On Friday at 2:30 p.m. ET, the U.S. men’s national team will participate in one of their highest-profile games as of late—a friendly against the Netherlands, the runner-up at 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
After the 2014 World Cup had ended with the Stars and Stripes bowing out in the round of 16 stage vs. Belgium, manager Jurgen Klinsmann brought the squad back into action on Sep. 3 and blanked the Czech Republic, 1-0.
From there, the United States were winless in five matches: draws to Ecuador and Honduras followed by three-straight defeats prior to a 2-1 victory over Panama in February.
While no tournament as considerable as the World Cup looms for the U.S., the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup cannot be overlooked, especially considering it factored into the firing of former USMNT head coach Bob Bradley nearly four years ago.
Klinsmann had a wonderful chance to prove himself in Brazil this past summer, and amidst months of testing range of youth and skill available to him, his attention is geared towards putting together the absolute best squad.
With that emphasis, getting a positive outcome over Oranje, televised on ESPN for all of America to see, becomes necessary.
“Are we coming here to get results? Yes, we are,” the coach said to reporters at Amsterdam Arena, via MLSsoccer.com. “We want to compete with them, in real games. And we want to see a lot of things from our players, just a couple weeks away from the Gold Cup.”
Klinsmann also noted that “the percentage is very high”, in respect to current players on the roster that will take the field at the upcoming tournament.
Nevertheless, notable absences do exist.
Two forwards integral to the United States’ success—Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey—will both not appear against the Dutch, as well as New England Revolution midfielder/center back Jermaine Jones. And 2014 World Cup regulars in the back line, Omar Gonzalez, Geoff Cameron and Matt Besler, did not make the roster.
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As for the Netherlands, manager Guus Hiddink hasn’t enjoyed an expected smooth run of form, his side sitting at third-place in their UEFA 2016 Euro qualifying group, five and six points behind Iceland and the Czechs respectively.
Friendly defeats to Mexico and Italy have also put a damper on the national team’s status, and now is the best time to strike for the United States, as Hiddink has lamented the attacking void created with Arjen Robben’s calf-tear injury.
“With the absence of Arjen Robben, the team will lose 30 to 40 percent of its quality and production. That’s the impact he has shown over the last year and a half,” Hiddink said.”It’s a loss for the Dutch national team, but also very annoying for him and Bayern Munich I can complain about it long and hard, but that will not help. We must go on.”
Still, the Netherlands will have a challenging outfit spearheaded by Manchester United trio Robin van Persie, Memphis Depay, and Daley Blind, not to mention a host of Eredivisie talent.