Evaluating The USMNT Chances Against Netherlands: World Cup 2022

Evaluating The USMNT Chances Against Netherlands: World Cup 2022
Image ©Yukihito Taguchi-USA TODAY Sports
Frank Weber
Author:
Frank Weber
Updated: 
December 23rd 2022

My god, they’ve done it–with a 1-0 nail-biting win over Iran, the US Men’s National Team (USMNT) have secured their spot in the knockout round of the World Cup. They’ll face the Netherlands in their next match, which will kick off on Saturday, December 3rd, at 10:00 AM EST. This is the USMNT’s third time making it out of the group stages in the last four World Cups, and they’ll try to make it to the Quarter Finals for their first time since 2002. 

In order to do that, though, they’ll have to win their toughest game to date against the Netherlands. The Netherlands won Group A after winning two games and tying one, and are currently the eighth-ranked team in the entire world. They open as a fairly heavy favorite in Saturday’s match, currently sitting at -235 to win (-115 to win in regular time) according to DraftKings Sportsbook. The US, who are used to being an underdog, are at +175 to advance (and +360 to win in regular time).

You already know I’ve placed my (responsible) wager on the USMNT team to come out on top–but, if you want to do some more research before you place your bet, you’re in the right place. 

How The US Matches Up Against The Netherlands

While beating the Netherlands is a daunting task, the US has a better chance at doing so than some are giving credit. Both teams displayed a strong defensive unit in their group-stage games, with both sides only allowing one goal. Both teams also played a very possessive brand of soccer, both averaging over 50% possession in their three group-stage games. Where these two teams definitely defer, though, is at the offensive end of things. 

Led by Striker Cody Gakpo, the Netherlands have scored five goals so far in the World Cup, which trounces the USMNT’s total of two. Gakpo has scored three goals himself, which finds him tied for first in the Golden Boot award race (Kylian Mbappe and Enner Valencia also have three). Their midfield unit is also very strong, thanks to Frankie de Jong and Davy Klaassen, who have already recorded two assists in the tournament. 

All that said, the US has definitely been finding chances to score–they just have trouble capitalizing on them. In their three group-stage games, they’ve averaged over 8 shots–but in their games against Wales and England, only one of those has been on target. Christian Pulisic has been wonderful out on the wing, and Tim Weah’s early goal against Wales was impressive to say the least–but it doesn’t take an expert to realize that this team is missing a true goalscorer.  

Where the US has been performing above expectations, though, is in the midfield. Weston McKennie, Tyler Adams, and Yunus Musah have been phenomenal for the USMNT this World Cup, and they will be pivotal on Saturday against a tough Netherlands midfield. I have my eyes on Yunus Musah for that game, who played like a dog off his leash on Tuesday against Iran. He was all over the field, on the ball at all times, and was incredibly physical. If the US want to win on Saturday, Musah will have to show up and dominate the midfield like he did on Tuesday.

How The US Can Win

Speed. The answer to this is speed. 

The US needs to keep up with the Netherlands for all 90 minutes of the game. The Dutch have some incredibly quick attackers (Frankie de Jong, Memphis Depay, Cody Gakpo, etc.) so we have to make sure to keep out quickest players out on the pitch. If this means subbing in DeAndre Yedlin, then so be it. We can’t let these players get a 1 on 1 with Matt Turner, because even though Turner has been outstanding so far, these Dutch attackers will not squander a 1-on-1 opportunity. 

The US will also need to utilize speed on the attacking end, though, if they want to succeed against the Netherlands. In each of the Netherlands group-stage games, they’ve run with a three man defensive unit and no defensive midfielder. This could leave them open during counter-attacks that, of course, would have to start from the USA’s midfield players. Utilizing Pulisic and Weah out on the wings will be key, and a big ball played overtop by Dest in back or Musah in the midfield could produce some key attacking opportunities. 

All in all, this has already been a successful trip to Qatar for the US. They’ve made it out of the group stage and tied a game against England–what more could you really ask for? There’s no doubting the fact, though, that a win over the Netherlands on Saturday would be the biggest win in US Soccer history. So why don’t we go out and make it happen?

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