I can’t help but leave with the impression that, even given the stakes involved, there was an air of the routine about this game as compared to the United States’ previous World Cup matches. For the opener against Wales, everything was still fresh and new, not just for the U.S. team but for the World Cup as a whole as it took place on the first day with multiple games. It was exciting, the crowd was boisterous and loud, and the performance was up to snuff in a 1-1 draw.
The match against England on Black Friday felt like a huge occasion for all the very obvious reasons. The U.S. performance matched that hype, even if the scoreline didn’t. And the pressure-filled finale against Iran will be forever remembered for the loud, pro-Iran crowd and those intense nine minutes and 53 seconds that closed out the game, which resulted in the United States’ advancement out of the group.
By that standard, this contest felt like almost nothing at all, and certainly not a do-or-die match in the knockout round of the World Cup. Maybe it was the cavernous, atmosphere-sapping character of the Khalifa Stadium, or the relatively low amount of traveling support from Netherlands and U.S. fans, or maybe it was just the Netherlands’ professional, efficient performance and the Americans’ lack of bite. Maybe all of that.
But in the end, the United States’ World Cup ends with a big ol’ ‘meh’.
(Photo: Getty Images)
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