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USA out of FIFA World Cup 2022: USMNT eliminated by Netherlands as Haji Wright scores lone goal in defeat

The United States men's national team were eliminated by the Netherlands in the round of 16 of the 2022 FIFA World Cup on Saturday. First-half goals by Memphis Depay and Daley Blind did Gregg Berhalter's squad in as the Americans leave Qatar with a 3-1 defeat to the Dutch following a respectable group-stage campaign. The Netherlands will face the winner of Argentina and Australia in the quarterfinals on Friday.

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This was a game that showed how much the USMNT still need to grow as they were exposed to Dutch counters. This was a U.S. team that did not concede a goal on open play during the group stage heading into Saturday. Denzel Dumfries dominated the wing with two assists and a goal to his name. 

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The Americans were without Josh Sargent, who did not dress due to an ankle injury, and they missed his presence with the lack movement and space in attack. From being too quick in their passing plays to not tracking back on Dutch counters, the United States were lulled into playing the game that Netherlands manager Louis van Gaal prepared for.

On the Dutch opening goal, Coady Gakpo made space for Depay to blow past the United States midfield to finish the chance created by Dumfries. Again before the half, a fullback Sergino Dest was caught flat-footed for Blind to finish in a fullback to fullback goal that drove home the Dutch style of play. Changes came at halftime with Gio Reyna entering for Jesus Ferreira but that wasn't enough to get back into the game. Haji Wright pulled one back from a Netherlands collapse before Dumfries capped his excellent game with an 81st minute goal to put things out of sight.

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The United States, meanwhile, will have to wait until 2026 when they host the next World Cup alongside Canada and Mexico. Here are three takeaways from the match: 

1. Learning experience

The United States wasted their chances to get into the match while the Dutch made them pay with the small number of chances. Again, Berhalter got his tactics to begin the game right. Pulisic and Weah were flying out of the gate, just as it was probably scripted, but they couldn't find the final ball into the box. From taking ill-advised shots to dribbling too much, the United States did just what the Netherlands wanted them to. 

Chances were there when they pressured the Dutch, but the United States could only keep that press up for 15 minutes of each half. Then, when they were caught out, the Netherlands were flying down the pitch unmarked, showing the tightrope that Dest and Robinson walk on by cheating up too much. The defense is dependent on fullback play, and the Dutch fullbacks came up big as they were able to get in behind consistently.

The American fullbacks will need to do better picking their spots to go forward in matches like this, but you don't know where your weaknesses are until they're exposed on the big stage. 

2. End of an era

We are four years and a day into Gregg Berhalter's tenure in charge of the USMNT. Is it time to move on and appoint a new manager for an all important cycle that involves the Americans hosting the World Cup and not necessarily needing to qualify through Concacaf? The track record for coaches that last more than one cycle is not exactly great.

Berhalter has done an important job with getting the team back on the global stage, but it's fair to question if he has taken the team as far as he can.

"When you think about this group, how they've come together in this last three-and-a-half years, it's really special to see," Berhalter told Fox reporter Jenny Taft after the game. "You don't often get a bond like that between the teammates and the staff and everyone. I'm really proud of this group, but bitterly disappointed in the result tonight."

The bonds forged between the team are important as most of them have played together at the youth levels. Bethalter's substitutions, however, didn't allow the team to function at its best. Bringing Reyna on after the half but playing him as a false nine didn't cause much danger as he had to move wide to influence the game.

Despite scoring what seemed like a fluky goal, Wright also struggled during the World Cup. His performances again left us wondering what could have been with Jordan Pefok and/or Ricardo Pepi in the squad. When your striker scores one goal in four games, it's fair to question what happened there. Berhalter absolutely nailed the calls on Turner at keeper and Ream at center back, which were critical to their success, but questions remain about how this can become a well-rounded squad for 2026.

Given the talent at the U-20 level, some players just need more experience under their belts. Having a manager who has a Plan B in the back pocket to shift games after halftime may have squeezed a little more out of this match.

3. Don't underestimate the Dutch

Assuming the Dutch play Argentina in the next round, it's another chance for van Gaal to use his blueprint against a team that likes to keep possession. With Memphis finding his footing at the right time, it gives the Dutch more to push the pace. Noppert has been strong in goal as well and this was the best performance from Dumfries during the World Cup. Keep that going and they can cause an upset in the next round. Gakpo didn't even need to score against the United States but his movement made space for everyone else on the team.

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Live reaction!

Make sure you tune into In Soccer We Trust as our former USMNT players Jimmy Conrad, Heath Pearce and Charlie Davies react and dissect everything from the round of 16 as the Netherlands eliminate the United States.

December 3, 2022, 5:05 PM
Dec. 03, 2022, 12:05 pm EST
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Weston McKennie on changing the way people view American soccer

The Juventus midfielder reacted to the 3-1 loss, with a look on the positive side for the state of the sport in the United States. Here's what he told Jenny Taft after the game:

"I think we had a mission from the beginning of this four-year journey. It was to change the way the world sees American soccer, and I think with this tournament, the performances that we put in, I think we accomplished that.

