What are the USMNT’s chances at World Cup 2022?

With a World Cup to host (or co-host) in 2026, and with the failure to even qualify in 2018 ringing in their ears, the pressure is on for the USMNT. Having come through a tight qualifying group – three points separated first-placed Canada from Costa Rica who finished fourth and now face a play-off to even qualify – Gregg Berhalter’s men are now counting down to Qatar.

For fans of the national team, its skeptics, and those in between just looking to bet online on the big event, there are a few big questions to answer. The team are not in what would be considered an upswing, and there is a feeling Berhalter might be managing for his future in the head coach’s role. We don’t yet know the exact identity of all of the teams the team will face in the pool stages, but the expectation will be that they at least qualify for the second round, so the pressure will be on right from the start.

What would be a success for the USMNT at this tournament?

We’ll know a bit more by the end of this week who exactly is joining the team in Group B. We know England and Iran are already confirmed, and Scotland are playing Ukraine, with the winners playing Wales for the fourth and final spot. FIFA rankings and a lighter schedule point to Wales as favorites, but the teams are close enough in quality that it matters little. 

The USMNT will be doing OK if they can beat Iran and pick up enough points elsewhere that they finish above the unidentified European side. They can’t expect to beat or finish above England, and that’s not pessimism, just realism. A second-place finish would mean they then faced the winners of Group A. That’s probably Holland, who are excellent on their day, but flaky enough that a fair wind could see Berhalter’s side repeat their 2002 achievement of making the quarter-finals. There, it’s probably France and au revoir to further progress.

What are the odds on winning it all?

If you mean that question illustratively, ha ha ha ha ha. If you mean literally, we’re talking +10000. The oddsmakers have this team on a par with Poland or Mexico to lift the trophy; frankly, the best hope is a decent run and the beginnings of a solid base to make the most of home advantage in four years’ time. Again, that’s not pessimism talking; this isn’t a vintage USMNT, and that’s OK. Plenty of Portuguese fans will be having the same conversation, because they’re good but just not good enough.

What would be a humiliation?

If Berhalter is a realist, he’ll be hoping that his charges don’t end up bottom of the group, that they get a win over Iran, and that a lack of tactical versatility isn’t shown up too badly by an England side hoping to build on a European Championship final appearance last year. The fitness of Chelsea’s Christian Pulisic will be key to a positive outcome; he’s good enough to play for most European national sides and could be a difference-maker against Iran and To Be Confirmed.

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