Hitting the fairway: Footgolf aims to take over the United States

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What do you have when you take the complexities of golf and match them up with the physical demands of kicking a soccer ball?

It’s called Footgolf.

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The sport dates back to the late 1920s — when it was still a concept and was known as codeball — but is now finally gaining traction on a global scale as one of the hottest up-and-coming sports, and rivaling both soccer and golf.

AFGL
AFGL

The beauty of Footgolf is that it only takes a soccer ball and a player in order to participate. The objective is straightforward. In as few kicks as possible the player must attempt to get the soccer ball into a cup with a 21-inch diameter.

Just as it is when playing golf, the lengths on most traditional Footgolf courses range from par 3 (the shortest length) to par 5 (the longest).

In the U.S., soccer has made great strides over the years at both the club and international levels, while golf has seen its share of peaks as well during the height of the Tiger Woods-Era, but American Footgolf League (AFGL) founder Roberto Balestrini believes that it is footgolf that has the potential to captivate the country moving forward.

Pro Soccer Talk recently caught up with Balestrini following the release of the Federation for International Footgolf (FIFG) international calendar which features a full-year schedule for the 2017 World Tour, similar to that of the PGA Tour.

“Soccer players retire early in life due to injuries or just because it is difficult for many of them to perform at the highest level when they’re in their late 20’s, early 30’s,” Balestrini told PST. “The AFGL has created a structure where former soccer players can get back into the spotlight playing FootGolf. In a few more years, we will see many of them taking up this sport on the professional level to continue to use their athletic skill in a new way.”

Expectations for Footgolf in the U.S. are very high despite the AFGL’s brief existence. The organization was founded in 2011 but has quickly grown to house over 500 courses throughout the U.S. in 49 states as well as Washington D.C., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

For the time being, North Dakota is the lone state that doesn’t feature a Footgolf course.

While the AFGL’s steady growth is encouraging for Balestrini and those of the Footgolf community, the league president has his sights set on bigger goals in the future.

“The golf industry has welcomed AFGL because we’re introducing a new demographic to the industry,” Balestrini said. “Participation in golf is declining in an average of 1.3 percent per year for the past decade while soccer is increasing by over eight percent. Now golf is doing better and perhaps FootGolf have something to do with it, even in a very small percentage. We’re working on our relationship with the soccer industry now because we had to start on the golf side to initiate relationships with the golf courses to create the necessary structure for the FootGolf to be played around the country.

“There’s a lot of potential for us to work with both sides in order to get where we want to be in the future. We just have to keep working hard and over the next five years I believe we’ll be in the position we want to be at.”

In an effort to help gain more interest from traditional soccer players and supporters, the AFGL recently announced a partnership with the American Outlaws (the U.S. Men’s National Team’s biggest supporter group). The deal includes an American Outlaws-only Footgolf tournament which will be held in March in San Jose, California.

In 2016, the AFGL reported nearly 1,300 members participated in the U.S. Footgolf National Championship., however, that number is expected to double or possibly triple for the coming 12 months.

Images of the American Foot Golf, final day, at the Desert Willow Golf Resort in Palm Desert, Ca., on Sunday, November 6, 2016. Photo by Rodrigo Pena
Images of the American Foot Golf, final day, at the Desert Willow Golf Resort in Palm Desert, Ca., on Sunday, November 6, 2016. (Photo by Rodrigo Pena)

The current format for the AFGL is very similar to that of golf, with tournaments typically played on weekends over the course of one to sometimes three rounds, depending on the difficulty of the competition.

The country is divided into four regions — the Northeast, Midwest, South and West — with regional tournaments sporadically played throughout the calendar year in the lead up to the National Championship at Desert Willow Golf Resort in Palm Desert, California.

While the prize money doesn’t rival that of golf or other major sports in the U.S., several of the sport’s elite expect Footgolf to become just as profitable over the next few years.

Jordan Godfrey, one of the faces of the AFGL, believes its only a matter of time until the sport really hits its strides because of the different avenues that attract players.

“I don’t think we know how far down the line that is but with the right connections between the players and the leadership of the sport I know that we can get it there,” Godfrey told PST. “There’s huge potential that you can take from both sides, with the PGA and MLS and all of European soccer as well.

