By Alex Al-Kazzaz
The United States knew they were going up against a very talented and strong Dutch team. No doubt, the USA's round of 16 encounter with the Netherlands was going to be no walk in the park. Quite the contrary since most critics felt the Netherlands would have no problem against the USA. The USA was determined to prove the critics wrong and attempt to pull off what could have possibly have been the national team's biggest upset victory since perhaps their win over England in 1950.
After their thrilling 1-0 triumph victory over Iran to qualify for the knockouts, the USA seemed motivated and eager for a challenge. While they managed to pull through the group stage without a loss and without even conceding, the team looked respectably good despite being very young and inexperienced in World Cup competition. Unfortunately, they could not overcome the odds and as a result of a disappointing 3-1 loss to the Netherlands, the USA is out of the tournament.
The USA's loss is a direct result of a terrible defensive performance and lack of strength in the position of striker. As far as striker goes for the USA, there's Christian Pulisic, Josh Sargent, Jesus Ferreira, Tim Weah, and Haji Wright. And without a doubt, they're all talented and it's very likely that the lack of strength comes from their lack of experience at the World Cup stage. The USA is one of the three hosts for the World Cup in 2026. Therefore, by then, the team will hope to officially have their reliable goal-scoring machine. The USA had eight shots-on-goal and were only able to convert once, so it's clear that they're lacking an elite scorer. At least three big scoring chances were missed and that really hurts the USA.
It's no surprise that the USA defense had a bad game. After allowing the Netherlands to jump to a 1-0 lead early in the game, it was clear that the defense was in for a long day. When it was 2-0 before the half, it was clear that the defense had no answer for the strong Dutch attack. The third goal spoke for itself and it was a result of poor defending.
The USA did show a bit of resiliency by scoring a late goal and coming very close to making it a 2-2 game in the 80-minute mark. However, the Netherlands' Denzel Dumfries sealed it in the 81st minute. Dumfries finished the game with two assists and a goal and he proved to be too much for the USA to handle defensively. US goalie Matt Turner made four saves while the USA defense made eleven clearances along with eleven interceptions.
Since the USA is already qualified for the 2026 World Cup, they know what they need to work on in the next four years. The two main objectives are to fix the attack and find and develop a legit goal-scoring talisman and build and organize a defense capable of shutting down offensive threats. Before commencing the preparation process for 2026, the USA needs to move on from Gregg Berhalter and find a better manager. In the USA's case, maybe their 3-1 loss in the round of 16 is an important lesson for the team to learn ahead of the 2026 World Cup.