"We know this game could have gone either way. We know that we could have won this game. We believed it. Obviously, soccer is a very unpredictable sport - there's highs, there's lows - but I think we're going to just seize this as a part of the story and just have another four years to get prepared.

"We didn't want the journey to end, but we have to keep our heads up because I think this group exceeded expectations that people had for us and I think we'll continue to do that."

December 3, 2022, 6:08 PM
Dec. 03, 2022, 1:08 pm EST
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Matt Turner reacts to 3-1 defeat ...

The Arsenal backup solidified the starting goalkeeper job and was pretty reliable throughout the tournament. Here's what he told Jenny Taft after the game:

"Essentially, there's not too much to say. It was a performance that we should be proud of. Sometimes the game can be a bit unfair. This wasn't said, but from my perspective, it just came down to what happened in both boxes. They had some ideas in the final third and they were able to execute them. And when we got into the final third, their defenders made plays. And that was the biggest difference. Unfortunately for us, we fought hard to get back into the game and then conceded another goal late and that kind of put the steam out.

"I think it wasn't our best performance. It wasn't the performances that we've been accustomed to, whether it be this tournament or prior. We were allowing balls into the box and just not tracking runners. And when you let good teams with world-class players run freely onto a ball, it can make things pretty difficult for us. We didn't block shots … it was just a tough night overall, defensively, one that we probably lose some sleep over."

December 3, 2022, 5:57 PM
Dec. 03, 2022, 12:57 pm EST
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Tyler Adams speaks ...

Here's what the U.S. captain told Jenny Taft after the game.

"A game like that, it comes down to the margins, obviously, and when you play a team with some much quality and you give them three, four chances, they're going to put three or four away. I'm super proud of the boys' performance today. We can show that we can hang with some of the best teams in the world, some of the best players in the world, and that's a lot of progress for U.S. soccer. We're moving in the right direction, for sure, but we need to keep pushing cause we're not there yet, but we're close.

"The more time together, the more growth we should have. But that being said, we still need to develop individually into more mature players for moments like this where we can come out on top. It comes down to the moments, and today you could see a little bit more experienced team got the better of us, but our youth, our potential that we have, we need to maximize that moving forward in the time we have between now and obviously 2026.

"He [Berhalter] just patted me on my back and told me to keep my head high. The effort that we put into this game today, we need to walk off the pitch with our heads held high.

"The support has been amazing. The amount of people that have reached out to me leading up to this event, to these games, it would not have been possible without the support of our American fans. The American fans that traveled all this way, the American fans back home, I hope we gave them something to be excited about moving forward."

December 3, 2022, 5:44 PM
Dec. 03, 2022, 12:44 pm EST
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Gregg Berhalter speaks after the game ...

There's a lot to digest from this elimination. Here's what U.S. manager Gregg Berhalter told Jenny Taft on air after the game:

"This is a difficult one to handle. It's such a good group of guys, such a close group of guys, and we came up short today, but not for the lack of trying or the lack of effort. They poured everything they had into this game and unfortunately we lost it.

"I'm really proud. When you think about this group and how they have come together over the last three-and-a-half years, it's really special to see. You don't often get a bond like that between teammates and the staff and everyone. I'm really proud of this group but bitterly disappointed at the result tonight.

"I think we made some progress. When people look at our team, they see a clear identity, they see guys that go out and fight for each other, they see talent on the field. We made progress but on this particular night we came up short."

December 3, 2022, 5:31 PM
Dec. 03, 2022, 12:31 pm EST
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That's the final

The USMNT will bow out of the World Cup after losing to the Netherlands. The team didn't make many defensive mistakes but each don't that they did make was punished by Dumfries and the Dutch. The experience will be a valuable one for the second youngest team at the World Cup but the national team will grow from this.

December 3, 2022, 5:03 PM
Dec. 03, 2022, 12:03 pm EST
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A look back at the dagger from the Netherlands

December 3, 2022, 4:51 PM
Dec. 03, 2022, 11:51 am EST
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Six minutes of stoppage

At this point, the United States are looking for a consolation goal as the Netherlands have eight men behind the ball to close this out.

December 3, 2022, 4:50 PM
Dec. 03, 2022, 11:50 am EST
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Well that moment of belief lasted a while

Following a USMNT set piece, Dumfries floats in unmarked by Robinson to lash the ball into a net. He has been everywhere

December 3, 2022, 4:39 PM
Dec. 03, 2022, 11:39 am EST
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Noppert makes a big save

This game is officially on skates as Wright has his third good chance of the match but the Dutch keeper flies out to clean up the danger. WIth 11 minutes plus stoppage left, this could go to extra time.

December 3, 2022, 4:37 PM
Dec. 03, 2022, 11:37 am EST
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Wright gets another chance and it ends up in a goal!

That was something else as Pulisic's cross finds Wright before his shot is turned in by Dumfries. It was a weird goal but they all count the same.

