The United States crashed out of the World Cup on Saturday after suffering a 3-1 defeat against the Netherlands in the round of 16.
The Dutch displayed their firepower with two first-half goals, leaving the young US side an insurmountable mountain to climb. Despite halving the deficit in the second half, hopes of a US comeback were crushed as Denzel Dumfries struck Netherlands' third and sent Gregg Berhalter's side out of the tournament.
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There was optimism for the US before the match when concerns about the fitness of star Christian Pulisic were put to rest as the Chelsea forward was named in Berhalter's starting lineup despite being forced off injured against Iran on Tuesday.
Pulisic nearly gave the US an early lead, latching on to Tyler Adams' flicked pass in behind but his left-footed strike was stifled by Andries Noppert.
The US made a bright start but couldn't capitalize on their chances and were punished as Netherlands found the lead on 10 minutes. Free-flowing, one-touch-buildup play saw the ball worked out to Dumfries on the right wing. His first-time ball was cut back to Memphis Depay, who dispatched a neat finish past Matt Turner and into the far corner.
Adams, the US captain, said the lack of experience hampered the US against a veteran team.
"A game like that it comes down to the margins obviously," Adams said. "And when you play a team with so much quality like that and you give them three, four chances they're going to put three or four away."
While Louis van Gaal's side has been criticized for a conservative style, they conceded just once in their opening three matches. Goalkeeper Noppert had to be alert to maintain their strong defensive record and he blocked a fiercely struck effort by Tim Weah from 20 yards on 43 minutes.
But as the US found a good tempo, the Dutch went down the other end and doubled their lead just seconds before the end of the first half.
Dumfries again probed down the right flank before delivering a fizzing ball into Daley Blind, who stroked a first-time right-footed strike past Turner.
Berhalter's side threatened early in the second half, with Tim Ream seeing a tame effort cleared off the line before Weston McKennie struck over.
With time running out and chances of a US comeback dwindling, the Netherlands looked to put the game beyond reach. Turner had to provide an excellent double save to stop Teun Koopmeiners' shot before Steven Bergwijn's subsequent header.
Turner's heroics sparked hope for the US and they halved their deficit with 14 minutes to play, thanks to a bizarre goal by Haji Wright.
The ever-present Pulisic squared the ball to Wright who, under pressure, unconventionally flicked the ball up his leg and looped his finish over the head of the towering Noppert.
Optimism was short-served for the US, however, as Dumfries complemented his earlier two assists with a goal of his own to ensure victory for Van Gaal's side.
Blind found space to bend a perfect left-footed cross to the back post where Dumfries was lurking to fire home.
Adams said the match showed the US team's progress.
"And for us I'm super proud of the boys' performance today," Adams said. "We can show that we can hang with the best teams in the world, some of the best players in the world.
"And that's a lot of progress for US Soccer. We're moving in the right direction for sure, but we need to keep pushing cause we're not there yet but we're close.
"It's exciting, the more time together the more growth we should have. But having said that we still need to develop individually to more mature players for moments like this so we can come out on top."
Coach Berhalter had words of praise for his US squad.
"This is a difficult one to handle, it's such a good group of guys, such a close group of guys and we came up short today but not for a lack of trying, not for a lack of effort," he said. "I think the guys poured everything they had into this game and unfortunately we lost it."