Netherlands 3 – 1 USA
(Round of 16, Khalifa International Stadium, 03/12/2022)
Coming into the game both teams went undefeated in the group stage. The Netherlands achieved two wins and a draw; the USA getting two draws and a single victory.
Back in Holland, and with their fans in Qatar, there has been much criticism relating to the way the team plays. Louis van Gaal’s riposte was that the team plays winning football. The Dutch endured lean times, and some pretty. poor results, before van Gaal took control of the national team for the third time. They have not lost since his arrival.
The USA, the only CONCACAF team to survive the group stage, depend heavily on Pulisic, so his recovery from a heavy knock sustained in the 1-0 win over Iran, a game in which he scored, will come as a great relief. Scoring only twice in the three group stage games indicates that they have some issues up front.
Both sets of fans are vociferous, though the support for the USA in the stadium seemed far outnumber that for the Netherlands.
2 minutes. Knoppert’s clearance goes over Blind and out for a throw-in. Dest throws short to Ferreira who returns the ball. Dest runs down the line and crosses. The ball is headed clear by de Roon. With the ball dropping a few yards outside the penalty area, Depay stumbles and the ball bounce up for Adams. He hooks the ball back into the box. On the 18-yard line Pulisic turns towards goal and shoots first-time from around 12 yards with his left. It’s on target but straight at the goalkeeper, Knoppert saving with his left shin. Ake stops the ball going out for a comer and clears upfield. As Pulisic shot, Dumfries was claiming offside. The American was clearly onside. A costly miss perhaps.
9 minutes. After a wonderful 21 pass move, the Dutch take the lead through Depay. Starting with a pass backpass to Knoppert, the Dutch play the ball back and forth, along the back line, occasionally probing a little forward. This draws the Americans in, naively trying to press high up the pitch. The ploy also sees the midfield trio of Adams, McKennie and Musah all stranded in the Dutch half between the centre circle and the touchline (American right, Dutch left) leaving their defence exposed. Passes 15, 16, 17, 18 and 19 saw the Dutch move the ball from halfway inside their own half on the left to 30 yards inside the American half on the right with all the American defenders turned and running towards their own goal. Pass number 20 is a diagonal ball out to Dumfries on the right, wide of the penalty area. He runs in and cuts the ball back, pass 21, into the area. Depay running towards the penalty spot simply strokes the ball home first-time with his right, the ball curling slightly away from Turner’s dive to find the bottom left corner of the net. A wonderful move () and a superb finish from Depay who was picked out brilliantly by Dumfries. The goal of the tournament so far. The goal of the tournament?
42 minutes. Midway inside the Dutch half, Dest heads the ball out wide to Weah on the right. His attempted cross is blocked by Ake and headed on by Blind. Dest takes the ball back and runs, initially past de Jong, towards the box. With his path blocked by de Jong and Blind, Dest turns back playing the ball back out wide before Klaassen can take it away from him. Musah plays the ball back to Adams who flicks it on to Dest. Dest’s cross is not well-directed and cleared by de Roon just inside the box. The ball goes straight to Weah who controls and fires in a stinging drive. The shot is on target bringing out a fine save by Knoppert diving to his left in front of the post. The parry finds Adams whose attempted cut back is cleared by Klaassen.
45 minutes. Only 1 minute is to be added on.
45+1 minutes. About 15 yards inside his own half Dumfries picks up a loose ball. He runs forward, passing inside to Gakpo. Continuing his run, Dumfries takes the ball on with Gakpo calling for a pass. Instead, Dumfries tries to cross the ball which goes out off Ream. Dumfries throws in short to de Roon who attempts to return it to Dumfries. The ball loops up slightly allowing Ferreira to hook it away, only to find Klaassen near the right corner of the area. Klaassen passes the ball forward along the edge of the box to Dumfries. Adams runs back preparing to challenge but Dumfries evades the American shifting the ball to his right and turning back. With Adams beaten, Dumfries cuts the ball back towards the penalty spot. Running in from the far side and past Dent, Blind strikes the ball into the net first-time with his right from around the penalty spot. Another great goal. Well worked with a good ball in and a slick finish – only Blind’s third goal in 98 internationals. The bench are ecstatic. Two assists for Dumfries.
