The US team had never trailed in 2020 World Cup play, a stretch that ended in the 10th minute of its match Saturday—after the Americans had failed to score on their best chance of the day when Christian Pulisic had the Netherlands' goalkeeper one-on-one. Minutes later, Memphis Depay drilled a shot past US goalkeeper Matt Turner, and the pace of the game changed, NPR reports. The Netherlands slowed up, pulling defenders back to ensnarl US attacks. Just before halftime, the US gave up a second goal, again on a cross that reached an attacker outrunning US defenders. The Netherlands made the difference clear in the 3-1 victory, per Yahoo Sports: It could finish, and the US could not.
That frustrated the rebuilding effort of the US, which brought the tournament's second-youngest team to Qatar, and ended the team's 2022 World Cup run after it reached the round of 16 for the fifth time. The Netherlands moves to the quarterfinals Friday against either Argentina or Australia; the US has not advanced to the quarterfinals since 2002, per the Washington Post. In their first three matches—against Wales, England, and Iran—the Americans ran hard, played with cohesion, and didn't give up a goal. The teamwork faded Saturday, per the New York Times.
Turner said defensive play was the difference. "We were allowing balls into the box and just not tracking runners," he said, per CBS Sports. "And when you let good teams with world-class players run freely onto a ball, it can make things pretty difficult for us." US Coach Gregg Berhalter said he was "bitterly disappointed" but proud of his players; the US team hadn't qualified for the World Cup in 2017. "This is a difficult one to handle," Berhalter said. "It's such a good group of guys, such a close group of guys." (Read more 2022 World Cup stories.)