Team USA dropped a friendly today in Amsterdam to the Dutch national team 2-1. As a fan of the American team I wouldn't be too upset with the result, but I also wouldn't be ecstatic about the results.
During the first 60 minutes of the match, the American attack lacked any kind of sustained buildup. Often times the ball was kicked up to the front without any support available from the midfield. Landon Donovan looked particularly disinterested and outside of Michael Beasley the starting midfield's performance was nondescript.
Defensively while the U.S. didn't give up too many chances throughout the game they allowed way too much freedom to the Dutch midfield led by Wesley Sneijder. Jonathan Bornstein's foul on Sneijder in the box at the end of the first half gave the Dutch a penalty kick which Dirk Kuyt converted with ease. It's easy to blame Bornstein, but when you allow a team of the Netherlands' quality to hold on to the ball for extended periods of time eventually your defenders are going to make mistakes and you will be punished.
In the initial phases of the second half it looked as if the U.S. would continue with their listless effort, but around the 60 minute mark they came to life, particularly when DaMarcus Beasley led the counterattack along his favored left wing. His pace, ability to possess and control the ball and crossing gave the U.S. a much needed jolt as they started to put some pressure on the Dutch defense.
Unfortunately Dutch striker Klaas Jan Huntelaar's shot took a deflection off of Bornstein and went past goalkeeper Tim Howard who was left helpless as the ball looped around him to give the Dutch a two goal advantage in the 73rd minute. It was at this point that team USA started putting real pressure on the Dutch defense creating a number of set piece chances until one was finally converted by starting center back Carlos Bocanegra in the 89th minute.
Jozy Altidore created a chance and came close to drawing the match in extra time after he split two defenders and took a shot from a little over 20 yards out from goal, but the shot was stopped by Maarten Stekelenburg. It was nice to see an American player have a shot from distance, something that they don't do nearly enough.
All in all it was a good effort on a big stage in Europe, but in the end the U.S. simply lacked the ability to make the most out of their opportunities in the final third of the field and were dominated in the midfield for large parts of the match. They can take positives out of this match, like their ability to fight back in the end and give themselves a chance to draw the match, but falling behind and allowing opposing teams to dominate position is a dangerous game team USA continues to play when facing the world's best particularly on European soil.
At this point team USA's best case World Cup scenario would see them advance out of the first round and then be eliminated in the first knockout round. It's imperative that the team becomes more confident in it's ability to control the ball in the midfield and finish their chances when they present themselves. 99 days remain until the World Cup kicks off in South Africa and team USA is far from a finished product.