Netherlands boss Louis van Gaal praised the United States men’s national team, or USMNT, during a press conference on Friday. The coach claimed he was not surprised that the Americans progressed through Group B. Furthermore, it will be a difficult matchup come Saturday at Khalifa International Stadium.

“U.S.A, that is a very energetic squad with physically strong players and that is tough for any opponent,” said van Gaal. “You can tell from their results. But hey, we will do everything we can to win, to beat U.S.A.”

“I had expected U.S.A. to progress after the first match, because before that I hadn’t seen them.”

Louis van Gaal rates USMNT head coach

Van Gaal also applauded his USMNT counterpart Gregg Berhalter. “What I observe is a vision, what I see is a team that is keen to execute that vision, which is of the utmost importance,” the Dutch coach continued. “And I see the conviction, especially the conviction of the players. So that for a coach must be fantastic.”

The USMNT is set to face the Netherlands on Saturday at Khalifa International Stadium in Al Rayyan. Surprisingly, this will be the first matchup between the two sides at a significant tournament. The U.S. have, however, played five previous friendlies against the Dutch.

Two sides have history

A thrilling 2015 fixture in the Netherlands was the last time that the two teams faced each other. It was the only time the U.S. beat the Dutch. The match featured seven goals as the USMNT beat the hosts 4-3 on the night. Deandre Yedlin and Jordan Morris are the only players still in the USMNT team that played during the 2015 match.

Berhalter has also faced the Netherlands as a player for the USMNT. The former defender was a part of the team that suffered defeats in 2002 and 2004 at the hands of the Dutch team.

The match on Saturday will be a massive test for this young American team. They put together some fantastic performances in the group stage and fans will hope that the positive display continues.

PHOTO: IMAGO / Pro Shots

Guide to World Cup 2022

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TV Schedule: All the info on where and when to watch every game
The Groups: We breakdown each group and all the teams
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Predictor: Play out every scenario with our World Cup Predictor
World Cup Bracket: Map out the entire tournament, from the groups to the final