Christian Pulisic and the USA have been eliminated from the 2022 World Cup after a 3-1 defeat to the Netherlands at the Khalifa International Stadium.
It could have been a different result had Pulisic himself netted just two minutes into the contest. It was the first chance of the first half, with the Chelsea forward being flicked through on goal by captain Tyler Adams, but his left-footed shot was saved by the shins of the Dutch goalkeeper.
Pulisic will perhaps think he should have scored but in truth it was a fantastic save from the Heerenveen shot-stopper. The USA were made to pay for the missed opportunity eight minutes later, as Barcelona striker Memphis Depay slotted home from 12-yards.
It was a beautifully crafted Dutch goal, with one-touch passing from their own half leading to a simple opportunity for the striker to net. There were 20 Dutch passes before the ball bulged the net – the most on record for a Netherlands goal at the World Cup (since 1966).
Daley Blind, formerly of Manchester United just like Depay, doubled the Netherlands’ advantage on the stroke of half-time.
It was a similarly well-worked goal to the first, the Dutch’s second attempt on target, as the ball was played directly across the box for the left-back to freely strike the ball home.
Tim Ream should have scored from a corner just moments after the second period began, with what would have been a vital goal on his 50th American cap. Pulisic then had his second attempt on target with a curling effort moments later, though it was straight at Andries Noppert.
Gregg Berhalter’s side grew into the game and were much-improved after the interval in Al Rayyan, and it was Pulisic who provided a crucial assist for Haji Wright to halve the deficit with 15 minutes left to play. He fired a low cross across goal with the striker flicking a miraculous effort into the back of the net.
It instilled belief in the Americans but not for long. The Dutch reinstated their two-goal surplus with just 10 minutes to play. Blind’s inviting cross was met at the back post by Denzel Dumfries, who was unmarked, and could pick out the bottom corner with ease.
It was a costly lack of concentration for the USA, who were looking increasingly likely of equalising. It was a great tournament for the USA, reaching the last-16 just as they did in 2010 and 2014.
The USA are co-hosting the 2026 World Cup with Canada and Mexico.