The US had never trailed in this tournament, drawing with Wales and England and defeating Iran in group play. But none of that mattered in the knockout stage, where teams had to win or go home.
Christian Pulisic had a fantastic chance to put the United States ahead early against the Netherlands. He had a one-on-one with the giant Dutch goalie in the third minute but couldn’t beat the 6-foot-8 Andries Noppert.
The Netherlands was the first to score. Memphis Depay hammered a volley beyond US keeper Matt Turner’s outstretched arms in the 10th minute. The tone of the game shifted at that point. To choke up the US offensive, the Netherlands slowed the tempo and dropped players into the backfield.
The United States’ disadvantage grew even worse when the Netherlands scored again in stoppage time, just before the end of the first half. A Dutch pass across the goal box found the right foot of Daley Blind, who kicked it past Turner to double the Dutch lead to 2-0 at halftime.
Definitely a different vibe than the group stage matchups in the United States. Each time, the spectators erupted into a frenzy of unrivaled intensity. Especially during the match against Iran, where the crowd of 42,000 sounded twice as large. However, the smaller audience at Khalifa International Stadium on Saturday generated significantly less fan voltage.
The United States began the second half with energy, intensity, and multiple scoring chances. And, in the 76th minute, the United States scored. Pulisic delivered a cross in front of the Dutch goal, which ricocheted off Haji Wright and into the net.
The US’s momentum did not last long. Denzel Dumfries was left wide open in front of the US goal in the 81st minute and blasted the ball past Turner to make it 3-1.
The Americans were unable to capitalize because Dutch midfielders and defenders hampered the American offense, which was compounded by the Americans’ lost opportunities. “This is a difficult one to handle,” USA head coach Gregg Berhalter remarked after the game on Fox. “We fell short today, but not for a want of trying or effort.”
The Netherlands entered this encounter against the United States with the World Cup’s longest unbeaten streak. The Dutch have not lost in their previous ten games (seven wins and three draws).
Who’s in, who’s out, and what storylines to follow in the World Cup’s round of 16?
WORLD CUP 2022
Predictions for the World Cup’s Round of 16: Who’s in, who’s out, and what storylines to keep an eye on
This was the seventh time the United States have advanced to the World Cup’s round of 16. They’d only won once before, in 2002, when they defeated Mexico to reach to the quarterfinals (the U.S. made it to the semifinals of the inaugural World Cup in 1930 when only 13 teams competed).
In the quarterfinals on Friday, the Netherlands will face the winner of the late Saturday encounter between Argentina and Australia.