FIFA Men's World Cup
'More to come': U.S. projecting confidence heading into Netherlands match
FIFA Men's World Cup

'More to come': U.S. projecting confidence heading into Netherlands match

Updated Dec. 1, 2022 4:38 p.m. ET

AL RAYYAN, Qatar — They believe they can win.  

Two days before the United States plays the Netherlands on Saturday (10 a.m. ET, FOX and the FOX Sports app) in a colossal round of 16 contest at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, U.S. stars Christian Pulisic and Tim Weah told reporters during a Thursday news conference that they’re confident about getting past the powerful Dutch.

USMNT feeling good

Christian Pulisic and Tim Weah talk about the matchup with the Netherlands in the Round of 16 on Saturday.

Eliminating the three-time World Cup runner-up at Khalifa International Stadium in the Qatari capital of Doha won’t be easy. The Oranje are considered the strongest soccer nation never to lift the trophy. They’re FIFA’s No. 8-ranked team (the Americans are 16th) and finished first in Group A with wins over Senegal and the host nation.


They’re still a better matchup for Gregg Berhalter’s team than the three other sides — Argentina, England and defending champion France — that had booked their place in the knockout stage as of Wednesday. The Netherlands are also a better matchup for the U.S. than Brazil, Spain, Germany and probably Portugal – teams that, according to FOXBet, all have better odds to win the tournament.

"We all know the Netherlands is a big team, a lot of quality players," Weah said. "We just have to go out and apply ourselves and do what we have to do to get the job done."

[Related: USA's Tim Weah talks World Cup goal, beating Iran: 'Moment of my life']

Pulsic and Weah were careful to choose their words wisely, to not give their esteemed opponent any bulletin-board material in the lead-up to Saturday’s contest. But then Berhalter, Pulisic and the rest of the roster haven’t exactly been shy about saying that their goal is nothing less than to win this World Cup

Whether they’re good enough to claim the trophy is debatable at best. Beating the Netherlands in a one-off match? That’s a more realistic aim.

Pulisic provides an update on his status

Christian Pulisic talks with Jenny Taft about his injury in the game against Iran and his status for Saturday's game.

Louis van Gaal’s squad is deep and talented, no doubt. It is anchored by arguably the best central defender in the global game in captain Virgil van Dijk. But Van Gaal doesn’t have the same sort of truly elite, game-breaking difference-makers at his disposal that he did back in 2014, when battle-tested attackers Arjen Robben and Robin van Persie led the Dutch to within a penalty kick shootout loss (to Lionel Messi’s Albiceleste) of the final. They eventually finished third.

[Related: Scouting USMNT's next World Cup foe: Are Dutch vulnerable?]

The Netherlands is also famous for punching below its weight. The team didn’t qualify for the 2018 World Cup, either. It didn’t make it to the 2016 European Championship. And it hasn’t been great in Qatar despite topping the group. 

It took the Dutch 86 minutes to score on Senegal in their opener. They were lucky to get even a point against Ecuador, which outshot them 15-2.  

Meantime, Berhalter’s side already has outplayed one European heavyweight at this World Cup; they probably should’ve beaten England last week. 

The U.S. can still take plenty of solace from the fact that they kept the team with the most goals so far — the Three Lions have nine, one more than Spain — off the scoresheet for 90-plus minutes.  

And now that the second-youngest team in the tournament has survived the group stage, the pressure on them is mostly off. 

A smiling Pulisic, a safe bet to overcome the pelvic injury he suffered in scoring the Americans game-winning goal against Iran even if U.S. Soccer is listing his status as day-to-day, looked more relaxed than he ever has in front of the media Thursday as he laughed and joked with reporters. But he also made it clear that he’s determined to take this U.S. team even further.  

"I, by no means, want that to be the only thing I look back on this tournament," Pulisic said of his goal, one that captured the country’s imagination and instantly transformed the 24-year-old longtime U.S. headliner into a bona fide mainstream star back home. "There’s a lot ahead of this team."

Can Josh Sargent, Yunus Musah be sparks?

Which is to say that U.S. fans can and should have hope — real hope — that their side can pull off the upset and advance to the World Cup quarterfinals for the first time in 20 years.  

The American players certainly believe it. 

"I’m really happy with the team spirit, what this team has shown, the way we’ve fought through all the challenges that we’ve seen," Pulisic said. "It feels great to be where we’re at right now, but there’s still more to come."

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Doug McIntyre is a soccer writer for FOX Sports. Before joining FOX Sports in 2021, he was a staff writer with ESPN and Yahoo Sports and he has covered United States men’s and women’s national teams at multiple FIFA World Cups. Follow him on Twitter @ByDougMcIntyre.


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