Three essentials for an American triumph versus the Netherlands

Three essentials for an American triumph versus the Netherlands

Saturday morning’s World Cup Round of 16 match between the U.S. and the Netherlands in Qatar hinges on three factors.

Not awful at all

The United States’ World Cup performance has been characterized by exciting first halves and less inspirational second halves, conceding an equalizer after halftime to Wales and finishing with a white-knuckled grip against Iran (on the plus side, they have not trailed for a single minute). To defeat the Dutch, the U.S. will need to be equally dangerous after halftime, regardless of how coach Gregg Berhalter handles substitutions (not waiting too long to implement them) and tactical adjustments.

This is easier said than done, but you shouldn’t allow No. 8 in orange defeat you. Cody Gakpo has scored a goal of world-class caliber in each of the Netherlands’ previous matches. The defensive midfielder Tyler Adams and the U.S. central defenders will have to constantly mark him.

Game, “Set,” and Point

The United States national team has not scored or even gone close to scoring on a set piece, which has historically been a strength of the squad. Instead, they scored two beautiful goals against the run of play. Virgil van Dijk is a tower in the Dutch defense.

Can the United States score one of those classic corner kick goals?

Saturday’s additional Round of 16 contest

Argentina vs. Australia: 2 p.m., Fox

After a disappointing group stage, Argentina’s encounter against Australia in the round of 16 should be doable. Australia will be a significant favorite in this match as it plays its first knockout game at the World Cup since 2006, when it defeated Denmark on the last day of group play.

Nonetheless, Australia previously achieved an upset in that game, and it is possible that it may do it again here. After three difficult games, Lionel Messi is fighting for his legacy, and Argentina has a chance to right the ship. Could they?

— Étienne Sears

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