TCM Analysis: Netherlands vs USA 

The USA's World Cup journey came to an end against the Netherland and their marauding wingbacks.

Dec 7th 2022

Written by The Coaching Manual


Netherlands - 1-3-4-1-2

USA - 1-4-3-3


First Half Review

The Netherlands entered the match after winning their group with 2 wins and 1 draw, whike USA entered the match after finishing second in their group after 1 win and 2 draws.

USA started the game on the front foot, pressing from the front, which created some opportunities for them. However, The Netherlands dealt with the pressure well by playing through the press - with their midfield rotating well with the forward players.

Gakpo (#8) and Depay (#10) would take in turns to drop into midfield with the midfield 3 to give the Netherlands an overload in midfield. This would also give those players the opportunity to rotate freely which made it difficult for the USA to intercept the passes. 


The image above shows how the Netherland's first goal was scored. Depay (#10) dropped in to receive the ball and play a one-two, and Klaassen (#14) took up Depay’s (#10) position to receive the ball. This created space for Depay (#10) to receive a pass to then break the midfield line.

The position of the wing backs made it difficult for The USA to cover and cut out the passing lines. When the pass was played into Gakpo (#8), he then turned and drove at the centre backs before sliding the ball into Dumfries (#22), who crossed the ball along the ground to Depay (#10) who would finish in the bottom left corner. 

The wing backs would prove to be integral for The Netherlands, with Dumfries (#22) combining with Klaassan (#14) to create another crossing opportunity. Dumfries (#22) crossed the ball low again, executing a cut back cross for the opposite fullback Blind (#17) to finish.

The Netherlands would go into the halftime break with a 2 goal lead over The USA. 

Coach your players how to combine quickly by watching these two sessions by Mark Warburton and Terry Moore:

Teach your players how to rotate quickly and effectively by looking at this guide on midfield rotation:

Second Half Review

The second half saw limited opportunities for both teams as The Netherlands set up a little deeper to protect their lead and look to counter using their wing backs.

Opportunities were mainly only from set pieces for both teams, and shots from outside the box from The USA, where it was easy for The Netherlands to keep the USA in front of them. 

The USA would pull a goal back, from a corner that was originally cleared but then put back into the right hand side - which was crossed in for Wright (#9) to finish.

However, it would only take 5 minutes for The Netherlands to restore their 2 goal lead with a fantastic cross towards the backpost from Blind (#17) to Dumfries (#22) to finish to win the game for The Netherlands 3-1. 

Specific Strategy - The use of wing backs to pin opposition full backs

The Netherlands used their wing backs to pin The USA’s fullbacks, which created 1v1s in crossing areas. When The USA’s fullbacks committed, The Netherlands would have a free run at the back post from crosses which led to 2 of their goals.

In addition to this, it allowed The Netherlands' forward players to drop in to receive the ball and rotate, with the midfielders and the fullbacks unable to cover both the wingbacks and the forwards dropping in to receive the ball.

This gave them an overload in the central channel in the middle third, and due to USA’s press, it also left the wingbacks 1v1 against the fullbacks. 

The drawback to this is that although they would overload the middle third, they would not have many players in the final third, with 1 forward additionally dropping in. However if they combined quickly - as they did for the 1st goal - this would enable them to break multiple lines and get players forward, making the USA midfield and defensive units out of balance. 

Increase your knowledge on the formation that The Netherlands used in looking at the following guides:

Stats of the Game

The wingbacks for The Netherlands were involved in all 3 goals with Dumfries (#22) scoring 1 goal and assisting 2 and Blind (#17) scoring 1 and assisting 1 goal, with all 3 goals coming from cut back crosses along the ground. 

Next Game 

The Netherlands will play Argentina in the Quarter Final of the World Cup. 

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