There's only one question regarding the United States and the World Cup: Can we advance? This question has rung through USMNT supporters' heads for decades now, considering the expectation we hold for our nation's team despite soccer being a 21st Century trend in America. Showings in 2010 & 2014 led me to believe the answer is yes, but we can't know for sure until the games are played. In this article, I'll explain why I think the USMNT has what it takes to advance in the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
Case Number One: Group B
My first contention with the question of advancement lies with our peers in Group B. The draw for the USMNT consisted of Wales, England, and Iran, a draw that, for many, seemed right dead set in the middle in terms of group difficulty. There are no mincing words; the English are damn good at football. Expectations for the English side are always heightened. Still, they have become fever pitch with their recent showings in the 2018 World Cup, advancing to the semifinals, and the UEFA Euro 2020, where they fell in the Final to Italy.
England is comprised of world-class talent up and down their roster. Harry Kane is the focal point of the offensive attack for the Brits, but he is also supported by Marcus Rashford, Jack Grealish, and Raheem Sterling. At each position, England goes at least two deep, and their skill strength will be in their substitutions, where they can add quality players to rejuvenate their side as legs get tired and guys become winded.
Wales & Iran do not have anywhere near the same talent level as the USMNT. Gareth Bale & Ben Davies for Wales and Mehdi Taremi for Iran give me pause, but by and large, their rosters combined shouldn't even give the United States that much of a problem.
Case Number Two: History
This category may surprise some, but the United States has a solid history of advancing past the Group Stage in the World Cup. Of the ten appearances the United States has made in the World Cup, six have gone to at least the Round of 16. 2010 & 2014, in particular, remind us of what the United States is capable of on the world stage. When the World Cup was hosted in South Africa in 2010, the United States was one extra time away from beating Ghana and going even further than the Round of 16. History exists for the United States with teams that could be argued as lesser in terms of quality and experience, which will lead me to my final and strongest case.
Case Number Three: The Roster
By far the strongest of my cases, the United States finally has a roster worth bragging about. As I've commented in the past, the USMNT is flush with talent in almost all game phases. At midfield is where the greatest strength of the team lies. Christian Pulisic is a world-class player who has shown out when the opportunity has arisen. Weston McKennie & Tyler Adams both give physicality and level-headed leadership to the midfield, making this team one of the most physically capable that we've seen. Gio Reyna & Sergiño Dest are our young guns, playing for Borussia Dortmund & AC Milan, respectively, despite their young age.
All in all, there is a lot to be excited about with these players, considering the USMNT is one of the youngest teams in the World Cup this year. If they advance, this leaves even greater hopes for when the United States hosts the World Cup in 2026. However, for this tournament in Qatar, I fully expect our talent and history to culminate in a very good showing in Group B and in turn, a well-earned advancement into the Round of 16.