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USMNT Player Ratings: Turner and Pulisic among the few bright spots vs. Netherlands

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Looking for bright spots after a disheartening knockout-round loss is an exercise that can sometimes be futile, and that applies to the U.S. men’s national team’s 3-1 loss to the Netherlands.

The team that rolled through the group stage with one of the best defensive records in the tournament — the only team not to allow a goal in the run of play — turned into a tired-looking and mistake-prone bunch against the Dutch. A missed early chance by Christian Pulisic and early Memphis Depay goal saw the match swing and the Netherlands never looked troubled after that.

The Americans kept fighting though, even after going down 2-0 just before halftime, and their determination in the second half helped paint a rosier picture of the overall performance, but the fact remained that several of the team’s top group-stage performers fell well short of their group-stage levels against the Dutch and the result was an outcome that never truly seemed in doubt.

How did the Americans perform against the Netherlands? Here is a closer look at their individual performances:


Matt Turner – 6.5


Photo by John Todd/ISI Photos

Made some outstanding saves in the second half to keep the Americans close, and couldn’t be faulted for any of the three Dutch goals.


Sergiño Dest – 5.5


Tried his hardest to make things happen, and had more energy than most of his teammates, but he fell asleep on the second Dutch goal, which may have been the costliest one.


Walker Zimmerman – 5


Looked unsteady in possession at times, and overreacted defensively, often leaving himself in bad positions. His bicycle kick attempt was something.


Tim Ream – 6


Had some uncharacteristically bad passes that sparked Dutch counters, but overall he was the team’s best defender on the day, finishing with 11 recoveries and five duels won. He also had a goal-bound shot cleared off the line.


Antonee Robinson – 5

Photo by Rich Gordon/ISI Photos

An under-appreciated standout during the group stage, Robinson’s positioning and awareness were woeful against the Dutch and the Netherlands capitalized on that repeatedly. He was very active, managing a game-high 15 recoveries along with four interceptions, but he carries a big part of the blame for Denzel Dumfries having a big night.


Tyler Adams – 6


Didn’t track Memphis Depay on the opening Dutch goal, and looked tired, but still produced the best level of any of the USMNT midfielders. Finished with a tournament-low three duels won and seven recoveries, more recoveries than his midfield partners combined.


Weston McKennie – 5


A pedestrian performance from McKennie, who offered little getting forward and even less defensively. Did manage three shots, one on frame, but struggled to deal with his Dutch counterparts.


Yunus Musah – 4


The Dutch were clearly focused on neutralizing Musah, and kept bodies around him at all times, limiting his ability to influence the match. Musah also appeared to lack his usual energy, no doubt feeling the grind of playing three full group-stage matches. Had his lowest totals for the tournament in duels won (3) and recoveries (3).


Christian Pulisic – 6.5


Set up the lone USMNT goal, but it was his third-minute miss that looms the largest because of what it could have done to the match. In fairness, he was one of the few American players to play close to their group-stage level.


Jesus Ferreira – 3


Photo by Chris Brunskill/ISI Photos

Largely invisible for his 45 minutes on the field, managing to go without a shot and offering little in the defensive department. Pulled at halftime.


Tim Weah – 5


Had a good look just before halftime that was saved, his best contribution of the day. Managed that one shot and while connecting on 21 of 24 passes. Looked tired and offered little to win his side of the field for the Americans.


Gio Reyna – 5.5


Photo by John Todd/ISI Photos

Managed two shots, but zero successful dribbles and too often he tried forcing things that failed to generate much.


Haji Wright – 6


Scored the flukiest goal of the USMNT tournament, and completed all nine of his passes.


Brenden Aaronson – 5


Recovered four recoveries and three duels won during his 23 minutes, so he was very active defensively, but managed just eight completed passes and zero shots during his time in.


DeAndre Yedlin – NR


Won two duels and added a tackle in his 15-minute cameo


What do you think of these grades? Who deserved a better grade than they received? Who received too generous a grade?

Share your thoughts below.

Comments

  1. Many people are praising Van Gaal and blaming Berhalter a lot, but I look at is as they both took risks and either could have paid off. Despite Dutch tactics, if Pulisic buries that early chance, or we finish one of the many early attacks, then the whole game completely changes and all of the Netherlands is blaming Van Gaal. My Dutch friend was on the edge of his seat the entire game and was convinced the US would win (before the 3rd goal of course). Despite their tactics. We had chances to lead, to get back in the game, to win, but couldn’t convert.

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  2. Different world.

    Nobody in America knew who Ckint was. And he and those others did not live in a social media universe. That fact alone is what makes it far harder on Pulisic.