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AFGL

“You can use formats that soccer players understand as well as formats that fans of golf understand and combine the two in order to capture two large audiences. I think spectators could really enjoy watching the sport too and obviously we’d love to be living the life of the PGA Tour guys.”

Godfrey is one of many footgolfers to join the AFGL after having had a background in soccer earlier in life.

Julian Nash, a former MLS forward for the San Jose Earthquakes and Houston Dynamo, has also made the leap to Footgolf and seen early success during his time on the course. On the international scene, Roberto Fabian Ayala has also completed a similar route to Footgolf after having previous played for top European clubs like AC Milan and Valencia while also representing the Argentina national team.

In 2016, Sharif Khatib finished the year as the number one-ranked player on the AFGL Tour. It was his previously experience around the beautiful game that made him seek a competitive alternative once his playing days were over.

Like many others that have tried out Footgolf, Khatib became enamored with the sport immediately and has surrounded himself with it ever since.

“I grew up playing soccer my whole life and played Division I soccer in college at Loyola Marymount University,” Khatib told PST. “After I got out of college I wasn’t really playing competitive soccer anymore so I was looking for another sport to give me that adrenaline rush and something to compete in. My buddy told me about Footgolf and I was kind of intrigued by it when I first heard about it because of my soccer background and I figured it was a sport I could do well in.

“I went and played and ever since day one I’ve been in love with the sport. I felt like I had the skills to compete at the highest level so I’ve just been pursuing it over the years and been hoping to continue to get better each time I go out on the course.”

Sports are one of many channels that connect people throughout the world, and Footgolf is no different. With 35 official Footgolf federations spread across the globe, the opportunity for travel and to build relationships with players is what makes the sport’s future so attractive.

Angel Reyes — the 2016 U.S. National Championship winner — says that while his experiences domestically with Footgolf have been amazing that the sport’s opportunities to take him abroad have been not only eye-opening but a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

“It’s definitely a great experience with playing club back in the day,” Reyes said. “Now I play with my Footgolf club [Canyon City] and we have five or six guys that usually travel together and carpool for tournaments. Sharing hotels as well.

“It’s not just the brotherhood of the club either because you get to meet other people from Europe, South America, Asia, Oceania, Africa and many other places. You keep in touch with all these people from everywhere around the world and experience these places that I never imagined I’d have the opportunity to go to. I’m very thankful for that”

World Cup 2022 schedule – how to watch, groups, calendar, match schedule, brackets, dates

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The World Cup 2022 schedule is locked in and this tournament in Qatar has been sensational as action throughout November and December will capture the imagination of the world.

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Saudi Arabia, Japan and Morocco have already pulled off huge upset wins over Argentina, Germany and Belgium respectively as the tournament has delivered plenty of shocks.

From the USMNT and England getting out of their group to Lionel Messi dragging Argentina through and Mexico just missing out on getting out of the group stages, Australia making it to the last 16 amid upsets galore, there are plenty of intriguing games in the group stage.

[ MORE: World Cup rosters for all 32 teams ]

Then we have the small matter of the Round of 16, quarterfinals, semifinals, and final to look forward to. Bring. It. On.

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Below is the schedule in full, details on how to watch the games and everything else you need..

[ MORE: World Cup odds ]


World Cup 2022 schedule, start time, dates, how to watch live

  • When: November 20, 2022 to December 18, 2022
  • Group stage game kick-off times: 5am, 8am, 10am, 11am, 2pm (all ET)
  • Location: Qatar
  • TV channels en Español: Telemundo, Universo, Peacock
  • Streaming en Español: Peacock (all 64 matches)

Follow along with ProSoccerTalk for the latest news, scores, storylines, and updates surrounding the 2022 World Cup, and be sure to subscribe to NBC Sports on YouTube!


