World Cup 2022: USMNT out despite valiant effort against the Netherlands
Al Rayyan, Qatar - The USMNT's World Cup adventure is over after a clinical Netherlands side punished mistakes at the back to win 3-1 in their last 16 clash on Saturday.
Doing more with less was the theme of a match that saw the US huffing and puffing without much to show for it, while the Dutch took their chances with brutal efficiency.
Inter Milan right back Denzel Dumfries starred with two assists and the 81st minute goal that ultimately snuffed out any hopes of an American comeback.
It was the third and most devastating sucker delivered by a team that knew exactly when to put its foot on the gas. The Netherlands scored with virtually their first attack of the game, Memphis Depay finishing off a mesmerizing 20-pass move in the 10th minute.
That derailed the USMNT's great start, which really should have been crowned by a Christian Pulisic goal, but Oranje goalkeeper Andries Noppert blocked with his leg.
Then, just ahead of the break, when the US looked closing to finding an equalizer, Daley Blind netted a carbon copy of the first goal, with Sergiño Dest caught sleeping at the back post.
It still wasn't enough to extinguish the American fire, though. Tim Ream's header was cleared off the line early in the second half and the US just kept knocking.
Finally, it had its reward, when Haji Wright – whether by design or more likely sheer luck – sent a Pulisic cross looping beyond Noppert and into the far corner
But then came the Dutch reaction again, and more poor defending from a fullback. Antonee Robinson gave Dumfries the freedom of the left wing to knock home a perfect cross from Blind and put out the last spark of resistance.
Berhalter proud of effort
Greg Berhalter had every reason to hold his head up high at full time.
"It's such a good group of guys, but we came up just a bit short today, but not for the lack of trying," he said. "I'm really proud of this group, but bitterly disappointed."
Ultimately, this was a step too far for a very young team that was missing a cutting edge all throughout the tournament.
Meanwhile, in the quarter-finals on Friday, the Netherlands will meet the winner of the clash between Argentina and Australia.
Cover photo: REUTERS