United States Men’s National Team:Will the team qualify for The FIFA World Cup
Matt Besler sits on the field after the USMNT failed to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
The United States Men’s National Team (USMNT) failed to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup that was held in Russia. The USMNT lost to Trinidad & Tobago on the final day of qualifying, needing a win to get into a Playoff match up. That team didn’t deserve to get into the World Cup. The team fielded a roster with predominantly MLS players and aging veterans, to go with a coach who, domestically and previously for the team, was great. He relied too heavily on Clint Dempsey, Tim Howard, Brad Guzan, Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley, the aging stars of yesteryear. Nobody can take away what these players had meant to the team in years prior, or even the matches leading up to the fateful rainy game in Trinidad. Whether it was a waterlogged field that the game was played on or any other outside factors, the team came up short.
Gregg Berhlater, left, has taken the USMNT program to a new level since taking over in 2018
This time around the team will have a new coach in Gregg Berhalter, a grizzled former player who was known for his no-nonsense approach to playing defense. Berhalter has effectively moved away from fringe MLS based players and has the core of his roster in Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie, Tyler Adams, Sergiño Dest and Zac Steffan. All play in Europe with top teams in their respective leagues, they all are on teams currently playing in the best club competition, the EUFA Champions League.
This is why the USMNT will qualify for the world cup and be a competitive team for years to come. Gone are players who are content with just showing up and playing. The players Berhalter selects for the World Cup are players who are hungry. These players are getting better because when they are with their clubs, they are playing with and competing against the best players in the world. The competition for playing time is similar to the way Berhalter played the game; Win, Play Hard and never settle for second best.
Watching the USMNT now compared to before Berhalter took over is night and day. When the USMNT has played recently, they have made fewer errors and capitalized on their opponent’s errors. The players seem to play with urgency and venom in their attacks, they look like they are playing hard and not just going through the motions. The USMNT need to qualify for the World Cup this time around or face even more backlash from the fans that love this game and want to see it grow more in the states. It starts in September, and I expect the USMNT to come out and show the world that this team is ready.