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Fifa World Cup: The USA come up short, but Argentina avoids the upset

A disappointing way to begin a Saturday, especially after the team’s strong performance in the group round and the expectation that this youthful squad would advance to the quarterfinals.

The Dutch exposed the quality gap that exists between the United States and the teams they hold up as benchmarks. Louis van Gaal, coach of the Netherlands, devised a brutally successful tactical game plan that led to three goals and a 3-1 victory.

Usually reserved and sometimes aggressive, Van Gaal’s typically serious demeanour took a turn lighthearted following Saturday’s victory, as seen by him bending over to kiss the cheek of the man of the match Denzel Dumfries (one goal, two assists) in the press conference that followed the game. While Van Gaal’s style may not be the most aesthetically pleasing, it was so effective against the United States that both goals were assisted by wing-backs (Dumfries for Daley Blind and Blind for Dumfries, respectively).

Even yet, the United States will always wonder what could have been. Despite an early opportunity missed by Christian Pulisic, the United States lone goal was scored by Haji Wright in what appeared to be more of a fluke than an acrobatic effort. In addition, as has been the case for some time now, a reliable first-choice striker is still needed. After the game, United States coach Gregg Berhalter commented, “We don’t have a Memphis Depay right now.”

There is genuine excitement and optimism about the future of the United States national team, regardless of whether Berhalter remains as coach. A solid foundation will be laid upon which to learn and expand. We are already putting in our 2026 World Cup bids.

Argentina avoids the upset by beating Australia 2-1

Australia knew they had little chance against Argentina in the round of 16 on Saturday. And when Lionel Messi’s first-half goal and a goalie error handed Argentina a second with roughly a half-hour to play, it seemed the Socceroos’ run in Qatar was over.

But that’s when the real fun started. After Enzo Fernandez scored an own goal, Australia pushed one back, and Messi’s quest for the coveted World Cup victory seemed to be on the verge of collapse. Aziz Behich of Australia made his best Messi imitation with a mesmerising run that was frantically deflected by defender Lisandro Martinez.

Australia’s World Cup success will serve as an inspiration to a new generation.

Despite their World Cup elimination, Joshua Parish of the National Curriculum believes the Socceroos will inspire a new generation of Australian soccer enthusiasts.
Then, with only seconds remaining, keeper Emiliano Martinez produced the save of the night on Socceroos teenage sensation Garang Kuol’s last-gasp effort to ensure Argentina would not follow fellow traditional powerhouse Germany out of this tournament early.

Australia has made its presence felt at this World Cup, as have its supporters at home, who have remained up all night to support them. There is no shame in losing against a player on a mission like Messi on Saturday. Just a collection of players that gave it their all and came up just short.

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