    Those guys all were not expected to do anything.

    Christian IS American soccer. The closest comparison is Landon. And the pressure broke him as he’ll gladly tell you
    and Landon played his entire career comfortably at home in Cali in MLS, not in the snakepit that is London and Chelsea, Champions League and title contender every year.

    Christian is a Champions League winner who actually played in the final. No other American has come anywhere close to that. A lot of non American players can’t come close to that. And at Chelsea he faces media pressure and scrutiny no other American player ever has. Tyler and Brenden and Timmy and Jedi all play in the EPL but compared to what Christian faces at Chelsea they are all big fish in a tiny pond vs Pulisic being a small fish in a giant pond full of predators. Think of playing at the New York Yankees vs. Playing at the Colorado Rockies.

    Leeds and Fulham are quaint little backwater clubs compared to Chelsea.

    And the last I checked he had a goal and 2 assists and was involved in every goal the USMNT created in this World Cup.

    As for Mbappe and Messi not minding pressure, have you all seen who those guys have for teamates? Or who manages their team?

    No one wins alone but Pulisic is unquestionably the USMNT ‘s most accomplished player and it’s not close.

    Clint and Landon were as good but they didn’t have to deal with the shit Pulisic has had to deal with.

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    • Not saying he hasn’t, but I think that pressure is a bit overplayed. Landon literally had to carry MLS for a decade. Pulisic is very talented. I personally think he should have stayed at Dortmund for another few years. He never locked down a starting spot and really didn’t achieve much with Dortmund. He is now a rotational player with Chelsea at best. He needs to make a move to another team where he can be a consistent starter and major contributor to a team. I hope he moves to Newcastle. That is a team he could really take to the top in the EPL. I firmly believe if Pulisic is playing game in and game out he will show his quality with a coach who trusts him. Newcastle wants him and Howe is the perfect coach to get the best out of Pulisic.

      Besides Robinson, Ream, Adams, Scally, Sargent, and Aaronson most of our players aren’t consistent starters for the European teams. Musah has now broken in at Valencia as a starter. McKennie is in and out for Juventus, and is on the tenasfer block. Reyna needs to stay healthy. Who knows what will happen with Dest at AC Milan, and Turner is going back to being a back up at Arsenal.

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      • But you know the internet was a lot more different from mid 2000s to 2015 when everybody and their mother was on social media. Back in early to mid 2000s it was kinda the wild wild west back than

    • I agree with your sentiment but not sure how Mbappe and Messi’s teammates or managers are a relevant comparison as far as pressure.

      Have you seen Christian’s teammates and managers? They’re the best in the world… champions league winners actually!

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    • “Clint and Landon were as good but they didn’t have to deal with the shit Pulisic has had to deal with.”

      LOL

      revisionist history at its best. all of them have to deal with it. LD WAS the USMNT…we literally had no chance without him for a couple of cycles, and everyone knew it. LD was part of the USMNT generation that knocked the snot out of Mexico…incredible pressure…and they have yet to recover. Mexico HATED him, absolutely villain. CP is that to our greatest rival Mexico, that same level of venom? No way, not even close, and if you don’t know that, I’m happy to inform you of the basics of USMNT history.

      could go on and on

      And unlike you, I am not going to look to diminish the pressure and shit on CP, at all, to make the point about the shit LD had to deal with

      Both

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      • You’re right about the pressure on LD.
        And the pressure broke him.
        It hasn’t broken Pulisic yet but we’ll see.

        He’ll tell you that.

        Landon was in a completely different universe than what Pulisic inhabits. Just like today’s USMNT is in a different universe than what , for example the 2002 and 2010 teams were in.

        Cliche warning, Apples and Oranges

  3. Interesting there is 2 USMNT friendlies scheduled in January against Serbia on the 25th and Colombia on 28th.

    Will be interested to see which MLS players get selected for those games.

    Good bet we see some u 20 talent called up for those two games.

    Looking forward to seeing who gets a callup.

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  4. It was pretty clear going in that the US did not have a forward who could score goals reliably. Some did ok for their clubs recently (Sargent, Wright, Pefok, Ferreira, Pepi) but none really lit it up for the USMNT consistently when given the chance.

    The team I think will win the WC is France, just because they have a wealth of attacking talent. What other team could lose Benzema and still have players with Mbappe and Giroud perform so well Benzema was scarcely missed?
    I suppose Brazil and England would be my choices as 2nd best. What do those teams have in common; more than one player who can be magical and score goals from nothing.

