Why the USA has a serious chance to beat the Dutch

Louis van Gaal said it right to our face: "We’re going to Qatar to become world champion."

So there’s nothing wrong with the attitude of the Dutch national team coach, but is it realistic? The Dutch have the talent, but there's a lot skepticism about van Gaal:

About changing the style of play from the traditional 4-3-3 system into a 5-3-2 formation.
About forcing at least five players to play differently than at their clubs.

The basics of Dutch Total Football is dealing with space, and players have to follow their instincts, the result of performing many years in the same position. With several players forced to act in a different way, this creates risks against highly motivated opponents who force you to think and play fast.

The first three games in Qatar showed that this has indeed become an Achilles heel. Although unbeaten (2-0 against Senegal, 1-1 against Ecuador and 2-0 over Qatar), the Orange Machine never came close to the swinging attacking style that is cherished by so many lovers of the game.

Nevertheless, van Gaal is not intending to change his formula against the USA, what means Gregg Berhalter and his players have a serious chance to win. Especially if they can be compact and use the wings to hurt the Dutch, as they did successfully in going unbeaten in the group stage.

An example: Van Gaal's choice to play with three central defenders at the back -- Jurrien Timber, Virgil van Dijk and Nathan Ake -- opens the door when you position Christian Pulisic and Timothy Weah out wide. In that case, Timber and Ake have to play like wing-backs, leaving Van Dijk alone in the center and creating space for deep-lying midfielders and defenders to run through.

The reason for this weak point is Van Gaal wants Denzel Dumfries, on paper the right back, to play as an attacker, and Daley Blind, on paper the left back, to perform like a offensive midfielder.

Senegal recognized how to tear the Dutch defense apart, which created a snow-ball effect and the Dutch never came close to playing a smooth passing game. Fortunately, the new kid on the block, 23-year-old Cody Gakpo, scored the opening goal in all three matches, giving the Dutch every time just enough air to breathe.

Meanwhile, van Gaal remains confident he can finish the job in his way. Criticism he deflects by saying that’s the way the media work and on the contrary Dutch fans are proud the team reached the last 16.

OK, let’s give him a break. 

So if Louis van Gaal gets his team performing like an Orange Machine, he'll have delivered a coaching masterpiece. And the reward that comes with it: Holland as world champion. 

We’ll see.

(Jaap de Groot is a Dutch sportswriter. He worked for 43 years at the daily De Telegraaf, serving as sports editor.)

Photos: Florencia Tan Jun/PxImages/Icon Sportswire, AFP.

15 comments about "Why the USA has a serious chance to beat the Dutch".
  1. Richard Beal, December 2, 2022 at 2:33 p.m.

    Is it true that the Netherlands have flue in their camp?

  2. Santiago 1314 replied, December 2, 2022 at 7:20 p.m.

    Trap "MJ" Game ???

  3. frank schoon, December 2, 2022 at 8:10 p.m.

    Jaap has an interesting theory, but I'm willing to bet if there is money placed on the game, he bet it on Holland to win. Also he forgets that many players  who play on other teams also have the same problems playing different system different systems.  Just look at how Pulisic plays for Chelsea ,totally different than on the US team. Or look at A.Robinson who plays different on Fulham...

    The problem for the USA is that they are not going to see the ball or rather the dutch will have possession of the ball so much that it will effect our attacks. This game will not allow the US play opportunistic ball, for it will be very controlled....

  4. Ben Myers replied, December 2, 2022 at 11:58 p.m.

    The USMNT challenge will be to use its team speed and quickness to break up the Oranje attack, followed by quick counterattacks.  

  5. frank schoon replied, December 3, 2022 at 8:01 a.m.

    Ben, all teams can employ the threat of fast counterattacks,after all, this WC is nothing but counterattacking soccer for so many teams play defensive. Just think Man.City basically plays with the intention in mind that their opponent can only counterattack against us. This is why Guardiola sets up things ahead of time for those possible counters. 