Group A | Group B | Group C | Group D | Group E | Group F | Group G | Group H

Group A schedule (all kick off times ET)

Recap/highlights: Qatar 0-2 Ecuador – Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor
Recap/highlights: Senegal 0-2 Netherlands – Al Thumama Stadium, Al Khor
Recap/highlights: Qatar 1-3 Senegal – Al Thumama Stadium, Al Khor
Recap/highlights: Netherlands 1-1 Ecuador – Khalifa International Stadium, Al Rayyan
Recap/highlights: Netherlands 2-0 Qatar – Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor
Recap/highlights: Ecuador 1-2 Senegal –  Khalifa International Stadium, Al Rayyan

Group B schedule

Recap/highlights: England 6-2 Iran – Khalifa International Stadium, Al Rayyan
Recap/highlights: USA 1-1 Wales – Ahmed bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan
Recap/highlights: England 0-0 USA – Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor
Recap/highlights: Wales 0-2 Iran – Ahmed bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan
Recap/highlights: Wales 0-3 England – Ahmed bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan
Recap/highlights: Iran 0-1 USA – Al Thumama Stadium, Al Khor

Group C schedule

Recap/highlights: Argentina 1-2 Saudi Arabia – Lusail Iconic Stadium, Lusail
Recap/highlights: Mexico 0-0 Poland – Stadium 974, Doha
Recap/highlights: Argentina 2-0 Mexico – Lusail Iconic Stadium, Lusail
Recap/highlights: Poland 2-0 Saudi Arabia – Education City Stadium, Al Rayyan
Recap/highlights: Poland 0-2 Argentina – Stadium 974, Doha
Recap/highlights: Saudi Arabia 1-2 Mexico – Lusail Iconic Stadium, Lusail

Group D schedule

Recap/highlights: France 4-1 Australia – Al Janoub Stadium, Al Wakrah
Recap/highlights: Denmark 0-0 Tunisia – Education City Stadium, Al Rayyan
Recap/highlights: France 2-1 Denmark – Stadium 974, Doha
Recap/highlights: Tunisia 0-1 Australia – Al Janoub Stadium, Al Wakrah
Recap/highlights: Tunisia 1-0 France –  Education City Stadium, Al Rayyan
Recap/highlights: Australia 1-0 Denmark– Al Janoub Stadium, Al Wakrah

Group E schedule

Recap/highlights: Spain 7-0 Costa Rica – Al Thumama Stadium, Al Khor
Recap/highlights: Germany 1-2 Japan – Khalifa International Stadium, Al Rayyan
Recap/highlights: Spain 1-1 Germany – Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor
Recap/highlights: Japan 0-1 Costa Rica – Ahmed bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan
Recap/highlights: Japan 2-1 Spain– Khalifa International Stadium, Al Rayyan
Recap/highlights: Costa Rica 2-4 Germany – Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor

Group F schedule

Recap/highlights: Belgium 1-0 Canada – Ahmed bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan
Recap/highlights: Morocco 0-0 Croatia – Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor – 5am
Recap/highlights: Belgium 0-2 Morocco – Al Thumama Stadium, Al Khor
Recap/highlights: Croatia 4-1 Canada – Khalifa International Stadium, Al Rayyan
Recap/highlights: Croatia 0-0 Belgium – Ahmed bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan
Recap/highlights Canada 1-2 Morocco – Al Thumama Stadium, Al Khor

Group G schedule

Recap/highlights: Brazil 2-0 Serbia – Lusail Iconic Stadium, Lusail
Recap/highlights: Switzerland 1-0 Cameroon – Al Janoub Stadium, Al Wakrah
Recap/highlights: Brazil 1-0 Switzerland – Stadium 974, Doha – 11am
Recap/highlights: Cameroon 3-3 Serbia – Al Janoub Stadium, Al Wakrah
Friday, December 2: Cameroon vs Brazil (preview) – Lusail Iconic Stadium, Lusail – 2pm
Friday, December 2: Serbia vs Switzerland (preview) – Stadium 974, Doha – 2pm

Group H schedule

Recap/highlights: Portugal 3-2 Ghana – Stadium 974, Doha
Recap/highlights: Uruguay 0-0 South Korea – Education City Stadium, Al Rayyan
Recap/highlights: Portugal 2-0 Uruguay – Lusail Iconic Stadium, Lusail – 2pm
Recap/highlights: South Korea 2-3 Ghana – Education City Stadium, Al Rayyan
Friday, December 2: South Korea vs Portugal (preview) – Education City Stadium, Al Rayyan – 10am
Friday, December 2: Ghana vs Uruguay (preview) – Al Janoub Stadium, Al Wakrah – 10am


Round of 16 schedule

Match 49 – Saturday, December 3: Netherlands vs USA (preview) – Khalifa International Stadium, Al Rayyan – 10am

