The 2022 FIFA World Cup gets underway on November 20 in Qatar, marking the first time the tournament has ever taken place during the winter months. The USMNT will kick off their group stage campaign on November 21 with a match against Wales as they look to grab an early win to shore up their chances of advancing into the knockout rounds.
Ahead of the action, let’s take a closer look at what lies ahead for the Americans as they make their first World Cup appearance since 2014.
USA World Cup 2022 Preview
Odds to win World Cup: +13000
I think it’s pretty widely accepted that the Americans aren’t going to be winning the World Cup this year, but they can still find success in making a deep run. They finished third in the CONCACAF qualifiers and were a little too close to being sent to the inter-confederation playoff as they were tied on points with Costa Rica, but owned the goal differential tiebreaker to grab the final spot with an automatic berth. There are too many world powerhouses in play for the USA to be expected to win the tournament outright, but moving the needle further than their last few appearances will go a long way.
Odds to win/advance from Group B: +500 to win, -105 to advance
While England are the favorites to win the group at -280, the Americans are next in line but level with Wales at +500 at DraftKings Sportsbook. Their odds of at least advancing are much higher at -105, while Wales comes in at +100 to qualify for the knockouts. The USMNT will face off against Wales in their first match, so if they can get a positive result against the Welsh to kick off the campaign, they’ll be well on their way to a round of 16 appearance.
Gregg Berhalter and his squad will be looking to at least make a deeper run than in years past, with their best finish coming in 2002 when they reached the quarterfinals. Sure, they made it to the semifinals in 1930, but there were only two knockout rounds in the tournament’s inaugural edition and they lost their first one by a score of 6-1 to Argentina.
2002 is the only time they’ve made it past the round of 16, so they’ll look to at least get back to the quarters, if not even to the semifinals. It’s a tough road ahead as they’ll likely meet up against the Netherlands in the round of 16, assuming the Dutch win Group A and USMNT finish in second in Group B. It wouldn’t get much easier from there if they get through, as they’re bound to bump into the likes of Argentina, Brazil, and even Germany if they make it far enough.
The average age of the USMNT squad is roughly 25 years old, so they’ll have plenty of players who will be that much more experienced by the time they play host in the 2026 World Cup. They should be expected to find some amount of success in Qatar to build off of when they hope to make a real run at the title in 2026.
Key player: Christian Pulisic
While the American team has an unprecedented amount of guys who are playing overseas in top flight leagues, one player stands out above the rest and that’s Pulisic. The 24-year-old is expected to be the leader of the team as Berhalter has somewhat built the rest of the squad around him, whether he plays as an attacking midfielder or out on the wing.
Pulisic spent three years with Bundesliga side Borussia Dortmund, starting when he was just 16 years old where he went on to play 81 games and score 10 goals. In 2019, he signed with EPL side Chelsea in a record-setting $73 million move where he’s made 86 appearances and notched 20 goals, while also earning a Champions League title in 2019. He’s totaled 21 goals through 52 caps for the Americans and will look to add more to that tally in Qatar.