USMNT eliminated by the Netherlands after a bittersweet loss in the knockout stage


Photo courtesy of Instagram @USMNT

Gio Reyna comforts Christian Pulisic after the loss to Netherlands and the elimination from the World Cup on Dec. 3

After the success of the United States advancing out of the group stage, their 2022 Qatar World Cup run came to a close after a tough loss to the Netherlands on Saturday morning. The youth of this USMNT squad was no match for the quality that the Dutch brought as the U.S. were punished on several occasions for inexperienced mistakes. That being said, the performance of the USMNT throughout this world cup has proved that the future is bright for this squad.

Heading into this game, the United States had only conceded one goal throughout their first three games and wanted to continue this streak going forward. Once again, they went into the game as underdogs and they relied on their grit and relentlessness in an attempt to pull out a win. However, they had not yet faced a team with the caliber of skill that the Netherlands maintains. With the likes of Frenkie de Jong, Virgil Van Dijk and Memphis Depay, the Dutch were the heavied favorites leading into the match. Not only this, but the tactics of the Dutch were no match for the United States, consistently shutting down the midfield play of the USMNT, the team’s strongest area throughout this tournament. 

The game began with the United States coming out hot, putting the Netherlands on their back foot to start. The pressure applied caused the Dutch to cave within the first two minutes of the game as notorious USMNT winger, Christian Pulisic, found himself unmarked on the back post. Pulisic’s first touch set him up for a great goal scoring opportunity but Dutch goalkeeper, Andries Noppert, came up with a huge save, keeping the game at 0-0. 

The United States attack maintained pressure throughout the first ten minutes of the match and looked dangerous in several situations against a disciplined Netherlands side. While the Americans were hyper-focused on scoring, they were countered by the Dutch in lightning quick succession and the U.S. defense was easily broken down by the one-touch passing between the Netherlands’ midfielders. The disorganized back line of the United States allowed Dutch fullback Denzel Dumfries to find himself with time and space in a wide area, which he took advantage of as he picked out Dutch striker Memphis Depay, who finished the ball into the bottom left corner and made the score 1-0 Netherlands.

The two nations battled back and forth until Dumfries tallied his second assist of the day, finding Daley Blind across the box where he netted Netherlands second goal of the match, giving the Dutch a 2-0 lead heading into the half. 

The Americans came out of halftime firing, having almost scored their first of the match off a Pulisic corner that found the head of midfielder, Weston McKennie. McKennie’s header was unsuccessful, however, and it was redirected towards defenseman, Tim Ream, who from very close range shot the ball into the chest of Noppert. The USMNT continued their attack into the 76th minute where Pulisic found forward Haji Right, who chipped the ball over the head of Noppert and into the back of the net, giving USA a fighting chance and only a one goal deficit. 

Unfortunately for the United States, the Netherlands took no time to respond, as only four minutes later Blind had an excellent cross to find Dumfries who buried a beautiful volley into the bottom left corner. The two-goal lead was enough for Netherlands to secure their spot in the next round of the knockout stage and meant that the tournament run for the U.S. has officially come to end.

Although the United States came into this tournament with criticism over the inexperience of their young squad, they proved why soccer fans all over the United States should be delighted with the performances they put on throughout their time in the world cup. While their inexperience ultimately led to their demise, there were also flashes of brilliance from this team and with a little more experience they could eventually be contenders. 

Luckily, the 2026 World Cup will be played on home turf, so for now, they can keep their heads held high and focus on the future of their program.