45+2 minutes. The first half ends.
The first half was a van Gaal tactical masterclass. The Americans started strongly playing in their usual style: high tempo, strong running, great commitment and enthusiasm. They expected the Dutch to respond like-for-like. The Netherlands did not. Instead, they played the game in their own way and at their own pace. They did not press high, preferring to put a defensive barrier up in midfield. After the initial onslaught that strategy worked well. The Americans didn’t seem to be able to work things out. Also the opening goal, and perhaps more so its excellence, seemed to deflate their confidence massively. Two shots and two goals for the Dutch. Never-the-less they deserved their half time lead.
The second half starts with Reyna replacing the ineffective Ferreira for the USA; Bergwijn replaces de Roon and Koopmeiners replaces Klaassen for the Netherlands.
48 minutes. A clearance down the middle from just outside the 6-yard box finds McKennie. His attempted pass out to the left is blocked, going back to him. He turns and makes a surging run through midfield before sending a pass forward out to the right for Weah. He runs towards the byline intending to cross. Ake slides in to make a tackle, conceding a corner. Pulisic takes the corner aiming towards the far post. Ake and McKennie go up for the ball which comes off the American’s head falling into the 6-yard box. Ream rushes in, the ball hits his knee and, stretching, he gets a second touch on the ball before colliding with Knoppert. That touch sees the ball heading in, but Gakpo clears off the line. The clearance is collected by Pulisic about 10 yards outside the penalty area. His cross finds the head of McKennie whose tame header is easily collected by Knoppert. Just as in the first half, the Americans are making a strong start. They need to equalise quickly and that was a reasonable chance.
49 minutes. Gakpo running down the right channel is challenged by Musah. Gakpo passes out wide to Dumfries. Dumfries plays the ball back to Koopmeiners who returns to pass. The pair exchange passes again with Dumfries then playing a short ball inside to Gackpo. Gakpo pushes the ball forward for Dumfries. His low ball across the 6-yard line looks to be going past Zimmerman, with Depay arriving just behind him, at the near post. The defender stretches to get a foot to the ball but only directs it towards his own goal. Turner, low in front of the post can do no more than palm the ball away with his left hand. The ball rolls along the box where Dest intercepts it before Blind, running in behind him, can get to the ball. As the interception reaches the edge of the area it is cleared. A good, instinctive save by Turner (though he may not have known too much about it).
53 minutes. Musah, out to the left in his own half and surrounded by four Dutch players, manages to slip the ball inside to McKennie. Just short of halfway, McKennie sends the ball out to the left trying to find Reyna. The pass is a little over hit but Reyna chases the ball, controlling it just inside the left touchline. He turns inward running towards the penalty spot. A couple of yards into the area, faced by Dumfries, he ducks to the right sending a pass back to McKennie. At the edge of the box, McKennie controls and sends a left foot shot over the bar. Not a bad chance.
60 minutes. Towards the left touchline about 25 yards from goal, Koopmeiners is booked for a foul on Pulisic. Pulisic takes the kick which strikes Gakpo. The ball bounces sideways to Koopmeiners who hooks it clear. Timber heads onto Depay who heads inside to Gakpo. He makes a strong run down the centre into the American half before passing the ball outside to the right to find Bergwijn. Trying to turn away from Robinson, Pulisic runs back nicking the ball to Robinson who chips it outside back to Pulisic. Bergwijn wins the ball back, playing it to Koopmeiners who immediately pushes it forward to Gakpo. Gakpo runs in, cuts inside and shoots. The firm strike hits Ream rebounding back to Gakpo off Pulisic. On the the edge of the area Gakpo turns, laying the ball back to Depay. Depay’s well hit snapshot looks to be dipping in until Turner tips it over. Another good save from the keeper.
