Did you see what the United States did to the Netherlands?!
In the world of soccer, at least.
Yesterday, the United States Men’s National Team took to the pitch in Amsterdam to play against the Netherlands, who have finished second and third respectively at the last two World Cups.
Considering that the USMNT has failed to advance past the round of 16 since 2002 when the U.S. beat down Mexico by the classic score of 2–0 (dos a cero), it was looking to be a difficult day of soccer for the visiting team.
But, once the whistle blew and the game got underway, one could hardly tell who was supposed to be the favorite in this match.
Until the Dutch got on the scoreboard off a marvelous header from Klass Jan Huntelaar in the 27th minute, the U.S. certainly looked like the better team. They had generated the first three of four legitimate scoring opportunities and even looked like the team in control with more possession than the Netherlands. Unfortunately for the U.S., their lack of composure when shooting at goal kept them from taking the lead first.
Inadequate marking on defense from the Yanks along with a well-placed header from the Dutch was enough to put the U.S. behind early.
After a few more close-calls for the U.S., they were finally able to capitalize on their good play and get a goal in the back of the net, courtesy of Gyasi Zardes acrobatically directing the ball past the keeper.
Just before halftime, my least favorite player on the USMNT, Kyle Beckerman, turned the ball over right in front of his goal box and that led to another goal the Dutch. Fortunately, there was a foul called prior to the goal and it was called back. You luck out this time, Beckerman, you dirty hippy.
Overall, the first half seemed to be a fair score. Both sides appeared fairly evenly matched and the scored reflected that.
After halftime, however, the Dutch hurricane began to wreak its havoc.
Within the first eight minutes of the second half, the Netherlands had scored two more goals. One was courtesy of another beautiful cross-and-header scored by Huntelaar and the other would’ve been the hat-trick for Huntelaar had it not deflected off of Memphis Depay, off the post, and into the goal.
After those two goals, the Dutch had a 3–1 lead and momentum on their side.
After another shaky 20+ minutes of play in which the Netherlands looked to be the better side, the U.S. got ahold of their second wind.
On a strong counter-attack — where the Dutch seemed to be at their most vulnerable the entire game — captain Michael Bradley passed a beautiful through ball to a streaking DeAndre Yedlin (my favorite player) on the edge of the 18-yard box, who promptly whipped the ball into the center of the box to be hammered into the back of the net by John Brooks.
I seem to remember another quite meaningful goal that Brooks scored not too long ago…
After that goal, the momentum had seemed to shift back into the Yanks’ favor. But that would not be proven until the last few minutes of the game.
In the 89th minute, with the score at 3–2, the U.S. had a corner kick, but even better yet, a glimmer of hope.
The cross was sent in and immediately cleared by a Dutch player. Unfortunately for them, it was cleared directly to second-half substitute Danny Williams. He decided to take matters into his own feet and shot the ball toward the goal, only to have it deflect off a Dutch player (as well as the crossbar) and have it end up exactly where he wanted it end up anyways — in the back of the net.
The comeback was on.
With the score now tied up at three apiece, and the momentum heavily in with the U.S. there was only stoppage time to separate the two team from the end of the game. But the U.S. weren’t going out with out a victory. Having scoring three goals for the first time since October 2013, why not go for another one?
In yet another strong counter-attack for the U.S., the Yanks were able to expose the Dutch defense yet again and take the lead for good.
The situation was very similar to the one that resulted in the second goal of the match for the U.S. so they decided to go about it the same way. A well-placed through ball from Michael Bradley to a streaking Jordan Morris (who’s a sophomore at Stanford) who then slotted the ball right to the feet of Bobby Wood. From there, it went past the Dutch keeper and into the back of the net.
The U.S. was ahead with only a few hundred seconds remaining in the match.
When the time ticked away on the referee’s watch, he blew the whistle and ended the game and any hopes that the Dutch had of tying things up.
In a run of bad games that saw the USMNT go a measly 3–4–3 since the World Cup, they were ready for a big win, and so was I.
I was beginning to wonder about Jurgen Klinsmann — I’ve always liked him and what he brings to the team — but today helped his case a lot and improved my overall perspective on the team, who had begun to develop a habit giving up late goals that either led to the U.S. relinquishing the lead or going down a point.
Jurgan certainly did a crafty job designing his squad.
But, the goals (as well as who scored them) helped me feel a whole lot better about the team. They proved that they have solid depth, considering they left out seasoned veterans like long-time captain Clint Dempsey and the pair of starting center-backs from last year’s World Cup, Omar Gonzalez and Matt Besler.
Plus, scoring four goals on a team like the Netherlands helps how I feel about the team’s offense a whole lot.
Even though the game was just a friendly, it’s still a valuable win.
Oh, and, one more thing.
Before the match had begun, the Netherlands were ranked #6 in the world FIFA rankings and the U.S. was ranked 27th.
Let’s see if that changes at all after this game.
Now it’s on to play reigning world champion Germany on Wednesday.
The Rating: 84/100
Pro: Far from a great performance, but this victory felt really good. The USMNT did what it took to beat a very talented Dutch team, and it was definitely an exciting game.
Con: Like I said, it was from a great game. Having to come back from two goals down is never an ideal situation. But hey, I’ll take it.
My name is Jack Russillo and I’m a college freshman who just moved to the big city (Seattle) from a small town in the middle of nowhere. Every day I rate something on a scale of 1 to 100.
Feel free to hit the “recommend” button if you liked my post so that others may find it and enjoy it as well.