The USMNT's 2022 World Cup run ended under the bright lights of Khalifa International Stadium on Saturday.
After spending the last two weeks showing how far it had come in developing an international identity, the team was shown by a true superpower what elite, ruthless soccer looks like.
It's clear that while the USMNT has grown, there is yet more growing up left to do before 2026.
The tears flowed as the full-time whistle blew, with frustration at individual mistakes and missed opportunities in front of goal in the 3-1 defeat. A feeling that the Netherlands was better, but the USMNT also hurt itself.
"If you give them three, four chances, they're going to put them away," said a disappointed Tyler Adams to FOX afterwards.
This was a lesson in what it takes to be among the best in the world. Top teams are clinical, cruel, vicious. And, throughout this tournament, the U.S. showed time and time again that it wasn't quite there. Finally, the players paid for it.
The Netherlands, meanwhile, cemented its status as World Cup contenders. The Oranje warped the USMNT's defense, ruining a group stage's worth of hard work in 90 minutes. The U.S. made seismic error after seismic error, effectively engineering its own undoing as a quick two-goal deficit proved too much to overturn.
It'll be a bitter pill to swallow. The USMNT has gotten better, that's for sure. The group stage was great evidence of that.
But American soccer is still nowhere near the very best.