Soccer

USA vs. Netherlands: Louis van Gaal acknowledges ‘flu symptoms’ hampering players in Dutch World Cup camp

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Louis van Gaal refused to give away numbers but acknowledged that there are several players in his squad suffering with “flu symptoms” ahead of the Netherlands round of 16 tie with the USA at the World Cup.

The Dutch skipped a training session on Friday and skipped their usual 11 vs. 11 training session drills, something the manager would not confirm was related to the illness bout. Van Gaal expects every member of his squad to be available “in principle” for Saturday’s clash with the USMNT at the Khalifa International Stadium but his reticence to address questions over the matter in specifics suggests there is at least some degree of doubt over the makeup of the group.

“If it goes around in the group, it is worrying,” Van Gaal told NOS, adding that “there are not fifteen or so. In principle, everyone is fit and available.” The 71 year old, who guided the Dutch to the semi finals of the 2014 World Cup, indicated that the change to the training session had been at the request of his squad. “I gave them a day of rest. With this group, they communicate that to me. I listen to my players.”

Netherlands would not be the first team at this World Cup to have illness issues, Brazil also suffered issues which winger Antony credited to the air conditioning in Qatar’s stadia. So far there are not the same selection issues with the USA squad; indeed Gregg Berhalter offered an optimistic assessment of Christian Pulisic’s potential availability for the game, which comes just four days after he put his body on the line to score the winner that took his side past Iran and into the last 16.

“We’re gonna see him on the training field today,” said Berhalter. “What I think is it looks pretty good, but we’ll have to see him on the pitch to get confirmation of that.” Starting striker Josh Sargent is, however, a doubt due to an ankle issue.



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