USMNT falls to Netherlands in Round of 16 of World Cup

Christian Pulisic(10) scores against Iran to advance the US to the Round of 16.

Christian Pulisic(10) scores against Iran to advance the US to the Round of 16.

Riley Daniels, Staffer

The United States Men’s National Team (USMNT) lost to Netherlands 3-1 on Saturday, Dec. 3, in the Round of 16 of the 2022 Fifa World Cup. This was their first game of the knockout stage, and ended up being their only game. Although they lost by two goals, the USMNT played fairly well. They had more possession, more shots and nearly found themselves up 1-0 in the third minute when Christian Pulisic had a great opportunity with just the goalkeeper to beat. Their first crucial mistake was in the 10th minute when a Deutch player was unmarked on a cross, burying the shot to give Netherlands a 1-0 lead. In the last few minutes of the first half, the U.S. was pressuring Netherland’s goal, but the U.S. made the same mistake with only 30 seconds left, facing a 2-0 deficit at halftime. Hope came back when they cut the deficit to only one goal after Haji Wright scored an extraordinary goal. But yet another mistake gave Netherlands a third goal, just about ending the possibility for a comeback. The U.S. had the opportunities to score, but couldn’t make anything of them, whereas the Netherlands made use of every opportunity. They put up a good fight for most of the game, which was good to see.

After failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, the collective international experience on this team was very low. Only one player had ever played in a World Cup, DeAndre Yedlin. They had the second youngest team in the tournament, with an average age of 25.2, much younger than their average age in 2014, which was 27.8. The US was placed in Group B, along with Wales, England and Iran. They were expected to make it out of the group stage along with England, but advance no further than that. Their first game was against Wales, resulting in a 1-1 tie. They had a 1-0 lead with less than ten minutes to play, but gave up a late goal on a penalty kick. Many people questioned the decision made by head coach Gregg Berhalter to bench Gio Reyna the whole game. Reyna was expected to be one of the team’s top players. Berhalter later said Reyna had leg tightness, but Reyna denied those claims. The tie put them in a difficult spot to advance. 

Then came one of the most hyped up games of the whole tournament, US vs England. Soccer vs Football. Many didn’t believe the U.S. had the skills required to keep up with England in this match. They didn’t just keep up with them; they outplayed England. They were inches away from winning when Pulisic hit the crossbar of England’s goal. The game ended in a well played 0-0 tie. 

With two ties in two games, the US had to beat Iran in their last game to make the Round of 16. Tensions before the game were very high due to the two country’s troubled relationship. The U.S. Soccer Federation posted the standings on Twitter, which contained an edited Iranian flag without the emblem of the Islamic Republic. The Iranian government then accused the US of removing the name of God from their flag. The next day, the post was removed. “We wanted to show our support for the women in Iran fighting for basic human rights,” said the federation. In the 38th minute, Pulisic scored on a volley, a goal they needed badly. On the play, Pulisic collided with Iran’s goalie and suffered a pelvic contusion. He was pulled from the game minutes later and taken to the hospital. The game got a little shaky in the end, but the U.S. kept their cool to advance. 

This was the first time the American fans have had hope for the team in years. The team has four years to improve until the next World Cup in 2026, which the U.S. will co-host with Canada and Mexico. Looking how far the team has come from 2018, where they weren’t even in the tournament, the team could be very good in 2026. The future of the United States National Team looks very promising, with hopes of winning their first ever World Cup for the home fans.