The Netherlands defeat the United States in a tense game to advance to the quarter finals of the World Cup (Photo: FIFA World Cup/Twitter)

In a tense affair, The Netherlands used their top-tier wing play to send the United States out of the World Cup despite a great effort by the Americans.

In the first round of 16 game of this World Cup, the Netherlands took on the United States in what was looked at as a true David vs Goliath matchup.

Going into the match up, the Dutch were looked at as heavy favourites over the Americans after easily topping Group A. Having world-class players like Virgil Van Dijk and Frankie De Jong on their team along with one of the tournament’s most exciting breakout stars in Cody Gakpo, they were expected to beat the United States with ease.

The US on the other hand had the second-youngest team in the tournament and had looked good in the group stages after finishing second behind England. The main youngster that impressed for the States was Leeds United midfielder Tyler Adams, who does his best work as a lone six in a midfield three.

But when it was all said and done, the Dutch proved their class despite a spirited effort from the Americans, with wing-backs Denzel Dumfries and Daley Blind being the difference makers.

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From the start, the United States played a high defensive line while using a high press to put pressure on the ball carrier. The tactics almost paid off spectacularly when Pulisic was given a huge opportunity in the first two minutes, but the ball was hit by his weaker left foot and went straight to Dutch goalkeeper Andries Noppert.

When the Netherlands caught them on the break, the high line of the United States would come back to bite them as Memphis Depay buried the ball in the bottom left corner after a Dumfries cross to make it 1-0. The goal makes Depay the second all-time highest goal scorer for the Dutch National team, only trailing behind Robin Van Persie.

The United States continued to press and had a few good attacking moments including a clean strike from Timothy Weah that was saved by Noppert. In the dying moments of the first half, Dumfries once again crossed the ball and found Daley Blind who slotted it in for 2-0, seemingly putting the game to bed.

In the first half, it was recorded that the USA had 63% possession, but the Dutch had simply taken their chances when in front of goal.

The second half started at a high tempo, with both teams searching for the next goal to set the tone of the game. In the first five minutes both teams had big chances to score, US defender Tim Ream saw his effort cleared off the line by Cody Gakpo and a near-own goal from Walker Zimmerman was saved by Matt Turner.

The Dutch tried to get back control of the game as the Americans had a lot of chances early on, but just as they were starting to slow down their opponents, Depay accidentally fed the ball to Haji Wright who rounded the keeper and had his shot blocked by Dumfries.

Wright would get another chance after a cross from Pulisic, and even though he made only the slightest of contact with the ball it fell into the net to make it 2-1, which put the high-pressing Americans back in the game.

Just when the United States found hope, Dumfries capitalised on poor marking by sneaking into the box to score an unmarked goal to make it 3-1 in the 81st minute to all but seal the game for the Dutch.

The Americans would have a few more chances before the game finished, but didn’t have any end product as the game ended 3-1 in favour of the Netherlands.

Denzel Dumfries was the key man on the pitch after scoring one goal and assisting the other two. Throughout the game Dumfries mainly operated higher in the midfield, if he was on the counter-attack the Dutchman would always look for a low cutback and would arrive late in the box during any possesional play if the ball was at the opposite flank, This would leave him isolated like he was for the third Dutch goal.

Denzel Dumfries’ full game heatmap vs United States (Source: Sofascore)

The win for the Dutch side will see them face the winner of the Australia vs Argentina clash later on in the morning. Despite the defeat for the United States, they can look at the performance with many positives after going toe to toe with one of the better teams in the tournament and with a very young squad, the future looks bright for the American National Football Team.

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