After months of rigorous struggles and a close race for qualification against the finest in Concacaf in the Octagonal, the United States qualified for the World Cup. The Men’s National Team’s goal of qualifying for the FIFA World Cup again was accomplished. Now that the squad has a World Cup spot guaranteed, here is what it needs to do to get ready for the last leg of the journey to Qatar.
An inflow of fresh young talent developed into a number of players playing for elite European clubs throughout the coronavirus pandemic, with Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie, and Gio Reyna being some of the most well-known names. This new team defeated Mexico in the CONCACAF Nations League Final, winning 3-2 in a memorable match. They triumphed over Mexico on August 1 in the 2021 Gold Cup as well. On December 18, 2021, the team defeated Bosnia and Herzegovina 1-0 in a friendly to set a program record for wins in a calendar year (17 wins, 2 loses).
Ricardo Pepi, given that he had not scored for either his club or his country in 11 months, his participation in the most recent U.S. squad came as a bit of a surprise. While on loan from Augsburg to FC Groningen, he has adapted well, and his team’s lone goal in a 2-1 loss to Sparta Rotterdam gave him a much-needed confidence boost going into the U.S. camp.
Jordan Pefok has pretty much done everything he could to be called up. He has four goals in all competitions and played a significant role in Union Berlin winning the Bundesliga. However, it was not enough to make the most recent American squad. Although head coach Gregg Berhalter claims that no one has been shut out, Pefkos omission does not augur well.
The only real question over the top player in the USMNT pool is whether he plays on the wing or in the center. At least until some of the young prospects in the pipeline prove they are prepared to be called upon, he is the best choice in both positions, with the wing appearing to be a better bet for him. He has been sidelined for virtually the entirety of 2020 due to injuries, so Berhalter will be praying that Pulisic is well when World Cup qualifying gets up later in the year.
Weston McKennie, Tyler Adams, and Yunus Musah, collectively known as “MMA,” are sure bets to start in midfield for the United States. While Juventus as a whole is struggling, Adams and Musah are particularly strong for their team, while McKennie at least gets regular playing time.
A major problem is that the only alternative to support Adams at holding midfield is the seasoned Kellyn Acosta, giving Sands an advantage to be selected as a defender. Gio Reyna is back on the field for Borussia Dortmund, but he hasn’t yet secured a starting position despite his versatility to play on the wing or in midfield. Luca de la Torre’s outstanding qualifying efforts appear to have secured him a berth.
Matt Turner and Zack Steffen, who will both need to find a way to acquire significant club minutes in the upcoming season, are currently regarded as possibilities 1A and 1B at goalie. The third goalkeeping position is less secure, but Sean Johnson has to lose given the uncertainty surrounding Ethan Horvath’s club situation and Brad Guzan’s recovery from an ACL tear.
The USMNT used to have a significant problem at fullback. Even so, it is only on one side. There are not many choices after Antonee Robinson, who has solidified himself as the clear first choice left back. Since Armenia Bielefeld plummeted to the 2. Bundesliga this season, George Bello has had trouble finding playing time, and Antwerp fullback Sam Vines is a very inexperienced player.
Miles Robinson, a center back, presumably will not play in the World Cup after tearing his Achilles early in the MLS season. Even though John Brooks has made an effort to show that he is prepared to rejoin the national team, Berhalter has continuously rejected requests for the out-of-contract defender to be included.
Player to watch
While injuries have kept Weston McKennie off the pitch for the majority of the past year, there is no denying McKennie’s significance when healthy.
McKennie is a versatile player who can play a variety of midfield positions, primarily as a box-to-box or a deep-lying defensive midfielder.
The 24-year old has competed internationally for the United States at both the junior and senior levels. In addition to winning the first 2021 CONCACAF Nations League and placing second in the 2019 CONCACAF Gold Cup, he made his senior debut in 2017.