup since 2006, when they lost 3-0 to the Czech Republic.
  • Christian Pulisic, with his second assist, joined Graham Zusi and Tab Ramos as the only USMNT players with multiple World Cup assists since 1966. Pulisic and Zusi are the only USMNT players to record multiple assists in the same World Cup — Pulisic in 2022 and Zusi in 2014.

Up next

United StatesThe World Cup is over for the Americans.

Netherlands: The Netherlands advance to the World Cup quarterfinals against the winner of the Argentina vs. Australia match later Saturday.

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