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Winners & Losers

USMNT put in its place: Winners, losers & ratings as superior Dutch teach Americans World Cup last-16 lesson

20:34 EAT 03/12/2022
Tyler Adams USMNT Netherlands 2022 World Cup HIC 16:9
The U.S. men's national team is out of the World Cup, undone by its own mistakes as the Netherlands showed a higher level in a 3-1 defeat.

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.

  • Gregg Berhalter Louis van Gaal USMNT Netherlands World Cup

    The Winners

    Matt Turner:

    Say what you want about Berhalter's squad selections, but he sure got his goalkeeper right.

    Turner was on his game once again, despite seeing three shots fly past him for his first goals conceded from open play at this tournament. There's little a goalkeeper can do in those situations, so we'll let them go.

    Throughout the rest of the game, though, Turner was spectacular. His back-to-back saves just prior to the USMNT's goal helped keep hopes alive.

    Overall, he made several fantastic stops to keep the U.S. in it, even as the Dutch pushed for a killing blow that eventually came. Turner was repeatedly let down. It's not his fault things ended this way.

    Denzel Dumfries:

    If you had the Inter defender as the main source of attacking inspiration, let me know your lottery ticket numbers.

    Dumfries assisted the first two goals, putting both balls in on a platter for his teammates. The two helpers were nearly identical: a run down the right side, a low cut back towards the penalty spot and, ultimately, a simple finish past Matt Turner.

    The cherry on top? A back-post finish for the Netherlands' third. Dumfries was unmarked, the chance was simple, the game was over.

    It was all too easy for the Netherlands and, in truth, too easy for Dumfries, whose eyes must have been wide every time he got near the box. The U.S. failed to track back three times, and Dumfries made the Stars and Stripes pay three times.

    Louis van Gaal:

    A tactical masterclass. What else would you expect?

    The Dutch manager has seen it all, and he surely wasn't overwhelmed by anything the USMNT brought to the table. Instead, he completely out-thought the opposition.

    Van Gaal let USMNT have the ball, to be the protagonist, something that it hasn't been fully comfortable doing. He instructed Memphis Depay and Cody Gakpo to take away the balls to the full backs, preventing the U.S. from building out wide.

    With the USMNT's starting striker Jesus Ferreira far from an aerial threat, Tim Ream and Walker Zimmerman were forced to hit line-breaking passes that could spring Dutch traps or play safe.

    More often than not, they played safe, which the Dutch were more than OK with. They were rarely challenged and, once again, seemingly didn't have to get out of second gear.

    We may not have seen the best of the Dutch team yet, the one that's on the front-foot and truly flexing their talent. But who cares? Not Van Gaal, who won this game with his mind just as much as his players won it on the field.

  • Jesus Ferreira USMNT Netherlands 2022

    The Losers

    Jesus Ferreira:

    This was finally his chance. And it was over in 45 minutes.

    Jesus Ferreira became the third USMNT striker to start in this tournament, and he became the third to be held scoreless. If you're wondering what held the USMNT back, it's that right there.

    Ferreira was good for a bit of hold-up play, but little else. He checked back into midfield to get the ball, but could do nothing with it. With the Dutch totally content to concede possession, his pressing was somewhat useless and he never created havoc on the counter.

    Ferreira was yanked at half-time as the U.S. brought in Gio Reyna for some kind of spark. They needed it because, once again, there was very little coming from up top.

    Christian Pulisic:

    You hate to say what if but, really, what if?

    What if Pulisic was 100 percent and didn't suffer that pelvic contusion against Iran? And, more importantly, what if he buried that early chance that could have seen the U.S. seize control early?

    It would have changed the game, no doubt. Pulisic was there, one-on-one with goalkeeper Andries Noppert and a whole net to shoot at. He was not offside and he had time, but he didn't make the most of it.

    What could have been a tournament-changing goal instead ended up being a tame shot kicked away to Noppert's left.

    USMNT defending:

    What in the world was that?

    The U.S. was nearly flawless on the defensive end in the three group stage games. Heading into the knockout round, it was actually their calling card.

    Even with the attack sputtering, the U.S. hadn't conceded from open play. No matter what, it would be difficult to break down. Or so we thought.

    All three Dutch goals were down to the USMNT's inability, or unwillingness, to track back. Physical and mental fatigue seemingly caught up with the playerrs and, in the end, that led to three all-too-easy goals.

    It all just felt so preventable. The Dutch were good, of course, but it was a series of cataclysmic sequences from the U.S. that sealed the end of its World Cup dream.

    Gregg Berhalter:

    Berhalter couldn't prevent the goals himself. He wasn't the one that failed to track back. He also wasn't the one that squandered chances on the other end.

    But the heat will be turned up after this one. Not just because the U.S. lost but because of how they lost.

    Berhalter's roster and lineup decisions have drawn criticism for weeks, and this game will not have helped. The Reyna saga will go down as perhaps the defining story of this team and, given how the U.S. attack sprung to life during the Dortmund star's 45-minute appearance, it won't go away any time soon.

    It won't be the only question asked of Berhalter. Did he rely too heavily on his midfield's tired legs? Did he get his striker selections right? Should Reyna and Brenden Aaronson have played bigger roles?

    That's the job for a national team coach: answering to those sorts of questions. A bigger one is coming, though.

    Will Berhalter get another chance at the World Cup with this team?

  • Sergino Dest USMNT Netherlands World Cup 2022

    USMNT Ratings: Defense

    Matt Turner (7/10):

    Several great saves, and hard to blame him for the goals.

    Antonee Robinson (5/10):

    Lost Dumfries on the third goal and had a few sloppy touches. Just wasn't quite right.

    Tim Ream (7/10):

    Pretty solid again from the Fulham star. Didn't put a foot wrong all tournament.

    Walker Zimmerman (5/10):

    A tough first half for Zimmerman, who didn't quite have the pace or passing range the U.S. needed for this game.

    Sergino Dest (6/10):

    Dangerous, but not good enough. The emotion of facing the Netherlands seemingly got to him.

  • Weston McKennie USMNT Netherlands World Cup 2022

    Midfield

    Tyler Adams (5/10):

    His first mistake of the tournament came on that Depay goal. Have to feel for him.

    Weston McKennie (5/10):

    Just looked a step slow. USMNT needed the McKennie we saw against England and just didn't get him

    Yunus Musah (5/10):

    Looked so, so tired. Lacked the explosiveness that makes him so special.

  • Christian Pulisic frustrated USMNT Netherlands World Cup 2022

    Attack

    Christian Pulisic (7/10):

    Got the assist, but he'll be thinking about the chance missed early on.

    Jesus Ferreira (5/10):

    Had to check back to the midfield to get anywhere near the ball. Totally ineffective before being replaced by Reyna.

    Timothy Weah (6/10):

    Created one good chance and threatened the back-line as usual, but it never quite came off.

  • Gio Reyna USMNT Netherlands World Cup 2022

    Subs & Manager

    Gio Reyna (6/10):

    Initially changed the game upon coming in with a few good passes but it wasn't quite enough.

    Haji Wright (6/10):

    Got the goal, whether intentional or inadvertent. Also missed several other chances after rounding the goalkeeper.

    Brenden Aaronson (6/10):

    Once again, energy, but little else.

    DeAndre Yedlin (7/10)

    Helped set up the goal. Definitely helped after coming on.

    Jordan Morris (N/A)

    Only came on for a few minutes with the game out of reach.

    Gregg Berhalter (5/10):

    The decision to start Ferreira was big, and he may regret it. Never figured out the attack.