The Netherlands, the eternal contender, triple runner-up in the world -1974 (led by the unrepeatable Johan Cruyff), 1978 (without him) and in 2010, when they lost in the final of the World Cup in South Africa against the virtuous Spain– and two more times semifinalist -the last one eight years ago, in Brazil, where she finished third, in the first stage of Louis Van Gaal- could not miss the opportunity to apply among the candidates to lift the Cup in Qatar. And this time she made good predictions that marked her as a favorite against the United States.
Since it was third in the first World Cup in history, that of Uruguay 1930, the United States, which presented the quarterfinals of Korea and Japan 2002 as the best classification -a stage that it achieved after eliminating Mexico-, was faced with an opportunity to match that mark. And, far from compromising, he launched the attack from the start; in a team in which the former Barcelona player Sergiño Dest, in the right lane, and the Valencian player Yunus Musah, indisputable in the center of the field with McKennie and the captain, Tyler Adams, formed from the beginning.
It was Christian Pulisic, the North American ’10’ -the one who with his goal knocked out the brave Iran of the Portuguese Carlos Queiroz from the tournament-, the one who, as soon as the game started, put Noppert to the test. Gregg Berhalter wants a team with a winning mentality, he wants his players to have fun; and learn from experience. Without fear of anyone. Taking the initiative.
But the Dutch, with whom Barcelona’s Memphis Depay formed from the beginning – who returned to the team’s attack in the third and last game of the group stage, in which, after defeating the host of the tournament, the ‘oranje’ certified their pass to the round of 16- and Frenkie De Jong, were not uncomfortable giving the ball to ‘Team USA’.
And in the first seriously braided play, brilliantly, passing through the catalyst De Jong, the ball ended up reaching Dumfries, Sergiño’s teammate at Inter, who with a sensational service on the right enabled Depay to hit with a hammer. Dry Turner. Before celebrating the goal with the team’s rising star, Cody Gapko (PSV Eindhoven) – who scored in all three group games – repeating the gesture of twisting his fingers in his ears.
Van Gaal’s team – which has gone 19 games in a row without losing as coach, with only one defeat in the last 47 – returned to leave the ball to the North Americans. And he was, therefore, about to burn himself. Because, in 1942, Tim Weah, son of the legendary George Weah, Ballon d’Or winner in 1985 and current President of Liberia, took a kick that put Turner in serious trouble.
The Dutch woke up, perhaps aware that the USA, before beating Iran, had only conceded a draw, a penalty, to Gareth Bale’s Wales, before bringing out the colors, with another equalizer against England. And, after Gapko was about to pick up Ream’s wallet; In another play, less elaborate, but very similar to that of the first goal, Dumfries crossed again from the right so that this time it was Daley Blind -son of another myth, Danny Blind, former coach of his country- who, just before that the first act closes, place the 2-0. Generating a true pineapple that he united, in his technical area, all the orange players.
At the restart and this time out of necessity, the Americans repeated the script of the first half. And in the first minutes they turned on the rival goal, with two clear chances for Ream (m.50) alone, in front of Noppert; and from McKenney (m.53) -who had enabled his teammate in the previous action-, with a shot from outside the area.
Although, at the time it opened, the Netherlands showed that it can be lethal. In minute 61, Memphis tested Turner again, who deflected a corner from a distant shot that was aimed at the squad. And nine minutes later, once again the Barça forward was on the verge of resolving the game, heading in Turner’s clearance from a powerful shot from Koopmeiners.
Berhalter gave his team rhythm to the meter in the field to Giovanni Reyna and Wright, who closed the gap, after a great action by Pulisic, on the right, in the 76th minute.
The party was animated, because the Americans were achieved above. They wanted to make their dream come true. But that dream was dashed just five minutes later. A sensational Blind crossed long from the left so that, on the fly and in the 81st minute, he connected with the left-footed Dumfries, closing the game and sealing a sensational personal performance.