December 3, 2022, 4:35 PM
Dec. 03, 2022, 11:35 am EST
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Haji Wright has a chance

But trying to round the keeper he loses possession. Good teams take advantage of chances like that and Wright just couldn't.

December 3, 2022, 4:32 PM
Dec. 03, 2022, 11:32 am EST
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Two subs will enter

It's Wright and Aaronson for Weah and McKennie. It's unfortunate that McKennie has to come out of the match but he hasn't been fit enough to make it 90 minutes during the World Cup so far.

December 3, 2022, 4:25 PM
Dec. 03, 2022, 11:25 am EST
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We're playing pinball now

Subs are being readied as Haji Wright and Brenden Aaronson are coming in. Antonee Robinson is also down after a collision with Dumfries and will need medical treatment as well. He's one player without an actual backup within the squad.

December 3, 2022, 4:22 PM
Dec. 03, 2022, 11:22 am EST
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Another set piece opportunity

it's a disappointing free kick that doesn't amount to much and the Netherlands motor the other way as Depay forces Turner into a good save. Just clinical on their counter attacks.

December 3, 2022, 4:19 PM
Dec. 03, 2022, 11:19 am EST
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Gio Reyna is playing through the middle

Considering what the strike have been asked to do dropping deep, it's an area that he can thrive in and he created a good chance from Weston McKennie. Musah neutralized the Dutch midfield before the USMNT created the shot.  Fluid movement and good decisions are the way to win the match.

December 3, 2022, 4:11 PM
Dec. 03, 2022, 11:11 am EST
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Weah goes down in the box

But it's a good tackle from Ake to stop the chance. Ream Was so so close from scoring from the corner that followed as the USMNT needs an early goal to get back into things.

December 3, 2022, 4:07 PM
Dec. 03, 2022, 11:07 am EST
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Halftime subs

Gio Reyna is finally getting his moment for the USMNT as he comes on fore Jesus Ferrieira. On the Dutch side they make two changes with Bergwijn and Koopmeiners on for de Roon and Klaasen

December 3, 2022, 4:05 PM
Dec. 03, 2022, 11:05 am EST
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Right before the half, Blind strikes

It's a brutal goal to concede as Dest is beaten on the wing. The second assist of the match for Dumfries as well.

December 3, 2022, 3:48 PM
Dec. 03, 2022, 10:48 am EST
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Check off Ream beating Gakpo to a 1 v 1 

A great defensive transition from the USMNT to keep things where they are. Ream held up Gapo enough time for Robinson to double back and keep things where they are.

December 3, 2022, 3:46 PM
Dec. 03, 2022, 10:46 am EST
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Again, can't get a shot from good positions

The pass was there for Pulisic but he overhits it and Robinson can't draw a corner. There was good work from Weah to drive the ball forward but against it amounts to nothing. Weah does test Noppert from long range but the keeper is there.

December 3, 2022, 3:43 PM
Dec. 03, 2022, 10:43 am EST
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The Netherlands are happy to cede possession

Despite the early goal from Memphis, the United Sates have held 56% of the possession but only have one shot to show from it. Once things get to just outside of the box, it feels like USMNT attack just deflate.

December 3, 2022, 3:37 PM
Dec. 03, 2022, 10:37 am EST
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Better from the USMNT 

They've been able to put together some passing combinations now and also stopped Memphis on the defensive end. It has been a nervy match but the U.S. can find their footing. The team is already not able to keep their intensity from the start of the match. Paying for sloppy touches. 

December 3, 2022, 3:31 PM
Dec. 03, 2022, 10:31 am EST
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it's a good time to slow things down

The United States are creating chances but the team has been too quick to try and drive at goal. The United States can't keep their high energy attack for much longer and the Dutch have been patient knowing that the United States will gift them chances.

December 3, 2022, 3:24 PM
Dec. 03, 2022, 10:24 am EST
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Pulisic is electric

Again with a good cross in the box, the United States have created chances but the Dutch have been ready. They went on the counter right after things but Tim Ream recovered to clear the danger. If the USMNT can stick to their plan, there is a solid chance to score a goal.

December 3, 2022, 3:16 PM
Dec. 03, 2022, 10:16 am EST
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Can't leave spaces that large

it's the first time that the United State have trailed during this World Cup

December 3, 2022, 3:12 PM
Dec. 03, 2022, 10:12 am EST
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Lose them for a second and the Netherlands make you pay

Memphis Depay opens the scoring in the 10th minute as Dumfries played a great ball into the box. Gakpo created space and the Netherlands took advantage.

December 3, 2022, 3:11 PM
Dec. 03, 2022, 10:11 am EST
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Oh so so close

Noppert came up with a big big save on Pulisic. The United States are looking good in possession to start the match which is quite promising.

December 3, 2022, 3:04 PM
Dec. 03, 2022, 10:04 am EST
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The match is underway

The US are already pressing high when the Netherlands keeper is in possession.

December 3, 2022, 3:02 PM
Dec. 03, 2022, 10:02 am EST
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Let's get it

December 3, 2022, 2:54 PM
Dec. 03, 2022, 9:54 am EST
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