The Group Stage of the 2022 World Cup is behind us! 16 lucky teams now have the chance to represent their country in a sudden death knockout tournament. We have officially made it to the 2022 World Cup Knockout Stage! These 16 teams are the top two teams from each group. The United States finished second in Group B after drawing Wales and England and then beating Iran. They now face the Netherlands in the first round of the knockout tournament. Let’s take a closer look at this stage of the World Cup as well as reflect on how we got here. And for some fun, I will give some predictions on how I think these games will go.
How the United States Advanced
USA vs Wales (1-1)
The United States controlled most of the first half of this game. Timothy Weah scored in the 36th minute, and from then on the US took their foot off the gas. The United States defensive line dropped back, and the team seemed content letting Wales do what they wanted. Wales got their goal in the 82nd minute off of a Gareth Bale penalty kick caused by Walker Zimmerman. The United States only had one shot on goal the whole game (the goal), resulting in their abysmal 0.78 expected goals to Wales 1.53 expected goals. But still, the States had 59-percent possession and our goalkeeper Matt Turner is one of the better in this tournament.
USA vs England (0-0)
This was a true classic soccer match where neither side would give much. Neither team went over one expected goal. England had 0.70 and the US had 0.59. The best shot of the match came from Christian Pulisic who shot a rocket that nearly went in but hit the post. Drawing England was a huge plus and inspires confidence now that we’ve hit the knockout stage. The Three Lions are one of the best teams in the world, and being able to hold them to zero goals scored is nothing short of an accomplishment. This game was by far from our best performance, but still, our offensive struggles continued to bleed through.
USA vs Iran (1-0)
This match was the United States first-time finishing the game over one expected goals scored. The USA finished the match with one real goal and 1.53 expected goals. Iran finished with 0.76 expected goals. And yes, this game was just like the Wales game where the United States scored and then let off the gas. Christian Pulisic scored in the 38th minute but had to leave the game after colliding with the Iranian goal keeper on the shot. It appeared he took a shot to the boys, but it was later reported that he had an abdominal contusion. But, the States held on and the win let them advance to the Round of 16.
United States vs Netherlands Preview
Saturday, December 2nd at 10 A.M. EST
Group Record: 1-1-1
Top Scorer: Christian Pulisic (1) and Timothy Weah (1)
Best Stat: Only one goal was allowed in the group stage with that being the penalty kick from Bale.
Group Record: 2-1-0
Top Scorer: Cody Gakpo (3)
Best Stat: The Netherlands has 12 saves so far, and this is the most in the World Cup.
The Netherlands is about as tough a draw as you can get in the first round of this part of the tournament. The Netherlands are undefeated in their last 18 matches, and Gakpo is the World Cup’s leading scorer as of now. And as shown above, they also have the most saves in the tournament. It’s going to be very very difficult for the United States to advance especially if Pulisic can’t play. The United States is 1-3 against Netherlands all-time, and they’ve won the most recent matchup in 2015. For our team, getting this far is already an accomplishment as we look toward 2026 when we actually host the tournament and automatically qualify.
In terms of this game, the Netherlands should win. But, the USA has held up remarkably well when it comes to goals as they’ve only allowed that one penalty kick to go in so far. If that trend continues, the United States may be able to hope for a 0-0 match that goes to penalties. If that were to occur, it’s anybody’s game. But, if the Netherlands gets ahead early, the United States will most definitely struggle to catch back up as we have struggled so far to even get shots on goal. I expect a sluggish first half that ends 0-0. But then I fully expect the Netherlands to take over in the second half and win the game by at least 1.
The winner of this game will take on the winner of Argentina vs Australia.
The Round of 16 Teams
*Odds to win it all in parentheses- courtesy of BetMGM.
United States (+8000)
South Korea (+75000)
The winner of the World Cup has also won their group 17 of the 21 total tournaments. The last time a team was runner-up in their group and won the World Cup was 1982 when Italy beat West Germany. This World Cup had a very good team in Spain actually finish as the runner-up to Japan. If a group runner-up were to make some noise in this World Cup, it would be Spain who matches up against Morocco in the first round. Croatia also made it to the Finals in 2018 and matches up against the second-worst group winner in Japan, so that’s another potential upset. And my truly bold prediction is that Senegal will beat England.
As far as the United States goes, as I said in the preview, it should be a very close first half. However, I don’t see them coming away as victors unless it goes to penalties. With the way the Netherlands plays, that probably won’t happen. I think we will lose a hard-fought battle and look onward to the World Cup in 2026.
As I teased a bit earlier in this section, I will take Spain to win it all. This would be their second World Cup Victory. Their first World Cup victory was in 2010.