Match 50 – Saturday, December 3:  Argentina vs Australia – Ahmed bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan – 2pm

Match 52 – Sunday, December 4: France vs Poland – Al Thumama Stadium, Doha – 10am

Match 51 – Sunday, December 4: England vs Senegal – Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor – 2pm

Match 53 – Monday, December 5: Japan vs Croatia – Al Janoub Stadium, Al Wakrah – 10am

Match 54 – Monday, December 5: Morocco vs Spain – Stadium 974, Doha – 2pm

Match 55 – Tuesday, December 6: Winners Group F vs Runners up Group E – Education City Stadium, Al Rayyan – 10am

Match 56 – Tuesday, December 6: Winners Group H vs Runners up Group G – Lusail Iconic Stadium, Lusail – 2pm


Quarterfinal schedule

Match 58 – Friday, December 9: Winners Match 53 vs Winners Match 54 – Education City Stadium, Al Rayyan – 10am

Match 57 – Friday, December 9: Winners Match 49 vs Winners Match 50 – Lusail Iconic Stadium, Lusail – 10am

Match 60 – Saturday, December 10: Winners Match 55 vs Winners Match 56 – Al Thumama Stadium, Doha – 10am

Match 59 – Saturday, December 10: Winners Match 51 vs Winners Match 52 – Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor – 2pm


Semifinal schedule

Match 61 – Tuesday, December 13: Winners Match 57 vs Winners Match 58 – Lusail Iconic Stadium, Lusail – 2pm

Match 62 – Wednesday, December 14: Winners Match 59 vs Winners Match 60 – Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor – 2pm


Third-place play-off

Match 63 – Saturday, December 17: Losers Match 61 vs Losers Match 62 – Khalifa International Stadium, Al Rayyan – 2pm


Final

Match 64 – Sunday, December 18: Winners Match 61 vs Winners Match 62 – Lusail Iconic Stadium, Lusail – 10am

Japan comes back to beat Spain, finish top of group in incredible fashion

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Japan came back from a goal down at halftime to beat Spain 2-1 and finish top of the group in truly stunning, heart-stopping fashion at the 2022 World Cup on Thursday.

WATCH FULL MATCH REPLAY

Ahead of matchday 3 in Group E, the simplest math was as follows: a German win, plus a Japanese loss (to Spain), would see the 2014 world champions jump from 4th to 2nd and avoid a second straight World Cup group-stage exit.

The first part of that equation seemed to be going relatively straightforward, as Serge Gnabry opened the scoring in the 10th minute. A minute later in the other game, Alvaro Morata put Spain ahead and Germany were going through as things stood. But, Ritsu Doan and Ao Tanaka struck twice in six minutes to start the second half and overturn the deficit to a European giant, just as they did against Germany in the opener.

[ LIVE: World Cup 2022 schedule, how to watch, scores, hub ]

Then, something even more unthinkable happened: Costa Rica equalized, and then they went ahead. At that point, they were going through as runners-up. That lasted for all of three minutes, until Kai Havertz lifted the ball over Keylor Navas to make it 2-2. Havertz struck again 12 minutes later to make it 3-2, and give Germany a small glimmer of hope — that Spain might equalize and save Germany from elimination, but they never did.

In the end, Japan (6 points) advance as Group E winners, joined by Spain (4) in the round of 16.

[ MORE: Latest Group E standings, schedule, scores ]


How to watch Japan vs Spain live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 2pm ET, Thursday (December 1)
Stadium: Khalifa International Stadium, Al Rayyan
TV channels en Español: Telemundo
Streaming en Español: Peacock (all 64 matches)


Key storylines, players to watch closely

Spain were at their brilliant best as they put seven goals past Los Ticos in their opener, before coughing up a late lead and settling for a 1-1 draw with the desperate Germans in game no. 2. All in all, it’s been a good start to the World Cup for Luis Enrique’s exciting, young side. Six different attacking players have scored a goal for Spain, with Alvaro Morata and Ferran Torres the only ones to find the back of the net twice thus far.

As for Japan, it’s been a rollercoaster of emotions this World Cup. Their comeback victory over Germany in the opener seemed to signal their arrival in a new tier on the world’s biggest stage, before falling flat on their faces in a 1-0 loss to Costa Rica, who had conceded seven goals just four days earlier. Instead of clinching their place in the round of 16 with a win, Japan need at least a draw from their toughest group game in order to move on.


