US coach Berhalter to draw on Dutch lessons at World Cup
Gregg Berhalter knows plenty about Dutch soccer - he turned pro in the Netherlands 28 years ago.
He will look to draw on the lessons he learned there when he coaches the United States against Oranje on Saturday for a place in the quarterfinals of the World Cup in Qatar.
The Americans have not reached the quarterfinals since 2002. The U.S. was knocked out in the round of 16 in extra-time losses to Ghana in 2010 and Belgium in 2014, then failed to qualify for the 2018 tournament.
“We deserve to be in the position we’re in and we want to keep going,” Berhalter said. “So for us, it’s about how we recover from this game and prepare to play against a very good Dutch team, very well coached, ton of quality all over the field, and we have to come up with an idea of how to beat them.”
The United States has played the Netherlands five times previously, all in friendlies, losing at home in 1998 and at Amsterdam in 2004 and 2010. The U.S. rallied for a 4-3 win at Amsterdam Arena in 2015 when Danny Williams equalized in the 88th minute and Bobby Wood scored 96 seconds later.
Berhalter isn't the only person in the U.S. camp with Dutch experience. Right back Sergiño Dest grew up in the Netherlands. A son of a Dutch mother and American father, who rose to prominence with Ajax, he opted to play for the U.S.
“It’s going to be a pretty fun one, playing against the country I was born in," he said. “I know almost every single guy over there.”
The U.S. opened its campaign in Qatar with draws against Wales and England, then beat Iran 1-0 on a goal by Christian Pulisic, who bruised his pelvis crashing into the goalkeeper. He hopes to play Saturday.
A losing finalist in 1974, 1978 and 2010, the Dutch also failed to reach the 2018 World Cup in Russia. The Netherlands opened this tournament with a 2-0 win over Senegal, tied Ecuador 1-1 and beat host Qatar 2-0 to top Group A.
Louis van Gaal, at 71 the oldest coach at the tournament, is back for his third stint leading Oranje. He guided them to a third-place finish in 2014.
“If you say, well, the final 16 is enough or the quarterfinals is enough, that isn't the right way to do things,” he said through a translator. “The right way to do things is to think that you'll become champion, world champion.”
The Netherlands is on an 18-game unbeaten streak since losing to the Czech Republic in the round of 16 at last year's European Championship.
"We have an excellent squad and we have demonstrated that on more than enough occasions," midfielder Frenkie de Jong said through a translator.
By RONALD BLUM