March 21, 2024

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Sports Tips & Best Gear Reviews

Netherlands Vs USA: Time for ‘soccer’ to Take Centrestage

4 min read
Netherlands Vs USA Time for ‘soccer' to Take Centrestage

In a match that would have been inevitable a few years ago, the US takes on European juggernauts.

Showcase game
Netherlands vs USA (Round of 16)
8.30 pm, Khalifa International Stadium

During their goalless group-stage draw against England, a chant constantly emerged from the USA faithful: “Soccer, that’s what it’s called!”

The USMNT has been making covert promises about this competition. They haven’t given up a goal that wasn’t scored from the penalty spot yet, they appear well-drilled in the middle of the field, they’ve controlled large stretches of games, and they’ve shown some promising forward movement.

Weston McKennie and Timothy Weah, among others, have demonstrated promise. Captain Tyler Adams has displayed brilliant assurance both on and off the field. Even Christian Pulisic, who plays on the periphery for Chelsea, has displayed impressive skill; his bravery shone when he scored the winning goal against Iran to ensure that the US would advance to the knockout rounds.

However, they never receive the same attention as other less well-known countries performing in Qatar. Their accomplishments aren’t celebrated in the same way that “upsets” in Asia and Africa are, their strategies aren’t as keenly dissected, and the player biographies aren’t as widely shared.

This may be due to widespread contempt for American “soccer” — the use of that word is likely to infuriate purists everywhere — as well as a European view that Americans should stick to American sports and not theirs. Few would contest that over the past ten years, more than at any other time, Europe has emerged as the center for the player and tactic development in football.

In addition to the last four world champions, the best leagues, coaches, facilities, and players are from the continent.

That viewpoint is shared in the US as well. The best players on this team have all made their names at elite clubs in Europe, and the English Premier League is just as popular in the nation as its own Major League Soccer (MLS). And now, by taking on one of the continent’s titans, this young, talented generation of players hopes to dispel the myth that “soccer” is inferior to football.

The Netherlands has a long history in football and has advanced to the World Cup final three times. All of today’s modern systems bear traces of the possession-based playing style made popular by Dutch teams in the 1970s and 1990s. One of the foremost proponents of that philosophy is in charge of this team.

After overcoming prostate cancer to emerge from retirement and take charge of this Dutch team, Louis van Gaal, now 71, is still as aggressive as ever. This team has displayed typical Van Gaal traits, including playing styles, complaints, and grimaces in response to criticism.

In some ways, Dutch football has been quite similar to American football—there is a lot of control and promising play, but there are few clear-cut opportunities and incisive finishes—but they have been held to a higher standard—understandably given the talent gap. Van Gaal was particularly enraged when a reporter asked him in the post-match press conference if his team was “boring” after their 2-0 victory over Qatar on Monday.

“If you think it’s boring, why don’t you go home,” he said, true to form.

However, based solely on individual talent, Van Gaal’s team leads. Cody Gakpo has emerged as one of the tournament’s breakout stars, while Virgil van Dijk and Frenkie de Jong continue to rank among the best players in the world at their respective positions. Also helpful would be Memphis Depay’s return to form.

However, the US is given a chance. They are capable of defeating a game giant who is bristling with individual talent but lacking in cutting edge, just like Germany or Belgium have. The pressure is off, they won’t control possession and create chances that go against the flow of the game, and their structured pressing will enable them to isolate Dutch defenders and midfielders who are on the ball in the opposing half in order to force errors.

Although the rivalry between soccer and football will probably never end, the US can give soccer an equal stake in the game by upsetting things.

Other fixture:

Argentina vs Australia (Round of 16), 12.30 am (Sunday), Al Rayyan Stadium

Since the opening-day upset loss to Saudi Arabia, Lionel Messi and the company have only gotten better. They performed at their best against Poland, relying less on Messi’s flashes of brilliance and more on chance creation in an attacking team with deftness, quickness, and creativity.

The addition of Enzo Fernandez to the starting lineup helped the team’s balance and made Lionel Scaloni’s team look more like the favorites they had been predicted to be before the tournament began. Enzo Fernandez played in the center of midfield, allowing Rodrigo De Paul to advance further.

They face unpredictable foes in their matchup with Australia. The Socceroos were one of the worst teams going into this tournament, but they have proven to have tremendous heart and defensive tenacity by defeating Tunisia and Denmark by a score of 1-0 and progressing this far. Once again, they are the big underdogs, but they seem to enjoy being in that position.


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