Netherlands’ stout defensive game will test USMNT in World Cup knockout round
As a reward for the USMNT’s 1-0 win over Iran on Tuesday, the American side earned a date with the Netherlands in the World Cup knockout round on Saturday.
With just 16 teams remaining in the tournament, the U.S. can’t overlook La Oranje.
The Dutch escaped Group A without suffering a loss, finishing 2-1-0 They boast certain strengths that the U.S. will need to be aware of before kickoff.
Here’s a closer look at what the Netherlands will bring to Saturday’s match from Khalifa International Stadium:
Netherlands began its World Cup in Group A. Specifically, its journey started with a 2-0 win over Senegal. Strong defense and late goals from Cody Gakpo and Davy Klaassen ensured a strong opening. Nevertheless, Ecuador gave the Dutch all they could handle. Gakpo scored during the sixth minute, but Netherlands was unable to add to its early lead. Ecuador’s Enner Valencia knotted the match up at 1 when he scored in the 49th minute. The game eventually ended in a draw, but the Dutch more than made up for the misstep with a dominant 2-0 win over Qatar to end group play and enter the knockout rounds on a high note.
The Dutch boast a strong defense. They conceded just eight goals in 10 games in World Cup qualifying. Coach Louis Van Gaal has instilled a strong defensive identity and has the players to support his vision. Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk leads the way and Man City’s Nathan Ake and Ajax’s Jurrien Timber line up alongside him in a formidable back three.
La Oranje is not a particularly sturdy bunch. Their lack of width requires them to rely on their wing-backs to get forward down the flanks. The United States will look to exploit this trait and force chances on the other end of the pitch.