Japan quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 24
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 7
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from AFC
Coach: Hajime Moriyasu
Key players: Maya Yoshida, Takehiro Tomiyasu, Takumi Minamino, Daichi Kamada

Spain quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 7
World Cup titles: 1 (2010)
World Cup appearances: 16
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from UEFA (1st place)
Coach: Luis Enrique
Key players: Rodri, Pedri, Pau Torres, Jordi Alba

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Germany out of World Cup after Group E finishes in absolute chaos

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Germany beat Costa Rica 4-2 to close out group-stage play at the 2022 World Cup on Thursday, but it wasn’t enough for Hansi Flick’s side to advance to the knockout rounds.

WATCH FULL MATCH REPLAY

Ahead of matchday 3 in Group E, the simplest math was as follows: a German win, plus a Japanese loss (to Spain), would see the 2014 world champions jump from 4th to 2nd and avoid a second straight World Cup group-stage exit.

The first part of that equation seemed to be going relatively straightforward, as Serge Gnabry opened the scoring in the 10th minute. A minute later in the other game, Alvaro Morata put Spain ahead and Germany were going through as things stood. But, Japan scored twice in six minutes to start the second half and pull off another unlikely comeback, just as they did against Germany in the opener.

[ LIVE: World Cup 2022 schedule, how to watch, scores, hub ]

Then, something even more unthinkable happened: Costa Rica equalized, and then they went ahead. At that point, they were going through as runners-up. That lasted for all of three minutes, until Kai Havertz lifted the ball over Keylor Navas to make it 2-2. Havertz struck again 12 minutes later to make it 3-2, and give Germany a small glimmer of hope — that Spain might equalize and save Germany from elimination, but they never did.

In the end, Japan (6 points) advance as Group E winners, joined by Spain (4) in the round of 16.

[ MORE: Latest Group E standings, schedule, scores ]


How to watch Costa Rica vs Germany live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 2pm ET, Thursday (December 1)
Stadium: Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor
TV channels en Español: Telemundo
Streaming en Español: Peacock (all 64 matches)


Key storylines, players to watch closely

For Germany, it’s been a struggle to finish scoring chances rather than waste loads of expected goals (3.09 vs Japan, and 1.29, double that of Spain). 26 shots, 5 big chances nearly 700 passes translated to just one goal against the Samurai Blue, and they were made to pay for their transgressions. Hansi Flick is undoubtedly already under immense pressure ahead of Thursday’s game, through very little fault of his own.

As for Costa Rica, it seemed beyond impossible that they could be in such a position heading into the third game. Even in the victory over Japan, they manufactured all of 0.11 expected goals on 4 shots attempted. Win, lose or draw, that’s paltry offensive output that you might be able to overcome and steal one result at a World Cup, but for most sides it proves to be their undoing. They couldn’t it again, could they?


Costa Rica quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 31
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 5
How they qualified: Qualified from CONCACAF via interconfederation playoffs
Coach: Luis Fernando Suarez
Key players: Keylor Navas, Joel Campbell, Celso Borges, Bryan Ruiz

Germany quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 11
World Cup titles: 4 (1954, 1974, 1990, 2014)
World Cup appearances: 20
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from UEFA (1st place)
Coach: Hansi Flick
Key players: Manuel Neuer, Antonio Rudiger, Joshua Kimmich, Leon Goretzka

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Key battles for the USMNT versus Netherlands in World Cup Round of 16

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The United States men’s national team will match wits with Netherlands at 10am ET Saturday in the 2022 World Cup’s Round of 16, the biggest match for the program since the 2014 knockout round scrap with Belgium that cemented Tim Howard’s status as a USMNT icon.

If the Yanks hang with the Netherlands, let alone beat them, there’s a good chance another USMNT player tattoos his name on the national team’s history. Christian Pulisic may have already done so against Iran but let’s face it: The knockout rounds are a different animal.

[ MORE: Netherlands vs USA preview, stream info ]

That means winning a match-up or two, and Netherlands presents a bunch with world-class players In defense — to a man — as well as midfield in Frenkie de Jong and emerging attacker Cody Gakpo up top.

