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2022 FIFA World Cup Team Preview: United States

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United States World Cup Team Preview

United States

FIFA Ranking: 16
Manager: Gregg Berhalter
Federation: CONCACAF
Group: England, USA, Wales, Iran
Odds to win World Cup+15000, PointsBet
Odds to win Group B+600, PointsBet
Odds to advance in Group X+110, PointsBet

 

How did the United States qualify for the World Cup?

After failing to qualify for the last World Cup, the US once again struggled early on in qualifying but after a huge win on the road in Honduras, wins over Costa Rica, Mexico and Panama, the US comfortably qualified for the 2022 World Cup. 

Who is the United States’ most important player?

Weston McKennie

Christian Pulisic is the most popular answer here, but McKennie is a key figure in what the US needs to do to advance the Group Stage. After England, all three other teams in Group B are legitimate contenders to finish second. The US has struggled to defend more than anything, which means they need Weston to control the game in the midfield. McKennie is a box-to-box midfielder with great athleticism and versatility while being an equally talented offensive and defensive player. Pulisic gets most of the attention, but the US needs McKennie to control the midfield in order to advance. 

What are the United States strengths, weaknesses, style of play and form?

The US are expected to deploy a 4-3-3 formation. Don’t expect the US to dominate possession of the ball either, as they are known to play through the back and then press their opponents when they lose possession. 

The US’s strength are their wings with a combination of Christian Pulisic, Gio Reyna, Timothy Weah and Brenden Aaronson. For those who don’t know, Gio Reyna is a highly rated prospect for Borussia Dortmund who made his debut at age 17. Reyna is a winger not known for his pace but more so his vision. He can also drop into the middle of the pitch and play right behind a striker. Reyna is not expected to start, but if the US are struggling to create chances, I expect Berhalter to go to Reyna.

It’s rare that a nation has significantly talented wingers wide but without any strikers. Yes, there are issues with the US at center back, but by far their biggest unknown is at striker. The US continue to be without a true number 9, with strikers only scoring four of their 20 qualifying match goals. For anyone who has followed the USMNT, not being able to develop a striker has been a consistent theme since Jozy Altidore. The current competition is between Jesus Ferreira, Josh Sargent, Jordan Pefok and Ricardo Pepi with no one standing out. Ferreira is the favorite to start but Josh Sargent and Ricardo Pepi are the two that intrigue me the most. One other note, Zach Steffen, the expected US starting GK is not expected to be named to the team anymore. While keepers for the US have typically been a strength, this is the first time I can remember with some question marks surrounding the position. 

The US are not in their best form, losing 2-0 to Japan in a friendly and tying El Salvador in the Nations League. They most recently drew to Saudi Arabia 0-0. Prior to that they had a strong draw against Uruguay and a nice win 3-0 against Morocco. 

What is the United States World Cup Outlook?

Expectations are high for the USMNT, and sportsbooks generally agree listing them as the second favorite to make it out of Group B. Group B is not a cakewalk, with Wales and Iran both really strong teams, with FIFA rankings of 19 and 20 respectively. The US has never had this many players playing for top European clubs, with many considering this the beginning of a golden generation for the US. Expectations are probably unrealistically high, but anything but advancing out of the Group Stage would be viewed as a failure. In such a competitive group, the key for the US to advance is to grab at least 3 points between Iran and Wales. Any points against England would be viewed as a win, but they will also need to manage their goal differential. It’s unlikely any team in Group B could recover from anything greater than a 2-0 defeat. 

Best United States World Cup Bet

The United States Group B Winner (+600, PointsBet)

PointsBet must really not like this USMNT squadm as they list the best odds for nearly every US future. If the US win Group B, they would play the runner up of Group A which is expected to be Senegal or Ecuador. If the US finishes second, they would play the winners of Group A, which is expected to be Holland. The US are +450 to advance to the quarter finals, which would mean expecting them to finish second in Group B and beating the Dutch. With Group B as competitive as it is, if the US beat Wales and Iran, but lose to England, there is a high likelihood that 6 points is still enough to win the group. England’s defensive woes in a competitive group make +600 for the US to win Group B a better value than +450 to advance to quarter finals. 

Ultimately, I am not in love with any US future as they are overvalued considering how difficult their group is. 

United States World Cup Roster 

Goalkeepers: Ethan Horvath, Sean Johnson, Matt Turner
Defenders: Cameron Carter-Vickers, Sergino Dest, Aaron Long, Shaq Moore, Tim Ream, Antonee Robinson, Joe Scally, DeAndre Yedlin, Walker Zimmerman
Midfielders: Brenden Aaronson, Kellyn Acosta, Tyler Adams, Luca de la Torre, Weston McKennie, Yunus Musah, Cristian Roldan
Forwards: Jesus Ferreira, Jordan Morris, Christian Pulisic, Gio Reyna, Josh Sargent, Tim Weah, Haji Wright

Group A   |  Ecuador   Senegal   Netherlands  Qatar

Group B  |  Iran  Wales  USA  England 

Group C  |  Mexico  Saudi Arabia  Poland  Argentina 

Group D  |  Tunisia  Denmark  Australia  France

Group E  |  Japan   Germany   Costa Rica   Spain 

Group F  |  Croatia  Morocco  Canada  Belgium 

Group G  |  Cameroon  Switzerland  Serbia  Brazil

Group H  |  South Korea  Uruguay  Ghana  Portugal

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