USMNT Returns to the World Stage


After failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, the United States reached the Round of 16. The Americans would be defeated by the Netherlands, 3-1.

Amid tension, doubt, and disbelief, the United States Men’s National Soccer Team (USMNT) has advanced from their group and qualified for the knockout stages of the 2022 World Cup. Surviving through contentious interviews and fiery rivalries, the American side looked to improve on reaching the Round of 16 in 2010 and 2014. 

After failing to qualify for the 2018 tournament, the United States fields a very young and energetic team, with more than half of the squad under 25 years old, and only one player with any prior World Cup experience. The inexperience would not prove to be a factor, as the American team finished second in the group, tying England and Wales, and winning the final match against Iran. 

At only 22 years old, Timothy Weah, playing in France for first-division club LOSC Lille, put the American team in the lead with his first international goal in the United States’ first game against Wales. But an unfortunately conceded penalty late saw Wales level the score, 1-1. In a postgame press conference, USMNT manager Gregg Berhalter said, “It was a hard fought game but we left everything out there.” The American squad would then face the powerhouse of England, playing the Three Lions to a tense and spirited stalemate. While neither team could eventually break the other down, the United States competed fiercely with the English giant, managing more shots and corner kicks over the course of the 90 minutes. 

Two ties left the USMNT in third place in the group, needing a win against second-placed Iran to advance. The match, overshadowed by tensions outside the tournament, was seemingly bigger than just soccer, as Iranian protesters outside and inside the stadium were searched, and signs and shirts, some protesting women’s rights in Iran, were confiscated. Prior to the game, the fire was fueled when an Iranian journalist nearly interrogated USMNT captain Tyler Adams about the United States’ mispronunciation of ‘Iran’ and what it was like to play in a country with a history of racial segregation. Adams, the American captain, answered with maturity beyond his 23 years of age. “There’s discrimination everywhere you go,” said Adams. “In the U.S., we’re continuing to make progress every single day.” The Americans would triumph in the must-win game against the Iranian team, 1-0.

Adams and the American side were defeated in the Round of 16 by the Netherlands, 3-1. In a game in which the United States managed more shots and greater possession, the Dutch team proved their tactical dominance, taking advantage of mistakes made by the American defense to advance into the quarterfinals. While disappointed to lose, the United States still has a lot to be optimistic for. In what was the highest overall ranked group in the entire tournament, the USMNT went undefeated, conceding only one goal, a penalty, while being the second-youngest team in contention. With the next edition of the World Cup to be held in the U.S, Mexico, and Canada, be prepared for the United States to excel on home turf in 2026.