U.S. 2022 World Cup preview: A look ahead to America’s chances on soccer’s biggest stage


After the calamity that was the 2017 qualifying run for the US Men’s national soccer team, characterized by miscues and injuries, the Americans bounced back with a solid 2021 qualifying run and will enter the Qatar World Cup with a newly reconstructed roster.

Led by 24-year-old captain Christian Pulisic, the Americans will need to rely on its young core if it wants to escape the dangerous Group B, which features England, Wales and Iran. England, the unambiguous favorite of the group, poses a daunting task for any squad that looks to challenge them. 

Assuming that England takes care of business in the group stage, that leaves one spot left for the remaining three teams in Group B, which many believe will be a fight between Wales and the U.S. This, of course, places immense pressure on the U.S. to come in at top form as it faces off against Wales in its first game of the tournament on Monday at 2:00. 

After a promising draw against Mexico back in March, the squad looked well-equipped to make a deep run in Qatar if it were able to stay healthy. Unfortunately, due to injuries to center backs Miles Robinson and Chris Richards, the U.S has been weakened and will be forced to use a committee on its back line. Moreover, goalkeeper Matt Turner, who recently wrested the starting spot from Zack Steffen, has served primarily as the backup for Arsenal and has failed to feel World Cup-level pressure yet.

The Americans, as promising as the young squad may be, have stumbled as they enter Qatar. Following a 2-0 loss to Japan and a 0-0 draw to Saudi Arabia in friendly matches, many fans have been left searching for answers. Despite this, new head coach Gregg Berhalter has been adamant that these recent miscues are not a microcosm for the upcoming World Cup. Tim Weah—a 22-year-old star winger who is likely to start in Qatar—is part of the explanation. Weah did not start in either of the two friendlies, which many point to as part of the reason why the team’s performances have been so lackluster as of late.

It’s no secret that the U.S. has an extremely young group of talent. While many see the lack of experience the U.S. possesses as a disadvantage, this youth may free the squad from feeling the burden of representing a nation. After failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, the Americans have little experience and know little of what pressures the World Cup holds. If the U.S. can maintain a “just another game” mentality, they may be able to surprise teams that are feeling the burden of what it means to represent an entire country.

As the U.S. prepares to make a deep run into early December, other emerging headlines have begun to dominate the news surrounding Qatar and the World Cup. After the Qatar government has continually disavowed gay rights within the country’s borders, Berhalter has stated that the team will wear a rainbow crest on its jerseys in solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community.

Beyond this, Qatar has also placed a ban on any alcohol being sold at the World Cup as it continues its stance as a dry nation, a decision that has evoked backlash amidst its already unpopular stance on LGBTQ+ rights. 

The U.S. begins its World Cup quest on Nov. 21 as it takes on Wales in its first game of the group stage.