    The US does not have that attacking talent and until they do, our progress in the WC will be limited, no matter how well-coached they may be or how hard the defense is.

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    • If I was to bet right now I think it’s going to be a France V Brazil final. But I also think Argentina has had Brazils number lately, so if those two meet in the semis I might give Argentina a slight edge.

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    • I find al this concern about finding a good #9 interesting. While it is something we need, it’s not why we lost to the Dutch. We basically gave them 3 goals. That was the major problem. I think we need to find better CB’s for the future, even if they weren’t at fault for the goals, and we need to emphasize team D more. Ream is too old and Zimmerman isn’t good enough; they need to be replaced.

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      • so those first 2 goals are on the CBs? disagree there
        thought Ream was actually strong in the tournament, tho imperfect, but our weakside awareness and tracking failed. Van Gaal get credit from me for clearly being aware of this and exploiting it, so the FBs and weakside mids and wingers got beat pretty badly. it happens, in America up and down the landscape. So much emphasis for on the ball skills, strength and speed in US development, that’s what gets rewarded because it helps coaches and clubs win, so they can sell more team memberships, etc.

        Definitiely a fatal flaw in our system imo

      • It was really the outside backs who fell asleep that cost un against the Dutch. Of course, that needs to be fixed. The way GB wants to play asks for a lot of running from the fullbacks. To imagine that they could play 90 minutes every 4 days without showing signs of mental fatigue was wrong. Scally and Yedlin could have provided some relief for them.

        As for the need for a real #9, you can’t win games if you can’t score. That has to be fixed as well. Even if it is some retrograde 4-4-2 with Pulisic and Weah up top with the outside mids joining the attack, at least that wold be something that recognizes the lack or an outstanding #9 and tries to do something about it.

  5. A lot to be optimistic about going forward most of the player pool will be in the 22 to 28 age range in 2026. I’m sure a youngster or two will also emerge for that before the WC.

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  6. One thing important that I haven’t seen mentioned is how soft the US players were. To quote Klinsmann, they needed to get nasty. It looked like they were mostly trying to win the Fair Play Award. It was clear from the beginning that the ref wanted to keep his whistle and cards uninvolved as much as possible. Whenever the Dutch did a fast break, they went right up the middle and I don’t remember that they were ever stopped until they reached our box. There are ways you can stop a player without getting a card. The Dutch got 2 yellows because twice the US was breaking up the middle and the Dutch just chopped the player down. If you saw Senegal play England today, Senegal did a good job for a large part of the first half of stopping English attacks by not being afraid to foul. They were finally done in by the talent disparity.

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    • I agree. Need a bit more steel at times. I also never saw Adams barking at his own players in this game. The entire team just seemed off.

      Also this whole Pulisic having to much pressure thing is way overblown. I don’t see Mbappé, Messi etc… making comments about to much pressure. The great athletes welcome the pressure to perform. Jordan, Bird, Rice, Montana, Pelé, Maradonna, Gretzky, Brady, Jeter etc… all thrive and invited pressure. At some point American soccer will develop a player who wants the pressure and thrives under the pressure and says give me the ball and keep feeding me the ball.

      Pulisic is a very good player, but I don’t know if he has the trait that all of the great players have which is thriving under pressure.

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      • Well, we have had players like Dempsey and McBride who seemed to welcome the pressure and thrived in it. Defensively Lalas, Balboa and Onweyu were unafraid that some saw them as mostly brutes who welcomed the physical encounters.

      • Well, we have had players like Dempsey and McBride who seemed to welcome the pressure and thrived in it.

        Defensively Lalas, Balboa and Onweyu were unafraid that some saw them as mostly brutes who welcomed the physical encounters.

      • “Pulisic is a very good player, but I don’t know if he has the trait that all of the great players have…. ” which is thriving under pressure.”

        Pulisic is not a great player but he’s the best the USMNT has.

        So he gets to be the face of the team only he doesn’t have he kind of cred that guys like Mbappe, Messi, Neymar CR7, Kane and guys like that who are the faces of theri teams. That makes it harder on him.

        “which is thriving under pressure.”
        Even the greatest players wilt under pressure sooner or later or once in a while.

    • Definitely missing a Dempsey type of player in this team. It only did he welcome physical encounters he had the technical skill to back it up.

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      • That’s true but you’re forgetting that Clint played with Jermaine Jones who had a lot to do with giving those teams some steel.

    • I wonder if Wes and Dest getting yellows 13 mins into the WC played a role in that. 4 yellows in game 1, one in the last 3.

