The US men’s national team, which included only one player who had any World Cup experience coming into this tournament, facing the Netherlands on Saturday at 10 a.m. ET. While many fans thought they had made it to the Round of 16, the players don’t feel the same way. They are ready to wait, saying that the job is not done yet.
The USMNT – led by Christian Pulisic, who will return from injury – are looking to advance to their second quarterfinal berth in 20 years and third overall. But Oranje stands in the way. Dutch starlet Cody Gakpo, 23, has found the back of the net in every game so far.
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The United States trailed for the first time in this World Cup after Memphis Depay’s 10th-minute goal for the Netherlands. The Barcelona man crossed inside the penalty area for the first time, beating USMNT goalkeeper Matt Turner at the far post.
This is the first goal the Americans have conceded since opening play here in Qatar.
For years, Christian Pulisic carried the burden of the USMNT’s failure to make it to the 2018 World Cup. Now, with a young, talented squad, that lift is much lighter.
“Honestly, this team really helps take the pressure off me,” Pulisic said Thursday. “A few years ago there were times maybe I felt I had to do more. But with the guys, I don’t feel like that at all, to be honest. I know they have my back.”
DOHA, QATAR – Al Khalifa is the only stadium that also has a track, which pushes the seats far back from the pitch. It’s certainly taking away some of the pre-match energy, although the USMNT fans made themselves heard when Christian Pulisic was introduced. Lots of US flags in the stands – or people wearing flag-like shirts – along with one English flag. Why? Your guess is as good as mine.
— Nancy Armor
Christian Pulisic starts for the USMNT. Jesús Ferreira will see his first minute of the tournament, while Josh Sargent is unavailable with an ankle injury. The USMNT will field 25 players against the Dutch.
The Netherlands is dealing with a flu going around the team at the moment. Coach Louis van Gaal gave players the day off on Thursday instead of running a typical 11-on-11 game.
He declined to elaborate on how many players are affected.
Contributing: Associated Press
DOHA, Qatar – Gregg Berhalter can now admit that he was “completely unprepared” for professional soccer when he went to the Netherlands out of college.
He would put the ball to someone’s wrong foot. And get yelled at. He had a teammate who wanted to deliver balls without any spin, which Berhalter struggled to do. So he would get yelled at. His passes weren’t always as crisp as they needed to be. So he would cry more.
“There were a lot of details that I was missing in college that I learned in Holland,” Berhalter said Friday.
And the lessons he learned there are now seen in the men of the USA.
It’s fitting that the USMNT’s path to the World Cup quarterfinals goes through the Netherlands, given the impact the Dutch game has had on this squad.
— Nancy Armor
Like many other World Cup teams in this tournament, the Netherlands are battling the flu. The bug went through the US squad last week.
Dutch coach Louis van Gaal gave his team the day off on Thursday instead of playing a normal 11-on-11 game.
“I gave them a day of rest,” Van Gaal said on Friday. “With this group, they let me know that. I listen to my players.”
He declined to elaborate on the number of players affected, but by abandoning the typical training schedule, Van Gaal led to speculation that at least six players were ill.
“We’re not going to elaborate on that,” he said. “But if it goes around in the group, it’s a cause for concern.”
Frenkie de Jong A scratchy throat is said to have affected his ability to communicate during the win over Qatar, while Marten de Roon told reporters he had a cold earlier this week.
— Associated Press
Steady defense, Christian Pulisic and plenty of stamina will be key factors for the USMNT during Saturday’s World Cup final against the Netherlands.
USA TODAY sports columnist Nancy Armor he does what the US needs to do to make progress to his last appearance in the second quarter in 20 years.
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The USA men have never won the World Cup. In fact they have only been to the quarter-finals of the competition twice before.
Meanwhile, reigning champions France attempt to do something only Italy and Brazil have done before – win the men’s FIFA World Cup trophies. But the road to victory will not be easy with their growing list of injuries.
This is who USA TODAY Network Reporters think that champions will come out (disclaimer: picks were made before the competition started):
The USMNT is guaranteed at least $13 million in prize money from this World Cup, a figure that could rise to $17 million if they beat the Netherlands in the round of 16 on Saturday. Thanks to the historic collective bargaining agreement reached in May between US Soccer and its national teams, half of that prize money will go to the US women.
Signs say “yes.”
Pulisic said, “I’m doing everything I can to be out there on the field on Saturday.” The USMNT star was cleared to play on Friday night, after going through training.
Pulisic went off at half-time against Iran with a pelvic contusion. He took a knee to his pelvic bone in a high-speed collision with Iran’s goalkeeper after scoring in the 1-0 win that sent the USMNT into the knockout rounds of the World Cup.
Contributing: Nancy Armour
Time: Saturday, December 3 at 10 am ET
Stadium: Khalifa International Stadium
How to watch: FOX and Telemundo or stream on fuboTV and Peacock (Spanish)