Denzel Dumfries, who assisted Depay on the goal, supplied an almost identical pass for the Netherlands’ second goal just before halftime. Once again the American defense was caught flat-footed as Dumfries zipped the ball toward the front of the goal from the right wing. This time it was Daley Blind, the Dutch wingback, who slipped free from a defender to meet the pass and score.
The United States’ only goal came in the 76th minute and seemed to defy the laws of physics. Christian Pulisic drilled a cross into the box, and Haji Wright could only graze it by reaching back with the outside of his right foot, which was facing away from the goal. The ball jumped off Wright’s foot, looped parabolically into the air and curled somehow inside the left post.
Wright had given the Americans a lifeline at 2-1, but Dumfries pulled it away five minutes later when he finished from close range after he was left unmarked, again, by the U.S. defense.
“In the past three games, I’d say we defended really, really well,” midfielder Tyler Adams said. “And today, the three goals come from moments where we were probably sleeping a little bit.”
In the general American consciousness, which seems to become attuned to the doings of its national soccer squad only once every four years, the team may now enter a period of suspended animation. Other games and competitions will return once again to the foreground of the country’s sports landscape.
But behind the scenes the gears will keep turning. Berhalter is nearing the end of a four-year contract, and a decision will soon have to be made, by the coach and team, about whether he should stay on for another four-year term to nurture and shape the squad before the 2026 World Cup.
“In the next couple weeks, I’ll clear my head, sit down and think about what’s next,” Berhalter said.