Professional soccer player dedicated to America, Johan Kapellhof: 'Positivity is a relief'

Professional soccer player dedicated to America, Johan Kapellhof: ‘Positivity is a relief’

For Johan Kapellhoff, the Netherlands’ World Cup match against the United States is a special one. The 32-year-old from Amsterdam has been playing on the other side of the ocean for years. He has particularly noted that the mood among Americans is more positive. “It was really a relief when I came to play here.”

Johan Kappelhof & Team USA – Instagram: @jkappelhof4 & Orange Pictures

The temperature contrast is not great between Amsterdam and Salt Lake City: cold and dreary. “There was just a snowstorm here,” says Kappelhoff, who has lived in the US for seven years now. He landed in Chicago Fire in 2016 and has been playing for Real Salt Lake since last year and notices a clear difference with the Netherlands. “Analysts and fans are more positive here.”


“The interviews after that or the headlines are very different. In the Netherlands, there’s always a ‘but’ if the result is good. You’ll never see a fan blowing on their player here. I think they understand what athletes have to do to get to that level,” says Kappelhof, who He grew up in Bijlmer and ended up in the Ajax youth academy at the age of eight. However, there was no breakthrough in the first. “Most people played a sport in high school, high school, or college. In school, they’re already familiar with this type of sport. They’re just supports. When I came here to play, it was a real relief.”

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Kappelhoff noted that Americans “highlight” the good stuff. According to him, it will also help the national team in the World Cup. “They are proud of the boys and the young guests. The mood is good and they also think they have a good chance against Holland. I also heard that America would rather play against Holland than play Senegal. Then they can play from the position of the underdog in playing on the counter.”

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The popularity is growing

In recent years, soccer has been on the rise in America. “Seven years ago I would sometimes play in American football with bad artificial turf. Now most teams have their own home field with good quality turf. It’s changing fast.” Kappelhof is increasingly playing in newer stadiums and has noticed his popularity increasing. In 2026, the United States will host the World Cup alongside Canada and Mexico. “The younger generation chooses soccer more and more than typical American sports.”

“Netherlands are very dominant so they will decide the game”

John Kapelhoff

Kappelhof pins great hopes on the meeting between the Netherlands and the United States. “I think it will be a closed match, but the Netherlands will win,” says Kappelhoff, who has to sound the alarm early. In Salt Lake City, the game starts at eight in the morning. “Unfortunately I don’t have an orange shirt here,” said the five-time Netherlands international. “I think America was a bit disappointing in attack, but with Tyler Adams and Christian Pulisic they have very good players. The Netherlands are very dominant, so they will decide the game.”

The Netherlands and the United States match in the eighth final of the World Cup will be held this afternoon at four o’clock in the afternoon.

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