In just over a month, the United States of America begin their World Cup journey in Qatar. This will be their 11th World Cup appearance and their first since missing the tournament in France four years ago.
They were placed in the same group with Canada, Honduras, Costa Rica, Mexico, Panama, Jamaica and El Salvador and secured qualification for the World Cup by finishing third in the group.
They were drawn into group B alongside one of the World Cup favourites England, a Gareth Bale led Wales and Iran.
This is a group where all four-team participating rank amongst the 20 best teams in the world according to FIFA. Ranked 16th on the planet, the United States have the second highest world rank in the group behind England who are ranked fifth and ahead of Wales who are ranked 19th and Iran who rank 20th. By this metric, the group cannot be treated like an easy one but football is not played on paper.
Who will be the key players
The U.S. Soccer Federation will announce its final World Cup roster on November 9th. Even before the World Cup begins, I might have some ideas about who will definitely be making it to Qatar and be players to important to drop when fit.
Captain America has proven himself to be a player able to come up in the clutch when needed. The 24-year-old forward will go into the World Cup as one of the most experienced players and the defacto leader of this young and talented team.
He will be looking to add to his 19 goals in 46 USMNT appearances at the World Cup. His pace and dynamism on the ball along with his eye for goal will surely light up Qatar and potentially help his team qualify for the latter stages.
For the moment, it looks like Weston McKennie has put his injury woes behind him. The 24-year-old has made 28 caps for the United States and will be a key player in Qatar, bringing his dynamism and combative nature in the middle of the park with him.
At 19, Musah has already shown himself to be one of the bright talents in world football. The Valencia man has been a key part of the Club’s midfield so far this season, delivering two assists in eight La Liga matches and will potentially partner Weston McKennie in the United States midfield.
Musah has already played 17 times for his country at his age and will be a key midfielder for the national team for years to come. A breakout tournament awaits for the skillful midfielder.
Gio Reyna is another teenager on the list. The talented young winger has entertained USMNT fans with his skilled dribbling as well as his electrifying style of play. He is one of the most talented players in the team and will be one fans will want to watch in Qatar.
The 19-year-old has already made 12 appearances for his country, scoring two goals.
How will the United States fare at the World Cup?
The USMNT begin their World Cup campaign against Wales on November 21st against Wales before taking on England four days later on the 25th. They close out their group campaign against Iran on the 29th.
They do not go into the tournament in the best form but they will be slight favorites for the affair, at least on paper. The match against Wales will be arguably their most important match in the group as a negative result against the Welsh will add extra pressure on a really tough England fixture.
Wales will be a tough outfit with experienced players and a very recognizable World Class leader in Los Angeles FC’s Gareth Bale but the United States will have enough about them to overcome the Welsh side and claim their first three points of the tournament in a close game.
A win like that will a confidence builder, especially for a young team. It will help them settle their nerves when they go up against England. The Three Lions are one of the best teams on the planet. They have a team stacked with world class talent across the board and there is every chance that the Americans will be outmatched.
The USMNT will put on a brave display but will be outclassed by the more experienced and more talented England side who will go on to win the group.
The third match against Iran could potentially be their easiest on paper. There is a strong possibility that Iran would’ve lost England and Wales in their two previous fixtures and will only be playing their third for pride. The US will be in a good position to qualify with Wales playing against England. The United States will stroll in this fixture, getting a couple of goals in the process and advance to the next round of the World Cup.
It’s going to take a lot to surpass their third place World Cup finish in 1930 but they have the talent to be a plucky team in the knockout stages. This young and fearless team will have a ton of players play at their first World Cup in Qatar and the experience they gain from it will be invaluable. Win, lose or draw the foundations for 2026 (when they co-host the tournament with Canada and Mexico) will be set come November.