Louis van Gaal has some guts.
The Dutch national team coach saved his final sub for the last minute of extra time in the World Cup quarterfinals vs. Costa Rica to swap keeper Tim Krul for starter Jasper Cillesson in penalty kicks. Krul is two inches taller, however he’d only saved two of his last 20 penalty kicks at the club level with Newcastle United.It was a crazy move, right, one perfect for the Dutch version of First Take, if the the Oranje were eliminated and van Gaal didn’t use a field player for his final substitution.
The move turned out to be brilliant. Krul guessed correctly on every Costa Rica attempt, stopping kicks from Bryan Ruiz, the second taker, and Michael Umaña. Meanwhile Robin van Persie, Wesley Sneijder, Arjen Robben and Dirk Kuyt converted for the Dutch, giving them a 4-3 win in the shootout.
The old cliche is penalty kicks are a lottery but perhaps Krul and van Gaal’s research will help dispel that notion. Unfortunately it had to come against CONCACAF heroes Costa Rica.
The Netherlands advances to play Argentina on Wedndesday, giving us a marquee set of semifinals with Germany and Brazil in the other (Tuesday).