Second-half goal by teen Robben sends dominant Dutch to 1-0 victory.
AMSTERDAM (Wednesday, February 18, 2004) -- The United States went on a dream run to the 2002 World Cup quarterfinals. The Netherlands didn't even qualify. However, after tonight's 1-0 victory over the Americans, the Dutch clearly demonstrated how much more deep and talented their roster is.
Nineteen-year-old striker Arjen Robben found net in the 57th minute to give the Netherlands a triumph in the friendly before 29,700 at Amsterdam ArenA.
"This is the first time that this (U.S.) group has been together since the World Cup, and to play this well I was very pleased," U.S. manager Bruce Arena said. "But let's be fair. I think the better team won the game."
The U.S. was yet to register its first shot on goal when defender Wilfred Bouma sent a long ball down the left flank to Robben who used his chest to direct the ball to the inside of U.S. defender Frankie Hejduk. As Robben cut into the box, defender Cory Gibbs approached, but hesitated. As Robben approached the top corner of the six-yard box, he laced a shot into the top right corner of the net with goalkeeper Kasey Keller helpless to stop the Netherlands from taking a 1-0 lead 12 minutes after intermission.
"I thought we had a pretty good effort tonight, but Robben scored a great goal," said Arena who is 0-5 against European nations on their soil. "Even though we passed poorly and their pressure on the ball was exceptional, we did create some good quality chances in the second half.
The Netherlands held an 8-7 shots advantage with each side putting three on target. The first U.S. shot on goal came in the 75th minute when defender Gregg Berhalter sent a long ball to DaMarcus Beasley in the top left of the box. Taking the ball on one hop, Beasley, who replaced Eddie Lewis at the break, deftly headed the ball to his right, finding fellow midfielder Bobby Convey 10 yards from the center of the goal. Dutch keeper Edwin van der Sar charged out to stuff Convey's shot point-blank.
In the 83rd minute, striker Josh Wolff, who replaced Claudio Reyna 11 minutes earlier, took a pass from Convey at the top right corner of the box, but hit a weak roller that van de Sar easily fielded. Two minutes later, Wolff held a pass in the center of the Dutch defense and then back-heeled it to Beasley whose shot sailed several feet high,
The final U.S. chance came in the 89th minute when Convey found Beasley with a pass up the left side. Beasley drilled a solid shot from the top corner of the box, but van der Sar pushed it over the crossbar.
While the Netherlands controlled possession for long periods of time, it took only two shots in the first half. The first came in the seventh minute when midfielder Andy van der Meyde intercepted a poor back pass from Lewis and carried up the right flank before firing a shot high over the crossbar.
The second came when defender Jaap Stam carried inside the box to the left end line and played the ball back to forward Rafael van der Vaart whose hard shot off the first touch went right to Keller. Defender Carlos Bocanegra was well positioned to clear the ball after it bounced off Keller's chest.
The Netherlands earned six corner kicks in the opening 45 minutes, but did not manage a single shot off the set pieces, thanks to strong work by U.S. center backs Berhalter and Gibbs, as well as Keller. Dutch striker Ruud van Nistelrooy put the ball into the net twice, but on the first occasion was offside and, on the second, clearly punched the ball past Keller, earning a yellow card for his deceit.
The U.S. took two shots in the first half, neither of which threatened to score. In the 20th minute, Lewis collected a turnover on the left flank and shot a few yards wide, trying to catch van der Sar off his goal line. Less than a minute later, a weak shot by Convey went wide right.
In the 36th minute, Landon Donovan crossed the ball from the right side to his strike partner Brian McBride who failed to control it.
Keller kept the American deficit at one with strong saves on Bouma in the 67th minute and Roy Makaay a minute later.
The U.S. was without defender Eddie Pope who fell ill before the game. Defender\midfielder John O'Brien, who plays for Ajax in this stadium, was scratched after he strained a hamstring training with his club on Friday.
Netherlands 1, United States 0
Lineups: Netherlands - Edwin van der Sar, John Heitenga, Jaap Stam, Philip Cocu (Boudewijn Zenden 72), Wilfred Bouma (Frank de Boer 80), Edgar Davids (Clarence Seedorf 46), Andy van der Meyde (Roy Makaay 46), Wesley Sneijder (Mark van Bommel 46), Ruud van Nistelrooy (Pierre van Hooijdonk 80), Rafael van der Vaart, Arjen Robben. United States - Kasey Keller, Frankie Hejduk (Steve Cherundolo 85), Gregg Berhalter, Carlos Bocanegra, Cory Gibbs, Bobby Convey, Chris Armas, Claudio Reyna - captain (Josh Wolff 72), Eddie Lewis (DaMarcus Beasley 46), Brian McBride (Clint Mathis 61), Landon Donovan.
Shots: Netherlands 8, United States 7. Saves: Netherlands 3, United States 3. Corner kicks: Netherlands 9, United States 2. Fouls: Netherlands 13, United States 14. Offside: Netherlands 7, United States 1. Yellow card caution: Netherlands - van Nistelrooy 39.
Referee: Tom Henning Overbro (Netherlands). Assistant referees: Roe Vidar Lien (Netherlands), Arild Sundet (Netherlands). Attendance: 29,700 at Amsterdam ArenA. Weather: 39 degrees, overcast (stadium roof closed).