Has US Soccer entered Elite Status with Win over Netherlands?

2015-usa-netherlandsEver since Jurgen Klinsmann took over as coach of the US Men’s National Team, American soccer has been on an upward trajectory. Even still, nobody expected this team to walk out of Amsterdam Arena with a 4-3 friendly victory. This is especially the case for anybody who was watching the game when the Oranje went up 3-1 in the second half.

However, the Americans battled back in this friendly, even when down 3-2 with just two minutes left in regulation. A quick Danny Williams’ equalizer and Bobby Wood game-winner gave USA a stunning win over the Dutch. That said, it’s worth asking if the Americans have finally entered soccer’s elite, or if they’re still a fringe team who benefited from good fortune in this match.

USA beat a Very Good Team – And Under Tough Circumstances

2015-usa-netherlands-1Let’s give the USMNT some major credit here: they beat the team that finished third in the 2014 World Cup. This is no small feat for a squad that wasn’t expected to make it out of the “Group of Death,” but did, only to lose 2-1 to Belgium in a game where they were overmatched. What’s more is that USA was playing on the road against what is still one of the best football teams in the world.

Another point worth mentioning here is that the Yanks were playing without the injured Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey, who was home to witness the birth of his fourth child. Finally, Klinsmann used this match as another one of his experiments, making seven defensive substitutions and giving the Dutch a great opportunity to run through his back line.

This may not be the Same Dutch Team

While the Oranje may still be very good on the international level, they’ve had their problems since the third-place 2014 Cup effort. First off, manager Guus Hiddink, who took over for Louis van Gaal, changed the defense from a 5-3-2 system to a 4-3-3. The results up until this point have been disastrous, which was proven in this match as USA took advantage of many Dutch defensive errors.

Another point worth making here is that it’s not like the Netherlands had their entire ‘A team’ out on the field either. Hiddink rested some of his top players as the team prepares for a Euro 2016 qualifier against Latvia.

Netherlands Largely outplayed the US

2015-usa-netherlands-2Regardless of the final score, and the Americans’ never-quit attitude, the Dutch still looked like the dominant team here. They maintained possession 61 percent of the time and remained on the attack, forcing the US to mainly rely on counterstrike opportunities.

In any case, it was the USMNT walking away with the victory here after an incredible comeback. And while they didn’t look to be quite on the same level as Netherlands, they are still a young team that’s improving. Furthermore, if they continue at this same pace, with Klinsmann at the helm, then they’ll be an even bigger threat at the 2018 World Cup.

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