After 8 years, one missed World Cup, and a boat load of criticism, the United States has advanced to the round of 16. Their tumultuous group stage ended with a huge 1-0 win over Iran, but don’t let that score line paint the final picture of how the United States performed in the beginning stages of the tournament. 

After a disappointing draw with Wales in their first group stage match, the US bounced back to one of their most outstanding performances in the past few years against England. Although the US and England would finish the match in a draw, it definitely proved that the stars and stripes could hang with a tournament favorite. Pretty much dominating the second half of the match up, the United States could not put one in the back of the net, begging the question, “Who is our goal scoring #9?” We have yet to see Gio Reyna make a real impact on the pitch and we aren’t quite sure if this is a part of Berhalter’s master plan or if it’s a total mistake. 

While the US looked much better attacking in their match up with the three lions, the lack of goals in the net appears to be one of their biggest glowing issues. Moving into their decisive match up with Iran, the US appeared to be the stronger squad from the jump. Quickly setting up chances in the final third led us back to their finishing woes with a multitude of crosses making it all the way through the box. It was not until late in the first half when a perfectly timed tap in from Pulisic saw the United States take the lead. However, Pulisic’s game winning goal saw the crafty kid from Hershey, PA suffer an injury that would have him subbed off going into the second half. 

The second half proved to be a little more interesting for the United States with Aaronson subbing on for the injured Pulisic. Even more shocking was the subbing choices Berhalter made in the latter part of the half. Putting on a risky Walker Zimmerman and Shaq Moore, saw the United States transition to five in the back with what would turn out to be 20 min left in the match with extra time. This defensive shift in the late moments of the match had US fans on the edge of their seats until the blow of the final whistle. 

What’s Next?

The United States is looking to make their mark on the tournament in the Round of 16 against the Netherlands. While the USA had a rocky road to this point of the tournament, now is the time to solidify who their goal scorer is going to be. 

We have yet to see Jesus Ferreira even step foot on a field this tournament, making us wonder if this is going to be his debut moment. The Colombian-American received a ton of hype before the United States kicked off in Qatar, but could the big MLS match gap made Ferreira out of form? 

Not only are the United States facing an incredibly tough opponent, but their inability to finish during the tournament is going to be a major problem, especially with Virgil Van Dijk as the anchor of the Dutch defense. Traditionally the dutch have been a major player in the tournament, except for the past 8 years, but this tournament has quickly proven they’re back and more fiery than ever. With young Cody Gakpo on the verge of grabbing the tournament’s golden boot, the United States will have to lock down their defense. 

Want to gear up for the United States’ first and hopefully not last match of the knockout round? Head to SoccerPro and gear up before it’s too late!