70 minutes. Gakpo wins the ball from Dest in the centre of the American half. Dest Chases Gakpo towards the edge of the area forcing Gakpo to turn back and pass to Koopmeiners. He takes the ball on a few yards before unleashing a powerful drive from just outside the D. Turner saves diving low to his right but can’t hold the shot. The ball pops out and up into the path of the onrushing Depay. Turner is up quickly to keep Depay’s diving header out with his left hand. The keeper is able to gather the ball on the edge of the box before Blind and Bergwijn can follow up.
74 minutes. A sustained American attack seems to have been repelled when Blind wins the ball on the left. He passes inside to de Jong and de Jong, in turn, passes the ball forward to Depay. Zimmerman harries Depay forcing him to run back towards his own goal. Inexplicably, Depay sends a casual pass back towards the penalty spot. With his hand on his head, Depay can only watch as the ball runs straight into the path of Wright (on for McKennie) sprinting clear of the defence. As Knoppert advances towards him, Wright knocks the ball past the keeper. His touch was too strong though, sending him too far wide. From a narrow angle Wright strikes the ball at goal. The shot was going in but Dumfries was able to run in and put the ball out just in front of the post. Pulisic takes the corner which Ake heads away. A good chance gifted to the Americans is not taken. They must start to convert their opportunities, and soon.
75 minutes. And they do! Ake’s clearance finds Gakpo about 35 yards out. He tries to back heel into the path of Bergwijn. Yedlin (on for Dest) gets a foot to the ball. His first touch finds Zimmerman running back out of the area. He touches the ball back first-time to Yedlin. He plays a diagonal ball first-time to his right finding Pulisic wide of the area and in space. Running into the area, Pulisic puts the ball low across the face of goal. The pass looks as if it is little behind Wright making a near post run. Wright manages to flick the ball which loops up over Knoppert and Dumfries going in just inside the far post. An unbelievable goal. Wright’s touch almost looked like it might have been an inadvertent one. An outrageous but of skill or a fluke. Who knows? Who cares? The Americans certainly don’t. They have scored and, suddenly, they are back in the game.
77 minutes. A long clearance down the USA’s left headed into the centre circle. Pulisic picks the ball up plays a diagonal ball into Wright’s path. With Ake and van Dijk too far away on his left, Wright, outrunning Blind, looks as if he might run on and possibly score. Smart goalkeeping by Knoppert sees him come outside his area to clear the ball away just before Wright gets to it. The ball goes wide out to the right where it’s cleared long. Ream picks the ball up and rolls it forward to Adams. His lofted pass towards Aaronson (on for Weah) is intercepted by Koopmeiners. The ball loops up forwards. Bergwijn and Adams compete for the ball. Bergwijn wins the header which finds Gackpo wider out on the right. Gackpo collects the ball beating Adams before pushing it inside to Depay. He plays the ball forward through to Bergwijn. Turner rushes out of his goal and, in beating him to the ball, Bergwijn pokes the ball well wide. The game is becoming more and more open.
80 minutes. De Jong, midway inside the American half and 10 yards or so in from the left touchline, plays the ball outside to Blind. He passes infield to Depay a little outside the area. He runs past Robinson crossing the 18-yard line. Faced by Yedlin and with Adams closing in, Depay turns back around Adams pushing the ball back to de Jong. He sends the ball straight back out to Blind. Dumfries, arm raised, is totally free on the far side of the area. Dumfries runs the 6-yard box to meet the ball, Blind’s cross picks Dumfries out perfectly. Dumfries side-footed volley, on his weaker foot, finds the left hand corner of the net. Another very good goal with Dumfries showing the composure of a top striker. The goal will surely win the game for the Netherlands.
The USA fared better in the second half having more of the game and creating more chances than they did in the first. Ultimately, they could not overcome the technically superior and more experienced Netherlands side. In fact, the USA had more possession, more shots and more shots on target than the Dutch. They are a young squad and will improve. The Americans will return home and start to build up for 2026 (to be held in the US, Canada and Mexico). The Netherlands moves on to face Argentina in the quarter-finals.
Posted by the CSG’s World Cup Willie