RAYYAN, Qatar — To beat the Netherlands, the U.S. men’s national team was going to have to put together its best performance of the World Cup.
The Americans fell short of their best, far too short, and the Dutch made them pay, scoring a pair of first-half goals before thwarting a late USMNT rally on the way to a 3-1 victory at Khalifa Stadium on Saturday.
Inter Milan wingback Denzel Dumfries led the way for the Dutch, setting up first-half goals by Memphis Depay and Daley Blind before sealing the victory with a goal of his own in the 81st minute. A finish that halted building American momentum after a Haji Wright goal in the 76th minute gave the USMNT some brief hope of a comeback.
The Netherlands will move on to the World Cup quarterfinals, where they will face the winner of Argentina-Australia on Friday. The Americans are heading home after the end of a promising tournament that ended in disappointing fashion.
The USMNT had a chance to start the game in dream fashion when Christian Pulisic slipped in behind the Dutch defense with a clear look at goal, but his shot was saved well by Dutch goalkeeper Andries Noppert in the third minute.
That fleeting moment of hope was quickly replaced by frustration and a lackluster rest of the half, as the Americans showed the fatigue of a team with nine players making their fourth World Cup start in 13 days. The Dutch were content to let the USMNT have the ball, picking their moments to hit the Americans on the counter when they were sloppy with the ball.
The Dutch broke through in the 10th minute with a beautiful passing sequence that culminated with Dumfries picking out Depay’s late run into the penalty. area, and the Barcelona forward made no mistake, beating Turner with a hard shot to open the scoring.
The USMNT rarely troubled the Dutch the rest of the half, but did have a golden look in the 44th minute when Tim Weah hit a hard shot that forced another good save from Noppert.
The Americans looked like they would go into halftime down a goal, which would have been a manageable scoreline, but the Dutch pounced just before the break, with Dumfries playing provider again, picking out Daley Blind’s back-post run as Blind caught Sergiño Dest napping and scored to make it 2-0 at halftime.
The introduction of Gio Reyna for Jesus Ferreira at halftime helped give the Americans a bit of life, but a goal didn’t come until the 76th minute, when a recycled corner kick made it to Pulisic, whose cross was clipped up and over Noppert by Haji Wright to give the Americans some hope.
That hope lasted just five minutes, when Dumfries played the hero again, slipping in behind the unsuspecting U.S. defense to collect a long pass and convert unmarked to make the final score 3-1.