The United States was eliminated from the World Cup, losing to the Netherlands 3-1

The United States was eliminated from the World Cup, losing to the Netherlands 3-1

Christian Pulisic covered his face as he left. Tyler Adams, Weston McKinney, and Clean Acosta gathered for a group hug. Tim Weh, DeAndre Yedlin, and Shawn Johnson sat in a small circle with their cleats open on the field.

"It pains us after such a tough loss when we feel we could have had more," Pulisic said, managing a voice just above a whisper. "We don't want to feel like that again."

The United States' return to the World Cup ended with a 3-1 loss to the Netherlands on Saturday in the round of 16. While the Orange extended their unbeaten streak to 19 matches and advanced to the quarterfinals with Argentina, the Americans thought in the long run. They came and how they fell.

Defensive lapses gave the Dutch a treat, with Memphis Depay scoring in the 10th minute and Daley Blind scoring in first-half stoppage time.

Hope was renewed for the United States when Pulisic's cross hit the late foot of second-half substitute Haji Wright and blasted over goalkeeper Andres Nobert and into the net in the 76th minute. But Denzel Dumfries, named after actor Denzel Washington, scored with a volley in the 81st minute after assisting In achieving the first two goals.

"The American public should be hopeful," said Greg Berhalter, the first person to play for and coach the U.S. national team in a World Cup. "When you look at how we wanted to play, and we played, it has to be positive."

The United States has yet to reach the quarterfinals since 2002 and was eliminated in the first knockout round, just like in 2010 and 2014.

After the American failed to qualify for the 2018 tournament, Yedlin was the only one left on the list who was the second-youngest player in the tournament, averaging just over 25.

"They now know that the feeling of what you can lose after putting so much into it, the feeling of defeat from the past, can only lead to success in the future," said the 29-year-old defender.

The United States has not won 12 matches against European opponents at the World Cup since 2002 and has won once and lost seven in knockout rounds since the tournament's inception in 1930.

"This tournament has brought back a lot of confidence and respect for American football and soccer in our country," said McKinney. "I think we've shown that we can be giants eventually. We may not be there yet, but we're definitely on our way."

Before a crowd of 44,846 at the renovated Khalifa International Stadium, Pulisic had a chance to put the United States ahead in the third minute. McKinney threw a poor shot into the box, but Nobert blocked his shot from the starting point with his left thigh.

"I thought I was offside when it happened, but I still hit the ball and made good saves," said Pulisic.

The Dutch took the lead when Cody Gakbo played the ball to Dumfries on the right flank. Depay sprinted into the penalty area, where Adams failed to track him down, and Dumfries crossed once Depay redirected it into Matt Turner's far post for the first goal against the USA during tournament play.

Blind scored in the first minute of injury time. After a throw-in, Dumfries got Adams' cross round, and Blind beat Sergio Dest's late ball into the penalty spot for his first international goal in eight years.

Wright came on in the 67th minute and scored his second international goal with an extraordinary touch from three yards, raising the hopes of the United States. But Dumfries was left unmarked by Tim Ream and Anthony Robinson and headed in a Blind cross from six yards for his sixth goal.

"When you play a team with a quality like that, and you give them three or four chances, they will put up three or four chances," said Adams. "We can show that we can stay with some of the best teams in the world, some of the best players in the world, and that's huge progress for American football."

The players didn't want to leave the field; they just wanted more time together.

"Just putting perspective and thinking about the trip," Yedlin said. "Thank the Earth. After every practice and game, we try to do something called grounding. It just helps put the future into perspective, good or bad."

Others absorbed the defeat without words.

"Just looking around that locker room, the silence is deafening," Turner said. "We all want to create moments for people at home to fall in love with the game, and tonight wasn't one of those nights, unfortunately."

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