Determined to Bounce Back
Between 1990 and 2018, the USA only missed one edition of the World Cup. It was four years ago after finishing the last round of the CONCACAF qualifiers in fifth place. As expected, Christian Pulisic and company were brutally criticized, especially by former player Alexis Lalas. Therefore, they promised to redeem themselves in World cup soccer 2022.
Well, they’re halfway there. Qualifying isn’t enough; this team should, at least, advance to the Round of 16. Yes, they aren’t the betting online favorites to win Group B, but they do dominate the odds to finish second. I believe Pulisic, also known as Captain America, and his companions have grown, but facing England, for example, is very different from facing Honduras.
How Did They Get to Qatar 2022?
Team USA took things seriously right from the start. In the end, they finished third, only three points behind Canada and Mexico, thanks to a 7-4-3 record, meaning they got the last direct ticket to the 2022 world cup. Costa Rica (fourth) also qualified, but Los Ticos had to face New Zealand in a sudden-death match.
The Stars and Stripes scored 21 goals -only Canada scored more with 23- and allowed 10. They won all their home games but one, a draw against Canada, but ended up losing on the road to Canada, Costa Rica, and Panama. They sealed their ticket in style by crushing Panama 5-1 at Exploria Stadium.
Pulisic was crucial, finishing as the team’s top scorer with five goals, two of them in the previously mentioned game against Los Canaleros. Only Cyle Larin from Canada scored more with six. Ricardo Pepi followed Captain America with three goals. Brenden Aaronson, Weston McKennie, and Antonee Robinson scored two each.
As expected, Pulisic was named in the Best Team of the third round. Only he and defender Walker Zimmerman made the cut.
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Head Coach & Top Players
Let’s start with the players. There’s no doubt that Pulisic is the team’s top star, but I do not doubt that this is one of the most talented generations American soccer has had. Besides Pulisic, at least nine other players play in Europe, including McKennie, Robinson, and Tyler Adams.
Summing up, we’re talking about a well-balanced, experienced team. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that Team USA has talent to spare. Players such as Gyasi Zardes, Josh Sargent, Sebastian Lletget, and Cole Bassett probably won’t make the 23-man final squad, but all of them would be starters in pretty much any other team in CONCACAF.
Regarding the team’s head coach, Gregg Berhalter has plenty of experience as a player in the WC. He played in three games of the 2002 edition, becoming the first Crystal Palace player to play on soccer’s grandest stage. He also made the cut for the 2006 edition but didn’t play.
Berhalter’s coaching career began in Sweden. Hammarby IF gave him an opportunity in 2011, but he didn’t meet expectations as he led them to an 18-17-11 record in almost two years. He later returned to the USA to take the reins of Columbus Crew. He coached the Crew for 193 games, finishing with a 74-49-70 record. He was in charge for six seasons, leading the team to finish among the Eastern Conference top five six times.
He took over Team USA in 2018. Since then, the Stars and Stripes are 36-9-9. They’ve scored 114 goals and allowed only 34. He has already led them to win the CONCACAF Nations League (2019-20) and the Gold Cup (2021).
USA in the 2022 World Cup
As mentioned before, the USA will be in Group B. They’ll face Wales, England, and Iran, in that order. The Three Lions dominate the soccer lines to win it at -300, while the USA is offering a +550 price. Wales is +600 and Iran +1600.
Gareth Bale led Wales to the WC for the first time since 1958, so they won’t be easy prey. They’re eager to prove they belong to the elite. As for Iran, they re-hired Portuguese head coach Carlos Queiroz, so they won’t be easy prey either.
Individually, Pulisic is offering a +10000 price in the sportsbook to win the Golden Boot. Giovanni Reyna is also +10000, while Timothy Weah is +12500. I told you, we’re talking about a very talented generation.
History of USA & the World Cup
This will be USA’s eleventh WC. The Stars and Stripes are one of two teams from CONCACAF to have reached the Quarterfinals. It was in 2002 when they finished eighth after losing 1-0 against Germany.
On the other hand, their worst performance was in 1998, when they finished dead last thanks to a 0-0-3 record, only one goal for and five against.
Landon Donovan is the team’s top scorer in the world cup odds with five goals.