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      • beat me to it JR! some here really miss the nuances of what world soccer is. And for anyone to claim Senegal had a better tactical idea vs. England than the US in this tournament is drunk, at best. It’s nonsensical

      • I actually thought the yellow cards were substantially reduced in this World Cup compared to prior versions. I think there was a little pressure on refs in the first rounds to keep things clean and fair, but then the refs seemed very concerned about showing cautions in subsequent games that would result in a player being kept out of the next.

        I thought the Iran game in particular screamed out for a few extra yellow cards – for Iran for persistent infringement, and on the US for a couple pretty nasty tackles Musah) in the second half.

      • Absolutely.

        Cards are always potentially a big deal in the World Cup.

        One more reason why depth, experience and versatility matter so much.

        Especially when you get into the Round of 16 and onward.

        And especially when the guys with the cards are irreplaceable

        The experienced part comes into it because experienced players tend to know how to play hard w/o getting a card in the first place. And if they get one anyway, they tend to be better able to handle it and still play effectively.

  7. Many of the issues that plagued us early in the cycle, continued to up until the very last day. Onward- quite hopeful it will be upward.

    Was pretty bummed for a day- switching gears, looking forward to next run at this. Going to be fun. See you all there!

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  8. Rewatching the highlights again and it is very disheartening. You can pretty much tell it was instructed to Dumfries before game time to pull that ball back into the danger area like he did twice. Which means Van Gaal knew the US didn’t defend those pull back balls well.

    On the third goal Dumfries is literally standing all alone for over a minute. Robinson never looked over his shoulder and Turner never glanced that way to warn Robinson. As a GK you have to be aware of the back post runners.

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    • All 3 goals were much too easy for the Dutch and the last 2 were unconscionable given the situation. The last play of the first half they should have had all 10 players in the box and the Dutch never should have go9tten a shot off. And, with the 3rd goal, how do you not even see a guy all alone for that long?

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    • I would also suggest that somehow there was very little pressure on the ball before the cross, allowing a skilled, pin-point cross. Not excusing Jedi, but the 3rd goal was a team failure too. Another poster on Saturday pointed out on the lack of pressure – I am still not sure that it was Yedlin’s fault. After watching it a few times, the cross was the equivalent of a free kick. There is a reason that you get 10 yards on a free kick – because at the professional level that freedom gives (or should) an experienced player the ability to put the ball exactly where he wants it.

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    • There was one attempt at a scripted-play, short-corner in all 4 games. It didn’t pan out, but you could tell that there was some effort. I bet that the coaching staff will tell you that because of the short prep time that there was no time to . . . well, prepare for set plays. I don’t buy that.

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  9. Sometimes you just need to hit the ball over the back line and allow your wide players to chase. That keeps the defense thinking. Unfortunately Berhalter drilled into the team a slow methodical buildup play at all costs. You have to have multiple ways of beating an opponent. I don’t think Berhalter ever really constructed a plan b type of play.

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  10. Apparently none of the US players adapted to the Dutch defensive tactic of keeping their forwards wide, cutting off passing lanes from the US CBs to the fullbacks. They forced the CBs to carry the ball into the middle then the fullbacks and the rest of the US team moved more centrally. That simple tactic was largely responsible for limiting the US attacks up the sides and forced the fullbacks into even more running than they usually do. The US midfield moved backward and centrally, congesting the midfield and making it hard or impossible for them to receive the ball in a posture to attack.

    I think what needed to happen was for the fullbacks to stay wide and for the midfielders when they received the ball facing back and under pressure to knock the ball wide to the fullbacks. Apparently none of them saw that nor did the US coaching staff.

    The other opportunity afforded by the dutch defensive tactics was for the CBs to hit more balls behind the defense quickly for the attackers to run onto rather than carry the ball slowly up the middle and wait to pass until there was no space behind the retreating defense; despite Ream’s and Zimmerman’s passing ability that happened very rarely. The balls played centrally to Ferriera were largely wasted as he was unable to control and pass amid a crowd of defenders.

    Before the game I thought an advantage the US had over the dutch was that the US midfield is more mobile, but by keeping the field both narrow and short from front to back they frustrated the US ability to cover ground and made the game more about close control and movement in tight spaces. Then the dutch pushed the ball wide in attack only after moving close to a wide player who was either wide open or covered only by a late arriving fullback.

    As for the grades:
    I think both Reyna and Wright are too high as neither really imposed themselves on the game.
    Also, neither Ream or Zimmerman found a productive way to start the attack from the middle when the fullbacks were cut off from them. I would expect the most senior guys on the team to be able to see the tactical situation and try something different than slowly carrying the ball forward. So their grades should be lower too.

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