The FIFA World Cup starts on Nov. 20 with the opening game between Ecuador and Qatar, the host nation. This tournament has already made history as the first World Cup to never be played in May, June, or July. This historic change was made due to the extreme heat in Qatar, which made it unsafe for the country to host in the summer. Due to this scheduling, many professional players had to pause their seasons to join their national teams. But it is all worth it, because the FIFA Men’s World Cup is commonly recognized as the largest sporting event on Earth along with the Olympics. After four years of intense qualifying games, group play has been decided, and the teams have officially arrived in Qatar.
The U.S. Men’s national team (USMNT) successfully qualified this year, after missing out on the last world cup which took place in Russia. The USMNT tragically missed out after an unconvincing qualifying campaign which culminated in a disastrous loss to Trinidad & Tobago. This loss shook the entire U.S. Soccer institution to its core. But four years later, the U.S. has returned to the world stage thanks to a rebuild led by Greg Berhalter, U.S. head soccer coach, along with a new generation of young American talent.
Here’s a few prominent players you need to know in the USA’s world cup roster of 26. This new generation is headed by Christian Pulisic, who has been established as the new face of U.S. soccer after a prominent rise to fame in Germany for Borussia Dortmund, and now at Chelsea in England. He is backed up in the midfield by Weston McKennie, a gritty center mid who was born and raised in Texas, and developed in the FC Dallas academy. He moved to Germany where he played at Schalke, and after continuing to improve and raise his own stock he is now at Juventus, which is historically one of the best clubs in Italy. Next to Weston, we will most likely see Tyler Adams and Yunus Musah, who are both high level midfielders. Tyler Adams plays at Leeds United in England, and Yunus Musah plays for Valencia in Spain. As for the back line, Walker Zimmerman, Nashville’s starting center back has been a Berhalter regular throughout the qualification campaign and it will be exciting to see how he plays throughout the tournament.
The USMNT has been placed in group B with England, Iran, and Wales. The top two teams from group play will move onto the round of sixteen. The U.S.’s chances of moving out of group play are high. It is likely that powerhouse England will advance to the next round as well since they are amongst the expected teams to possibly win the World Cup. In order for the U.S. to make it out of the group stage they would have to beat Wales, and a strong Iranian team. A win versus England would most likely mean the U.S. wins group B as well. Of course, anything is possible during the World Cup and expected results could change. Still, the USMNT has drastically improved since their last time at the World Cup, and it will be exciting to see what this new and improved group can do.