And there’s another match-up we’ll get to, an internal one, by the end of this post.

Netherlands vs USA key battle No. 1: The front three versus Van Dijk, Timber, and friends

This one could start with Christian Pulisic versus Virgil van Dijk, as the Chelsea man has had plenty of luck against the once-imperious Liverpool man over his career, but there are two problems with that.

The first is that Pulisic may not be fit to start the match and the second is that Van Dijk in a back three versus Chelsea is much different as Van Dijk in a back three versus international competition.

Make no mistake about it: The Netherlands back three is a luxury most nations envy. Beyond Van Dijk, there’s young Jurrien Timber, Man City’s Nathan Ake, Juventus’ Matthijs de Ligt and Inter Milan’s Stefan de Vrij. That’s a special, special group.

And with Josh Sargent’s ankle, we can’t even cheat and make it about VVD versus the USMNT’s center forward. So suffice it to say that Gregg Berhalter’s front three is going to have to find a way behind and between a terrific defense. Timothy Weah might be the best bet to get behind, but will he have Pulisic to pull the strings?

Netherlands vs USA key battle No. 2: Yunus Musah versus Frenkie de Jong

This isn’t really a 1v1 scrap, either, though it’s a battle of who will out-produce the other.

Tyler Adams will do a lot of the dirty work for the United States, but the USMNT will look to Musah to take the ball off the backs and off Adams and progress the ball forward.

That’s very much what FDJ thrives doing, and the Dutch will be expected to have more the ball in this game.

If Musah’s carries, final third entries, and dribbling distance is anywhere near De Jong’s, the U.S. will probably be having an okay day. It does not bode well if De Jong’s is superior, because the Barcelona player’s midfield mate may also have similar numbers and USA will be all about the counter attack.

England v USA: Group B - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022
(Photo by Eddie Keogh – The FA/The FA via Getty Images)

Netherlands vs USA key battle No. 3: Tyler Adams versus the Dutch midfield and defense

Following the tone set by key battle No. 2, the USMNT is going to want Tyler Adams dictating the pace and electricity of the game if it can have the ball as much as it would like in this Round of 16 matches.

Adams being able to decide whether he’s playing the old John Brooks role of picking up audacious long passes or shuttling the ball to Musah or another player for progression and combination play is a boon to the USA when it has enough control of the game to make Adams a quarterback.

To borrow and mutilate a pop song from years ago, the Yanks would love to be all about the pass, about the pass, no dribble.

But if the Yanks are reduced to having to make the most of counters, with limited passages of play with strong possession, then it becomes less about Adams with the ball and more about an off-his-game (for now) Weston McKennie and his friends creating mayhem for the Dutch. That can be fine, too, but we bet Berhalter is watching the Dutch matches from Group A and speculating that he can have around 45 percent of the ball.

Netherlands vs USA key matchup No. 4+5: Christian Pulisic vs his pelvis, Gregg Berhalter vs himself

Gregg Berhalter has done a pretty good job setting up the Yanks for games here, and deserves a whole lot of credit for that as well as the USMNT’s growth from game-to-game and its keeping its head in the wake of federation-inflicted controversy prior to the Iran match.

But this one’s a big one. If Christian Pulisic can start the match against the Netherlands, the USMNT’s odds of winning the game shoot up exponentially.

If not, Gregg Berhalter’s seeming preference to slot in Brenden Aaronson over Giovanni Reyna opens the Yanks up against a team that would love to see the Yanks more opened up.

Let me explain.

Aaronson is an exceptional talent, a whirlwind of concern of the opposition as he presses like few others and seemingly never really tires. He’s also a smack talker of the highest order, but that’s beside the point and not just because Reyna possesses skills in that department.

The right-footed Aaronson is such a good presser and runner that he ranks high amongst top-five league forwards in pressures, interceptions, blocks, and clearances. That’s important, but it also leaves space on the pitch for tidy teams to exploit.

While the Yanks aren’t cooked with Aaronson in Pulisic’s spot, they are far more like-for-like when Borussia Dortmund starlet Giovanni Reyna is in the fray. Reyna fits the bill in a lot of the above pressing quotes but is just a bit better in the small spaces, a bit closer to Pulisic. Consider Aaronson more in the Adama Traore or Jack Harrison role, while Reyna is more like club teammate Marco Reus.