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World Cup predictions, picks: Can the United States pull off upset against the Netherlands?

Can the USMNT pull the upset against Clockwork Oranje?

Yunus Musah of USA in action during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group B match between IR Iran and USA at Al Thumama Stadium on November 29, 2022 in Doha, Qatar. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)
Yunus Musah of USA in action during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group B match between IR Iran and USA at Al Thumama Stadium on November 29, 2022 in Doha, Qatar. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)Read moreSTUART FRANKLIN / Getty Images

The United States Men’s National Team has a terrific opportunity on Saturday.

Looking to qualify for the World Cup quarterfinals for the first time since 2002, the USMNT will be underdogs against the Netherlands but can’t be too upset with their draw when you consider some of the teams they avoided.

At the time of writing, the USMNT is +182 to advance and +330 to win in 90 minutes. Do those prices flatter either side?

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Netherlands vs. United States prediction: Pick

  1. USMNT to advance (+182, FanDuel)

Netherlands vs. United States prediction: Analysis

As we saw in their matches against Wales and Iran, the USMNT tends to struggle breaking down teams that prefer to sit deep and clog up the match. When the onus is on the U.S. to create scoring chances through long spells of possession, they can look muted and lacking in ideas. The Yanks have plenty of playmakers and creative talent, but they don’t have a player who can break the lines with a single pass and they don’t have a reliable No. 9 to finish off chances or create space in dangerous areas.

But what the USMNT does have is athletic, tireless players in the midfield and out wide that make the Stars and Stripes a very dangerous team out of possession.

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Against England — which was far and away the USMNT’s best performance of the tournament — the Yanks were able to use their athleticism and team speed to give the Three Lions fits in the middle of the field. England was able to run rampant against Iran and Wales, but they struggled mightily against the Americans.

Tyler Adams, Yunus Musah and Weston McKennie have turned into one of the best midfield units in the entire tournament and their ability to make life difficult on opposing midfielders will be a huge factor against a Dutch midfield that looks great on paper, but has struggled through their first three matches.

In fact, outside of Cody Gakpo, you could say that Clockwork Oranje has been a major disappointment compared to their pre-tournament expectations.

» READ MORE: World Cup odds: USA soccer opens as underdog against Netherlands in Round of 16 matchup

Drawn into an easy group with Qatar, Ecuador and Senegal, the Netherlands posted a +4 goal differential but their expected goal difference was -0.4 and it was -1.8 before their 2-0 victory against Qatar on Tuesday. In other words, the Netherlands were a bit fortunate to top the group and were unimpressive against the stronger teams in their group.

That doesn’t mean that the Netherlands won’t grow into this tournament. The history of the World Cup is full of teams that started slow and went on to do big things, so there’s no reason to count them out just yet.

That said, it is fair to question whether or not we overestimated the ceiling of Clockwork Oranje. And it’s certainly fair to feel uneasy about backing them as an odds-on favorite against a team that punches up very well. England is a stronger team than the Netherlands with a better midfield and the USMNT gave them all sorts of issues last week.

Winning the midfield battle gives the USMNT a serious chance to get past the Netherlands and it’s a fair argument to make that the Yanks have the edge in the middle of the field with Adams, Musah and McKennie going up against some combination of Frenkie de Jong, Davy Klaassen, Teun Koopmeiners and/or Marten de Roon.

Sportsbooks around the country will be a little careful about how they price the USA given how much money will come in on the Yanks on Saturday, but this number is still well worth a bet on a team that does its best work as an underdog.

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