United States soccer has seen its successes but has also seen its many failures. No, I am not talking ab the U.S. women this time around; we are looking at the U.S. men, arguably one of the most disappointing countries when it comes to success in the World Cup tournament. The best finish that the USMNT (United States Men’s National Team) has had was in the 1930’s when they placed third. There were only 13 teams in the tournament.
Since then, we have seen a country that continues to disappoint at the world stage. A country that has seen legends like Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley, Landon Donovan, Brian McBride, Tim Howard, etc. rise and fall without the glory of holding the World Cup. We have come close on many occasions, only to have the sweet taste of world victory taken from us. We thought that 2010 could have been the year when Donovan scored the thriller counterattack goal against Algeria, only for the Yanks to be ousted by Ghana in the round of 16. There was even a span of time when during international friendlies, we beat Germany on our soil and the Netherlands on theirs. Was it possible that we were making a turn? The 2014 World Cup was the chance the U.S. needed with the group of death that no one thought us to make it out of. A win over our previous enemies in Ghana, a draw against Ronaldo’s Portugal and just a one-goal loss to the eventual champions, Germany. The U.S. looked primed to make a real run toward the World Cup Finals. But again the dreams were short lived and we lost in the round of 16 to Belgium when Tim Howard did everything he could with a 15-save performance. The woes go on.
Time to bounce back for 2018 right? Wrong. The U.S. were in the driver’s seat of their own destiny and they crashed the vehicle. After winning the 2017 Gold Cup over a strong Jamaican side, they ended qualifying by losing to Trinidad and Tobago, ultimately ruining their chances at the 2018 World Cup. This would be the first time that the United States would not be featured in the World Cup since 1986.
So the eventual “Golden Age” of American soccer had come and gone, or so we thought. While we were facing the disappointment of not qualifying for the World Cup, some young Americans began to take the world by storm. Some youngsters began making their names in the Bundesliga and even on the MLS stage. Young with the last names of Pulisic, McKennie, Sargeant, Adams, Morris and Steffen. These young Americans were putting their stamp on American soccer lore. These players would eventually start getting global attention for the threats that they could pose to not only the American neighbors in the North and the South, but to other countries around the world.
When the U.S. fell to Trinidad, these youngsters were on very different paths. Christian Pulisic was a winger for Borussia Dortmund. Weston McKennie was a defensive midfielder for Schalke. Tyler Adams was on his move from New York Red Bulls to RB Leipzig. Zack Steffen had just signed on to play for English giant, Manchester City. Jordan Morris was two years off of being named MLS Rookie of the Year. Just when the Red, White and Blue thought their hopes were gone, the youngsters said we are not going anywhere. But this was then, let’s look at now and the future.
Gone are the days of USMNT terrors, the new breed of Americans are ones to be feared. Pulisic currently finds himself holding the reins at Chelsea as their number 10. McKennie just made a big move going from Schalke and being their catalyst, to Italian giants, Juventus. That is right, an American playing with Cristiano Ronaldo. Another American teen, Sergino Dest, just made the toughest choice of his life and is now playing with Barcelona, alongside Lionel Messi. You are reading that right. Two Americans playing with the two greatest soccer players of all time. The future is bright but just how bright and what will this new potential pool of Americans look like? Let us take a look.
ESPN.com (https://www.espn.com/soccer/united-states-usa/story/4079205/usmnt-big-board-the-23-who-will-represent-the-us-at-qatar-2022) recently released what 23 players will represent for Gregg Berhalter’s 2022 World Cup squad. The squad could potentially look like the following:
- Goalkeepers: Zack Steffen, Sean Johnson, Jesse Gonzalez
- Defenders: Reggie Cannon, Matt Miazga, John Brooks, Sergino Dest, Miles Robinson, Tim Ream
- Midfielders: Tyler Adams, Weston McKennie, Christian Pulisic, Sebastian Lleget, Paxton Pomykal, Gio Reyna, Paul Arriola, Brenden Aaronson, Jackson Yueill
- Forward: Jordan Morris, Tim Weah, Josh Sargent, Ulysses Llanez, Jozy Altidore
Personally I think some changes could be made to this ESPN article. Maybe switch Gyasi Zardes with Llanez or Ream with Aaron Long. But let’s stick to what ESPN has for now. Here is what my ideal starting 11 would like for Qatar 2022.
Say what you will but the future of United States soccer is bright. Everyone supporting the Red, White and Blue may not have to fret much longer because better days are coming everyone. We have had to endure our hard times and decades of disappointment. But as Sirius Black said “I’ve done my waiting…” Waiting is something we will not have to do anymore. The trophy is close and if it is not this next World Cup, how appropriate would it be for us to get our first one in 2026 in the United States? We can dream, right?