Soccer

USA vs. Netherlands World Cup scouting report: How USMNT can beat Louis van Gaal Cody Gakpo, Virgil van Dijk

The United States men’s national team is set to play their fourth game at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar on Saturday when they battle the Netherlands in the round of 16 at 10 a.m. ET. The winner of this round of 16 battle moves on to the quarterfinals, a spot the U.S. men have not been to since 2002. On Saturday, they battle a country that, just like them, failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup. 

There is a lot on the line for the Americans here after escaping Group B with a clutch win over Iran on Matchday 3, and the winner of this match moves on to face Argentina or Australia in the quarterfinals. Full bracket breakdown here.

The Netherlands have long been a powerhouse in world soccer and are widely considered the best national team to have never won a World Cup, losing in the final three times. But this iteration is far from the ones we’ve seen in the past, yet it boasts the potential for another deep World Cup run.

Here’s what to know with our scouting report — and while you’re at it, sign up for our new newsletter covering the beautiful game in all its glory, including daily updates about the World Cup, here.

Netherlands 26-man World Cup squad

  • Goalkeepers: Justin Bijlow (Feyenoord), Remko Pasveer (Ajax), Andries Noppert (Heerenveen).
  • Defenders: Nathan Ake (Manchester City), Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool), Matthijs de Ligt (Bayern Munich), Jurrien Timber (Ajax), Stefan de Vrij (Inter Milan), Daley Blind (Ajax), Denzel Dumfries (Inter Milan), Tyrell Malacia (Manchester United), Jeremie Frimpong (Bayer Leverkusen).
  • Midfielders: Steven Berghuis (Ajax), Frenkie de Jong (Barcelona), Teun Koopmeiners (Atalanta), Davy Klaassen (Ajax), Marten de Roon (Atalanta), Xavi Simons (PSV), Kenneth Taylor (Ajax).
  • Forwards: Steven Bergwijn (Ajax), Memphis Depay (Barcelona), Cody Gakpo (PSV), Vincent Janssen (Royal Antwerp), Luuk de Jong (PSV), Wout Weghorst (Besiktas), Noa Lang (Club Brugge).

Listen below and follow In Soccer We Trust: A CBS Sports Soccer Podcast where your three favorite former USMNT players cover everything you could possibly want to know about the United States men’s national team during the World Cup in Qatar.

Formation and style

The Dutch use a 3-4-1-2 that can easily convert to four on the back with wingback Daley Blind staying back while the other, Denzel Dumfries, getting up the field. They like to find diagonal runs in attack and use their velocity and have Frenkie de Jong in the middle to the distributor. There are strongest at the center back position and the weakest in attack, though they do have five goals in the tournament. When it comes to creating, they aren’t about quantity of chances, rather quality. 

Who is their coach?

The legendary Dutchman Louis van Gaal. The 71-year-old former Ajax, Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Manchester United is in his third stint as the manager of the Oranje. A Champions League winner as the coach of Ajax, he’s won a trophy at every club he’s managed. He was also the boss in 2014 when they finished in third place at the World Cup in Brazil, losing to Argentina in the semifinals before beating Brazil in the third-place match.

Who is their best player?


Virgil van Dijk

NED • D • #4

2022 World Cup

Games3

Clearances13

Blocked shots3

Tackles1

Virgil van Dijk, the towering Liverpool center back has been widely considered the best player at his position for the last few years. He did tear his ACL in October of 2020 and was out for nine months, and he hasn’t been at his best very, just like his club, but even a 90% van Dijk is better than most other center backs at the World Cup. He is as good as they come technically, he can dominate games in the air and has the ability to hurt you in attack on set pieces. If you want to teach how to defend one-on-one, he’s the guy to watch, and it may be a long day for whoever plays forward for the red, white and blue. And while he sometimes seems to lack, pace, the defender has a magical ability to be all over the field in the nick of time. Here you can see his defensive area covered map. It’s just, like, the entire back line.


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Who is another player to worry about?

headshot-image


Cody Gakpo

NED • F • #8

2022 World Cup

Goals3

Games played3

Minutes251

Goals per 901.08

It’s Cody Gakpo. The 23-year-old sensation is lighting up the tournament, having entered Thursday level atop the scoring chart with Kylian Mbappe of France, Marcus Rashford of England and Enner Valencia of Ecuador. 

He’s got serious size at 6-foot-4 and can play on the wing, center forward or even dip a bit into the midfield as an attacking mid. 

Our James Benge took a close look at Gapko and explained how the U.S. can stop him. It will have to be a concerted effort from this backline to stop a guy widely considered one of the top young starts in the game.

What they do well

First off, they are just efficient. Defensively as it stands, they are one of two teams to have finished the group stage while having conceded only one goal. The other? The United States. That comes despite being clearly outplayed by both Senegal and Ecuador, yet they managed to beat the Africans and draw the South Americans.

The Dutch have speed but don’t really utilize it all that much, taking a more balanced and patient approach to attacking. They have had 57% of the possession so far, and as we saw against an athletic defense in Ecuador, they can struggle. The Ecuadorians had 15 shots in that 1-1 draw in the group stage while the Dutch had just two shots. 

What has carried the Netherlands is just incredible efficiency in attack with five goals scored in eight shots on frame


Twenty3

What they don’t do well

There are times where the attack is just too predictable and void of ideas, but they still manage to score. They have a lot of individual talent that hasn’t quite gelled, but they are at least getting results. One thing that they don’t do particularly well is go at defenders one-on-one. They have attempted just 22 take-ons at the cup and completed 12, which is 26th overall out of all of the teams.

To watch, they aren’t a team that will probably catch your eyes as they play it around the back a lot, try and get the other team to commit and then cause danger. But they have gone 18 matches unbeaten, so it’s working. In seven of their last nine games, they’ve managed to score at least two goals. 

The midfield can struggle with pressure though, and the expectation is for the U.S. to press and not let them settle in and dictate the pace that they want.

How to watch and odds

  • Date: Saturday, Dec. 3 | Time: 10 a.m. ET
  • Location: Khalifa International Stadium — Al Rayyan, Qatar
  • TV: Fox | Live stream: fuboTV (Try for free)
  • Odds: Netherlands -104; Draw +230; United States +310 (via Caesars Sportsbook)

Featured Game | Netherlands vs. United States



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