USMNT must seize this championship opportunity after a long drought

We’ve waited a long time for US soccer.

Too long.

Friday’s World Cup draw saw the USA placed in Group B alongside England, Iran and either Wales, Scotland or Ukraine at the World Cup in Qatar later this year.

The Americans won’t know their first opponent until June when Wales meet winners Ukraine-Scotland for last place in the tournament. But they know their first game will be on November 21st, the opening day of the 2022 tournament.

This ends an eight-year wait for another World Cup match for the US men, who failed to qualify four years ago in what was one of the bitterest disappointments in US men’s national team history.

After their opener, the USA play England on November 25th, the day after Thanksgiving, and end the group game against Iran on November 29th.

The Americans’ failure to qualify in 2018 after losing to Trinidad in their last qualifier was a massive setback, especially when it seemed like US soccer had made a significant step forward at the 2014 World Cup when he was eliminated from the group game and narrowly lost 2-1 to Belgium in the round of 16.

Christian Pulisic
Christian Pulisic celebrates scoring in a 2022 World Cup qualifier against Panama.

This is the year for the USMNT to go even further than 14. The USA are capable of making it count this time around with a roster full of youngsters but with strong international experience.

This is a year for the rising US stars to play fearless football and show they belong, rather than tiptoe into the intimidating pool of veteran international competitors.

This US side should go into the World Cup invigorated by their performance in the at times grueling CONCACAF qualifiers. With just four players remaining in the current roster from the side that failed to make it to the 2018 World Cup, USA made it through qualifying and borne the weight of that disappointment, the weight of the last eight years without a World Cup game.

“It helped us understand and overcome the challenges,” said US manager Gregg Berhalter. “We saw how the group grew through qualifying.”

When asked what counts for a successful World Cup, Berhalter said: “The starting point is definitely getting out of the group. Once you do that, it’s a tournament, it’s the knockout stage and anything can happen.”

World Championship
Jennifer Cozzolino

The knockout stages begin on December 3, and if the USA don’t make it to this round of 16, this World Cup will be a failure. The quarterfinals begin on December 9, which would be a nice place for the Americans to advance. The semi-finals will take place on December 13th and 14th and the final on December 18th.

The Americans, ranked No. 15 in the world after CONCACAF qualification, went into the draw at 80/1 to win this World Cup, with Brazil and France listed as joint favorites at 11/2.

England are considered favorites in Group 2, but that hardly means USA can’t get out of the group. England is beatable, second place in the group is within reach.

“It’s just an exciting moment,” said Berhalter.

It’s a moment USMNT must seize, and when it does it will have been worth the wait and represent a huge step forward for US soccer on the international stage. USMNT must seize this championship opportunity after a long drought


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