FIFA | Photo from Sporting News
The 2022 Qatar World Cup is coming up in November, and the United States Men’s National Team will compete at the highest level of competition after qualifying for the event.
Despite missing the 2018 Russia World Cup, the USMNT looks to make a splash in Group B and stands a chance in making it out of the group to the round of 16.
A young roster
Head coach Gregg Berhalter emphasizes recruitment of younger talent to the national team, pushing these players to high levels. The USMNT has the youngest average age of all teams at the World Cup, averaging 24.5 years of age.
Some of these young talents include Gio Reyna, who is 19, and Brenden Aaronson, who is 21. Both players also play overseas for big European clubs, with Reyna playing for Borussia Dortmund and Aaronson representing Leeds United in the Premier League.
The younger roster gives the U.S. a scrappy playstyle, making up for lack of experience with physicality.
This style of play is risky after falling to opponents like Canada and Mexico in the past, but the USMNT has found its groove recently against other teams in the Americas, allowing the team to grab the last spot in order to qualify.
As the USMNT steps onto the pitch for the World Cup matchups, big factors are how its opponents react to physicality and if the younger roster can keep up with more experienced teams. The U.S. has struggled against World Cup teams in the leadup to the tournament, falling to Japan 0-2 and tying Saudi Arabia 0-0.
Group B matchups
It looks possible for the USMNT to escape group B. Iran and Wales look beatable, but England is a step above the rest; however, a win over Iran and Wales gives the U.S. a high likelihood of second place and an exit from group B.
England has one of the deepest rosters in the entire tournament, with three to four professional players in every position, and is one of the favorites to make a deep run.
The U.S.’s first match against Wales is a good identifier of how the World Cup will go. The Welsh roster has some potential, with Gareth Bale as a big threat. A win over Wales and a decent showing against Iran – or vice-versa – could give the U.S. a great chance to escape the group and make the round of 16.
From there, it all depends on the matchups the USMNT finds, but making the round of 16 would be a huge improvement from not making the last tournament.