USA Netherlands Takeaways: Mistakes, Fine Margins, and More

Just like that, it’s all over. The United States Men’s National Team is out of the World Cup. Four days after a climactic win against Iran to finish second in Group B, they were outclassed by the Netherlands 3-1. What went wrong for the USA, why, and what does it mean? Let’s take a look with some USA Netherlands takeaways.

USA Netherlands Takeaways: Mistakes, Fine Margins, and More

The Yanks came out flying in the opening minutes. Christian Pulisic had a fortuitous 1-v-1 with the keeper two minutes in but could not finish. Memphis Depay finished off a great passing sequence ten minutes in. Sergiño Dest was a catalyst later in the half, but the US struggled to break down the Dutch defense. Daley Blind scored on a similar play to Depay at the end of the half.

Gio Reyna subbed on and the Americans opened things up in the second half. Tim Ream nearly scored on a corner. Matt Turner stood on his head multiple times as his defense gotten taken apart in transition. Walker Zimmerman tried a bicycle kick off a corner. Haji Wright did poor on a back pass that saw him get in on goal alone. Wright did score minutes later on a fortuitous backheel that went up in the air. Denzel Dumfries put the game away with 10 minutes left in regular time, unmarked on a cross to the back post.

Louis van Gaal surprises and out-coaches Gregg Berhalter

The Netherlands came out in a defensive posture. The put numbers behind the ball and invited the US to come at them and break them down. They pressed well in spurts to create turnovers and get out in transition. They did this better than any of USA’s group stage opponents. Perhaps Berhalter was surprised that they were going to have so much of the ball.

Either way, they again showed their limitations in breaking down a mid block. That has been a Greek Tragedy for Berhalter despite his mantra of wanting to “use the ball to disorganize the opponent.” They’ve found success via chances by volume or by creating on the wings. This is the first game in Qatar where the US were dominated on the flanks. Dest had a good first half, but he and Antonee Robinson were tired by the 70th. The Netherlands played to two key weaknesses of the USMNT perfectly. The Yanks could not do anything about it.

Denzel Dumfries delights in transition

A fullback recorded a goal and two assists in a World Cup Round of 16. Dumfries was fantastic on both sides of the pitch. On the right, Blind had a goal himself and was good in possession. Both had great touches on the ball on the goals they were involved in. Defensively, they contained their opposing fullbacks. Dumfries had quality in his two assists in ways the wide players for the US, outside of Pulisic, did not. Dumfries putting the game away with Robinson not marking him in the 81st was decisive.

Injuries and fatigue finally derail USMNT intensity

I have to wonder how injured Pulisic was and if that affected him in the second half. McKennie has not played 90 minutes in any of these games. How limited was he? The MMA midfield expended so much energy in the previous two games. Had they saw out a win against Wales, maybe they’re able to manage this game better.

Tyler Adams had his worst performance of the tournament, with Depay running by him on the opening goal. Lack of depth at midfield and fullback finally took their tole. Josh Sargent was missed. Jesus Ferreira started and was invisible in the first half, getting subbed out at the break. For all the questions around Gio Reyna’s lack of playing time, he was poor in the 45 minutes he got. He did not look sharp or fit, validating Berhalter in not playing him.

Did it all come down to finishing?

The Dutch won the Expected Goals battle 1.67 to 1.49. They had six really good chances and scored on three of them. On the others, Turner had to make a big save. The US had three good chances, scoring on none of them. Wright messed up on his, shooting from a poor angle. The other two (Pulisic in the second minute and Ream on a corner) accounted for half of their xG. The rest of their shots were hopeful, low probability, and from distance.

As much as the Dutch were the protagonists without the ball, if Tyler Adams makes one run, Robinson marks properly, and one of these guys finishes a change, the US could have won this game. The Netherlands are better on paper but were beatable. Simple mistakes cost them greatly at this level. The littles things were magnified in the result. I still think there was no shame in losing this game.

Last Word: The foundation has been built for 2026

The Baby Eagles showed fight and quality in many ways during these four games. They were challenged in qualifying and they survived. They proved they can get out of the group and play good football. The second youngest team at this World Cup can only get better and wiser. These experiences and lessons will do them good. The potential is high. Resolve the center back and striker position. Develop some bench options. Whether it’s Berhalter or a new coach, U.S. Soccer should be very excited about 2026.

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