AL THUMAMA, Qatar — Tyler Adams said the United States would relish its World Cup last-16 clash against the Netherlands after a 1-0 win over Iran secured the Americans’ place in the knockout stage in Qatar.
Christian Pulisic‘s first-half goal was enough to give the US victory in a tense win-or-go-home clash with Iran on Tuesday.
The result meant the US finished second in Group B, setting up a clash with Group A winners the Netherlands for the chance to reach the quarterfinals for just the second time in the tournament’s modern era.
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“Huge opportunity for us. It’s gonna be an amazing game,” US captain Tyler Adams said.
“I think we’ve obviously played against good competition here. Like England, the Netherlands could be another favorite to win the World Cup. They’ve done really well, how they navigated through their group phase of the tournament so far.”
Both teams failed to qualify for the tournament in Russia four years ago, prior to which the Netherlands finished runners-up (2010) and in third place (2014). The US reached the Round of 16 in 2010 and 2014 — losing to Ghana and Belgium — and last advanced to the quarterfinals in 2002, when it beat Mexico, 2-0, to get there.
“[The Netherlands has] some amazing players,” Adams said. “We’re gonna have to be ready for that game, but I think right now we enjoy this moment, have some downtime to relax and recover now mentally focus. The coaches will come up with a game plan. It’s time for us to execute.”
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England (7 points) qualified first out of Group B with a 3-0 win against Wales. The United States finished second (5), with Iran third (3) and Wales fourth (1). England will play Senegal on the opposite side of the bracket.
“In this competition, this year especially, it’s not easy to win any game,” US center-back Tim Ream said. “We have to really be proud of ourselves to have been able to achieve this. We’ve gotta enjoy the moment and then obviously there’s such a big turnaround, so we have think about that.”
Immediate concern for the US will be about the health of Pulisic. The star Chelsea winger suffered an abdominal injury on his game-winning goal and left for the hospital for scans, according to a US Soccer spokesperson.
Midfielder Weston McKennie later revealed that Pulisic had texted him to say he would be fit to face the Netherlands.
“I sent him a text and checked on him, and he said, `Best believe I’ll be ready on Saturday,'” McKennie said.
Either way, the US will have their hands full against a talented Dutch side, though there is reason for optimism. Despite winning the group, the Netherlands struggled offensively against both Uruguay and Senegal before cruising past host Qatar on Matchday 3.
“I always say it’s us against the world,” US winger Tim Weah said. “No one believed the U.S. could play good football.”
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.
USA sees Netherlands World Cup clash as ‘huge opportunity’