The World Cup is the biggest prize in soccer. No tournament comes close to matching the World Cup and the 2022 edition is going to be a special occasion. The 2022 World Cup will be played in November and December because the weather in the host nation, Qatar, would be too hot to play in the traditional months of June and July. The United States men’s national soccer team have qualified for the competition but do they have what it takes to go all the way?
World Cup Qualification
Having failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, which was a major step back for the USMNT, the main aim for the team was to qualify in 2022. However, qualification was far from comfortable and the United States finished third in the CONCACAF third qualifying round table to seal an automatic place in Qatar. The USMNT finished on 25 points, the same number as Costa Rica but a superior goal difference was enough to see United States finish in third, with Costa Rica forced into the inter-confederation play-offs. United States won 7 of their 14 matches in qualifying but there were some disappointing results against the likes of El Salvador, Panama, Canada, and Jamaica. Nonetheless, United States got the job done, which was an improvement over 2018 World Cup qualifying.
2022 World Cup Group
It is fair to say the group draw for the 2022 World Cup has given the USMNT a chance to qualify for the knockout stages of the competition. England are the clear favorites to win the group and it will be left to the United States, Wales, and Iran to compete for second place. The first fixture of the tournament for the United States will be against Wales and it is vital to get off to a good start. The Welsh have experience of playing in recent European Championships and know how to get out of the group stage but this is their first World Cup since 1958. If the US can get a win in the opening game, they will be in a strong position heading into the next two matches. Anything from the England match will be a bonus but 4 points from the games against Wales and Iran, could be enough to finish second in the group and that is an achievable target for the USMNT.
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There are some key players the United States simply cannot afford to be without at the World Cup if they are to have a good tournament. Christian Pulisic is one of those players and the Chelsea forward is the top goal scorer in the United States squad with 21 goals in 52 games. Not only does Pulisic score goals but he is always a danger when dribbling with the ball and creates opportunities for teammates. Weston McKennie is another key man in the USMNT. The central midfielder players for Juventus in Italy and helps the midfield tick for the United States. Looking through the United States squad and there are plenty of players who are playing at the top level in Europe, including Sergiño Dest at AC Milan, Joe Scally and Borussia Monchengladbach, Tyler Adams and Brenden Aaronson at Leeds United, Luca de la Torre at Celta Vigo, Timothy Weah at Lille, and Giovanni Reyna at Borussia Dortmund. If all these players are fit, United States have a strong group of players who are capable of winning games in Group B.
How Far Can the USMNT Go?
Realistically, to qualify for the knockout stages would be an achievement for the United States. It is something they have managed to do only five times in the history of the World Cup. Once in the knockout stages, anything can happen and you only must look at the 2002 World cup as an example. United States reached the quarter final and lost 1-0 to Germany, who went on to play in the final.
Winning the World Cup is out of reach for the United States but they can qualify for the knockout stages and with a kind draw, could reach the quarter final.