USA is Out, Morocco Advances, and France is looking for a repeat

The United States will have to wait four years for two things: home-field advantage and revenge. Saturday morning, defender Denzel Dumfries scored to give the Netherlands a 3-1 advantage in the 81st minute and washed away any hopes of a USA comeback.
Off a beautiful cross from defender Daley Blind who was to the right of the goalposts, Dumfries shot a laser past USA goalkeeper Matt Turner who didn’t have a chance to make a save. The USA looked dejected and desperate in the closing minutes of the game before getting eliminated from the World Cup.
USA’s only goal came in the 75th minute when Haji Wright scored off a fluky back leg kick that arched over the goalkeeper and into the goal. This reignited fans for a flurry of moments before Holland scored the dagger.
The game might’ve been 3-1, but when Americans examine the stat line they’ll wonder where did things go wrong. The United States outshot (17-11), out-passed (569-411), and out-played (59-41 possession) Holland.
Having watched the game, the answer lied in a lack of urgency. The Americans had a few opportunities to advance the ball or score but instead played keep-away with Holland down 2-0. This could’ve been due to developing chemistry, or because Holland is one of the best teams in the world and plays as they mean it. Either way, the USA needs to reflect on its run in Qatar. Starting with their coach, Greg Berhalter.
“Proud of this group, but bitterly disappointed in the result today.” Berhalter said, “I think we made some progress. When people look at our team they see a clear identity. They see guys that go out and fight for each other.”
The Americans finished 1-2-0 in the group stage and scored three goals in the tournament. This squad was the second-youngest in the competition, and after watching them they didn’t seem prepared for the global spotlight.
Of course, the fountain of youth found a way to win against Iran to advance to the knockouts.
In a battle of youth against experience, 24-year-old forward Christian Pulisic landed the dagger in the 38th minute for the USA. The USA outshot Iran 12-4 and recorded five shots on target compared to one by Iran. Despite the even possession time, on key stat was five corners to one. Iran had headers in the 10th and 27th minutes but couldn’t capitalize.
Otherwise, the squad drew with Wales 1-1 and England 0-0, where the second game was a highly anticipated one but it seemed neither team could find the upper hand.
Overall, the USA was 1-2-1 in the 2022 World Cup. Three players scored for the team, forward Timothy Weah against Wales, captain Christian Pulisic in their game with England, and forward Haji Wright in the knockouts.
This team does have promise, but the further one goes in the World Cup the higher the stakes and the bigger the opponent. Wales and Iran failed to advance out of the group stage, and England now faces France, the defending champions. The Netherlands is hungry to get to the finals having never gotten there, and the USA proved to be a stepping stone. Now, Holland goes toe to toe with Argentina, where Messi looks to seek the coveted prize he’s never captured.
The USA did show up with heart and advanced to the knockouts for the first time since 2014. However, the young and hungry squad looks to 2026 when they host the World Cup alongside Canada and Mexico. Before we get there, however, let’s look at how the rest of the tournament panned out.
Looking at the World Cup picture, a few teams also showed promise but fell short.
Japan took Croatia to penalties in a 1-1 draw but lost 3-1 in penalties. Croatia is 3-0 in their last three penalties now (sportstar.com), and goes on to face Brazil in the second quarterfinals matchup. Brazil remained the juggernaut defeating South Korea 4-1, where they had 18 shots to 8. South Korea and Japan represented Asia as best they could on the global stage, and perhaps South Korea was dealt a bad hand by Brazil.
The biggest surprise of the knockouts was Morocco taking down Spain, and denying them any goal in a 0-0 draw which led to penalties. The 31-year-old goalkeeper from Morocco was oozing confidence against Spain. Spain had 13 shots in the game, including three in penalties which weren’t to be. Morocco’s next challenge is against Portugal, where Ronaldo, like Messi, doesn’t have a trophy under his name.
While some teams like Morocco jump for joy as they advance to the quarterfinals, others are focused and determined to get to the finals. It seems like Morocco is one minnow among sharks who are ready to clobber them. From Portugal to England, to Brazil, Morocco’s path to the finish line is tough.
Which begs the question. Whose path is the easiest? I’d go with France who could repeat this year. They face England who had an easy first round with Senegal. France has only lost to Tunisia in a game with no stakes, and now the three teams on their way to the finals are England, Portugal, and Morocco. The viewers at home would love to see Mbappe against Ronaldo for an early Christmas present. Whether or not the soccer gods grant us that, this weekend looks full of action.
Tune in Friday at 9 AM for the Netherlands against Argentina followed by Croatia taking on Brazil. Is the world ready to handle the enthusiasm in Qatar, because the game is about to begin? This time, with the worlds best.

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