The US Men’s National Team kicked off the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar on November 21st, against Wales. Returning to the world stage for the first time in eight years, the USA was drawn alongside Wales, England, and Iran in Group B. The U.S. team has received more confidence and support from fans as soccer’s popularity has skyrocketed in America over the past decade through the growth of Major League Soccer and the Americans internationals on Europe’s best soccer clubs.
This edition of the U.S. team is packed with potential as it is the third youngest team of all 32 nations competing in the worldwide tournament. While many players will be vital for the U.S. to continue its run, fans are most familiar with the trio of Christian Pulisic of Chelsea, Weston McKinnie of Juventus, and Tyler Adams of Leeds. Other fan favorites, including Brendan Aaronson of Leeds and Gio Reyna of Borussia Dortmund, have been relegated to bench roles in the first few matches but have been impactful when manager Gregg Berhalter has put them on the pitch.
The first match against Wales and former Real Madrid star Garreth Bale looked like it would be a dominant victory for the U.S. early on. A first-half goal by Tim Weah put the USMNT in the driver’s seat. They controlled play early but could not sustain the pressure in the second half, allowing Wales to gain control of the game. Bale, who currently plays for MLS side Los Angeles FC, was able to draw a foul from Nashville SC defender Walker Zimmerman inside the penalty box in the 80th minute. Bale had a perfect shot, impossible for U.S. and Arsenal keeper Matt Turner to stop. Even as the U.S. picked up one point from the 1-1 draw, the game felt like a disappointment after the strong effort in the first half.
After the game against Wales, the U.S. needed to get their act together to achieve success against the premier nation in Group B, England. This match was the most hyped game in U.S. soccer history and coincidentally occurred on November 25th, the same day British soldiers left New York in 1783 after losing the Revolutionary War. England was the huge favorite, and many Three Lions fans online believed their team would obliterate the USMNT after their opening game, a 6-2 win over Iran. Neither team could generate many chances in a back-and-forth game, and it finished in a 0-0 draw. The U.S. generally outplayed their favored opponent but could not put the ball in the back of the net.
With two points in as a result of going 0-0-2 in the first games, the U.S. sat in third place in Group B, needing to jump either England or Iran on the final day of the group stage to advance to the knockout round. The U.S. was favored heading into their match with Iran, who previously had beat Wales 2-0 with two goals late in added time in the second half. If the U.S. team could beat their Iranian foes, they would advance onto the group stage. Captain America Christian Pulisic scored a beautiful 38th minute goal off a pass from Sergiño Dest. The Americans controlled play throughout the first half, but struggled in the second offensively with Pulisic taken out of the game as a result of an injury occurring during his goal. Even with their offensive struggles, the defense held on as Zimmerman made many key clears and Cameron Carter-Vickers used his physicality to stop Iranian forwards from high danger chances. The U.S. held on to a 1-0 victory, placing them second in Group B and drawing them Netherlands in the Round of 16.
Simply making it through the group stage will be considered a success for this young American squad, but a win over the favored Dutch side would have been considered the best win in American Men’s Soccer History. Nevertheless, the team will look forward to 2026 in which they will likely be considered to have their best chance of advancing in their history.