A World Cup 2022 Report Card For The USMNT

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The U.S. men’s national team has exited the 2022 World Cup after a 3-1 defeat in the Round of 16 to the Netherlands.

In the weeks and months ahead, U.S. Soccer and USMNT coach Gregg Berhalter will reflect on what went right, what went wrong and what the future holds for this squad of players.

Summary

The USMNT should be relatively pleased with its performance in the tournament.

Reaching the Round of 16 was par for this group of players and they got there – the third time the USMNT has made the knockout stage in 12 years. To do so, it had to overcome what was, at least on paper, the most evenly-matched of the eight finals groups. It also did so with one of the youngest squads at the finals.

That inexperience was one reason the team was never going to win the 2022 World Cup. That doesn’t mean the campaign was a disaster though, or even a disappointment.

Here are the positives and negatives the USMNT can take from its performance.

Areas of strength

The USMNT had a clear style of play and played positively and on the front foot – at least in parts – during the tournament. In the first half against Wales it looked impressive and it was the better team in the first half of the creditable 0-0 draw with England, the group favorite.

The nervy 1-0 win over Iran was less about playing pretty soccer and more about grit and determination. This young side showed it can be disciplined and secured the result it needed on an evening of high pressure.

“You see how resilient this group is, you see how unified this group is, you see what type of energy and output they put into every single game, and then along the way there’s some pretty good soccer,” Berhaltersaid after the victory over Iran, which qualified the U.S. for the Round of 16.

Another positive from the tournament is the potential of this squad. Core members like captain Tyler Adams, 23, Weston McKennie, and Christian Pulisic, both 24, should be reaching their prime in time for the 2026 World Cup, to be partly hosted on home soil. Yunus Musah, who has enhanced his glowing reputation at the finals, is still only 20 and set to be a key player for the national team for the next decade.

Areas for improvement

Striker and center-back were seen as the weakest areas of the USMNT’s starting 11 going into the World Cup and so it proved. The team managed just three goals in its four matches and conceded four.

While Christian Pulisic and Timothy Weah provided a threat in attack, and both grabbed goals, the team lacked a striker who could regularly find the net. Josh Sargent, Jesus Ferreira and Haji Wright were all given a chance but none carried a sufficient threat for this level of soccer. Those three are all in their early 20s and still have time to improve, but striker is an area where the USMNT could do with reinforcements or a star emerging before the 2026 competition.

The U.S. only conceded one goal in the group stage – and that was a penalty. That goal though was given away thanks to a clumsy challenge from Walter Zimmerman and there were moments he and defensive partner Tim Ream didn’t inspire confidence. The team likes to play with its full-backs Antonee Robinson and Sergiño Dest pushed high up the pitch, which puts pressure on the center-backs to be solid at all times.

The USMNT’s defensive weaknesses were exposed against the Netherlands in the Round of 16. There was a lack of concentration, especially for the third goal when an admittedly tired backline allowed Denzel Dumfries to run in at the back post unmarked. A positive in the position is Cameron Carter-Vickers, who was thrown into the starting 11 against Iran and played well, and is only 24.

Final grade B-

If the USMNT had failed to get out of its group, this tournament would have been seen as a disaster. Reaching the knockouts and losing to a more experienced side (in this case, Netherlands) is largely what was expected to happen.

The final grade is slightly above average for getting out of the group undefeated and the impressive draw with England. It is also worth remembering how young this squad is and there are several reasons to feel positive about its future.

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2 thoughts on “A World Cup 2022 Report Card For The USMNT

  1. Read, of course, far from my topic. But, nevertheless, it is possible to cooperate with you. How do you yourself feel about trust management?

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