    You don't think van Gaal who was Guardiola's coach at Barcelona doesn't think along the same lines. Just Speed and quickness is good to have but the problem is that there is a ball involved, which changes things or rather adds to the difficulty factor....Speed then has to be seen in terms of fast ballhandling, fast thinking, quick anticipation, able to move with the ball in small spaces....and those qualities is what we lack.

  6. Santiago 1314 replied, December 3, 2022 at 8:27 a.m.

    Pace of the Game; That MI Amigo, is the 64 "BILLION"(Austin Powers) Question... If The Dutch are able to Slow the Game Down and Methodically Pick us Apart .. Long Day for USA... If we Turn it into a Leeds United States of America Track Match...WE WIN...
    Speaking of Austin Powers... Today(and Only Today)
    I Hate The Dutch .. ;)

  7. frank schoon replied, December 3, 2022 at 9:24 a.m.

    Santi, the dutch don't like to run unless it is necessary only, to prevent running after the USA turbo ,is too control the ball and let the USA run after the ball instead running after our players

  8. Bob Ashpole, December 2, 2022 at 9:18 p.m.

    The thought in this article that I can't get past is that "nasty" opponents "force you to think and play fast". The famous coaching wisdom that I prize above all else  is, "Be quick, but don't hurry" (John Wooden). Please Brer Fox, don't throw me in the briar patch! Somehow I don't think this author distinquishes "fast" from "quick".

    Wooden's advice is especially appropriate today in view of the prevalence of zone defenses.

  9. Santiago 1314 replied, December 3, 2022 at 8:33 a.m.

    Frank n Bob... (Sounds like a Monster...jajaja)
    Nasty Players do Make you think Quicker(No one wants to get hurt)
    I'm not sure the USA has any Nasty Players... Seem like a Genuinely Nice Group of Guys that Tries to Win the Ball Fairly, if Over exuberantly, at times...
    I don't think a Nasty Player is needed Today.... Now Argentina, that's another Question.!?!?!?

  10. Santiago 1314, December 3, 2022 at 8:40 a.m.

    Got to think:
    15+3 = 138 minutes (Who can Play 138.???)
    **Jedi, Ream, CCV, Adams, ... 

    6th Sub if you go to OT
    Who are your PK Takers.???;
    CP, Aaronson, Acosta, Ream, Adams

  11. Santiago 1314 replied, December 3, 2022 at 8:45 a.m.

    Starting Lineup:

              Haji.  Weah

    Musah.  LDLT.   McKenNIE
    Jedi.                              Dest
              Ream.  CCV
    LDLT to play Man-To-Man on Frankie

  12. Santiago 1314 replied, December 3, 2022 at 8:48 a.m.

    Finish the 90 with;


    Musah.                  Acosta
    Jedi.                      Scally
              Ream CCV

  13. Santiago 1314 replied, December 3, 2022 at 8:51 a.m.

    You can Sub Out Musah in the OT;
    Either Zimmerman or Morris Come IN,  depending on the Score
    You also get 1 Extra Sub for "Concussion"

  14. humble 1, December 3, 2022 at 9:19 a.m.

    USA as a unit has a lot to prove, individually as well, yes, it's true that there is a pure approach to soccer, but also, there is also a raw soccer style.  Here I think, raw meets pure, and for me, maybe the Dutch pure soccer is not so well formed in this momemnt.  I have not watched them play, but have heard, they were lucky, not sharp in group play, esp. against Senegal, where they took the three points.  The US has a lot of PHD's, Poor-Hungry-Driven participants, including our coach, who I might add, played in Holland during his career, so will know well their culturea, style and tendencies.  Should be a good game, pure vs poor soccer tradition vs new world raw soccer.  I pick our PHDs!  Go USA! 

  15. Santiago 1314, December 3, 2022 at 9:23 a.m.

    Ggg went with;

         CP.         Weah
    Musah.          McKenNIE
    Jedi.                      Dest
              Ream Zimm

    I think that CP must be Hurt, No PK Taking for him
    Not going to Finish the Game, Start Him and see how long Hecan go.(I'm OK with That)
    Jesus to Pester Frankie, instead of LDLT( I'm OK with that)
    Sargent Out ???
    Zimm or CCV... Meh.!?!?!? 

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