The US lost 3-1 against the run of play.
This was the biggest game for the USA (since the last one of course). It is typical of a knockout tournament, for each game to be bigger than the last, and we knew that about the US when it faced England, Iran and now the Netherlands.
But this game was bigger because it would be their last in the tournament as the Netherlands showed that they are a class above. The concern that the US would embarrass itself had disappeared. But now, they were playing with house money. Too bad, they crushed and burned.
They did start off the game pretty hot though. In the 3rd minute, Dest crossed the ball in from the far post only to be headed away but it got directly to Pulisic in the middle of the box, and the keeper had to extend his long legs to keep it a draw.
The US kept on pressing and looked like the better team. Pulisic raced down the left flank and put a dangerous cross for striker Weah, that is headed clear but the magnificent Adams quickly won the ball back and tried his luck too.
But it would be the Dutch who would take the lead. As good teams do, you usually need one chance to win the game. And a good string of passes in the midfield happened. The first touch from Dumfries on the right was played back to Memphis, to use his preferred name, at the top of the box, and he ripped it into the net.
US then continued the match with more possession football. They kept organizing from the back and using target man Pulisic.
They were comfortably knocking the ball around in midfield but couldn’t find a way through as the Netherlands seemed to have figured things out. The Dutch were dropping back and getting back from counters against an error-prone defense.
The US kept on with their full-on assault. They worked out a nice combination down the left but couldn’t get a shot out of it. They would probably need to have 50 tries at the dutch defense to get close to goal.
So, they try again. The next time it was Weah who absolutely blasted it from 22 yards out and stung Noppert’s hands as the big Dutch keeper reacts well.
And then, one minute of stoppage time was added which seemed too much for the US because they conceded again from the efficient Dutch. Dumfries worked on the right, barely had the space to get in a cross, but Blind raced onto it and slammed it home.
The second half will also see the US try better. A chance was cleared off the line as the ball fell to Ream on a corner, and the least likely US player to score nearly did but can’t get much oomph at close range in tight space.
And then shortly after another chance would be squandered with Mckennie shooting over the bar when set up brilliantly by Reyna.
The Dutch would get a chance on their usual counter too. They broke out with Robinson recovering well. There’s a scramble, and Memphis ended up forcing Turner to palm it over the bar.
But who really needs to have clinical finishes when you can scramble and put it through as the US scored their consolation goal. The US took a weird looping touch off a great Pulisic cross that Wright somehow scuffed into the air and over everyone in the 76th minute.
But the glimmer of hope they got would be squashed as a deserved goal for the superb Dumfries, who took advantage of Robinson’s wandering toward the middle came through. Blind saw him, crossed over everyone in the middle of the box, and Dumfries took it well with his left foot. There was no chance for Turner.
In the past, the US would’ve come out timidly for a game like this.
What we’ve seen in this Cup is a team attacking like demons and pinning back their opponents. They’re not just doing it to some Concacaf also-ran or Iran. They’ve done it to England and now the Netherlands.
That’s undoubtedly a sign of progress.
If only there could be some combination of this possession panache and either a Tab Ramos in midfield or a Brian McBride up front.
You could say this game has been unfortunate, that the US haven’t seen a just reward for their play in this game. But they’ve made mistakes, and the Dutch have punished them. Three times – all when the US was in the ascendancy.
Anyway, this world cup is not a game of ifs, it is a game of upsets and winners and this time the Dutch go through. They face the winner of Australia and Argentina.