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USMNT knocked out of World Cup in round of 16 by clinical Netherlands

<i>Elsa/Getty Images</i><br/>The USMNT have only reached the quarterfinals once since 1934 -- in 2002.
Getty Images
Elsa/Getty Images
The USMNT have only reached the quarterfinals once since 1934 -- in 2002.

By Issy Ronald, CNN

The United States Men’s National Team (USMNT) was defeated 3-1 by the Netherlands and knocked out of the World Cup in the round of 16, despite a spirited performance.

The Netherlands had been underwhelming during the group stages but showcased its quality and clinical edge on Saturday, with three well-taken goals from Memphis Depay, Daley Blind and Denzel Dumfries.

Haji Wright pulled one back for the USMNT late in the second half with his team trailing 2-1, but any comeback hopes were snuffed out by Dumfries’ 81st minute goal to all but confirm the Dutch victory.

US President Biden expressed pride in the USMNT’s performance in the World Cup following the team’s defeat , making a nod to the next World Cup in 2026, which will be held in the US as well as Canada and Mexico.

“Fellas, you made us proud. We get up and keep going,” Biden tweeted. “Here’s to a bright future and 2026 back here at home.”

Dutch delight

The USMNT had more shots on goal than the Netherlands but once again, the lack of a proven goalscorer proved costly for Gregg Berhalter’s young team.

This was the USMNT’s youngest ever starting XI for a World Cup knockout match who lined up to face the Netherlands, aiming to reach the quarterfinals for just the second time in the modern era.

Berhalter’s side controlled the opening exchanges, finding space in behind the Dutch defense and Christian Pulisic had an early chance, going one-on-one with Oranje goalkeeper Andries Noppert who deflected the Chelsea forward’s shot away from goal.

Having soaked up that early pressure, the Netherlands then counterattacked with lethal precision.

After carving through the USMNT midfield, Cody Gakpo found Dumfries on the edge of the box who pulled the ball back to Depay perfectly positioned in front of the goal. The Barcelona forward finished off a sweeping move, firing the ball into the net.

The USMNT continued to press — a strike from Timothy Weah was batted away by Noppert and Sergiño Dest went on several mazy runs — but just could not find a way past the Dutch defense.

And then, on the stroke of halftime, the Netherlands doubled its lead as Blind rifled in Dumfries’ cross in an almost identical move to its first goal.

Immediately after the break, the USMNT almost pulled a goal back as the ball bobbled about in the box from a corner and Tim Ream guided it inches from the goal-line but the Netherlands cleared.

USMNT goalkeeper Matt Turner prrevent an almost certain goal as he made a double save, stopping two strikes in quick succession to keep his side’s fading hopes of reaching the quarterfinals alive.

His quick reflexes proved even more crucial minutes later when the USMNT finally scored as Wright latched onto Pulisic’s cross, with his effort looping over Noppert’s head.

The noise in the stadium, seemingly filled with American fans, briefly became deafening but just minutes later Dumfries hammered in Frenkie de Jong’s cross to confirm the Netherlands’ victory.

With that goal, Dumfries became the first Dutch player to be directly involved in more than three goals in a single World Cup match since 1978, according to the statistics website OptaJoe.

USMNT star Christian Pulisic said he was “really proud” of the team’s performances at the World Cup.

“I hope we showed a lot of people what we can do,” Pulisic told FOX’s Jenny Taft. “We deserved more from this tournament. End of the day, we couldn’t get it done, but I think there’s a lot we can be proud of.

“It hurts a lot right now,” added Pulisic. “We thought we could have advanced and done a lot more this time around, but I love these guys, and it’s a really special group that we have.”

The Netherlands now advances to the quarterfinals where it will face either Argentina or Australia on Friday.

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