The USA is usually seen as an easy opponent on the international stage. Indeed, the USMNT has only made the semi-finals once, way back in 1930. Things could be changing, though, as there are now many promising soccer players emerging from the country. Several of these are gaining vital experience in the top leagues of Europe and could be difference-makers in the upcoming tournament in Qatar.
The question is, will the USMNT be able to emerge as one of the surprise challengers in the winter with one of the players cementing their status as a national legend in the process? Or do these starlets need a bit more time to come of age?
Pulisic Will be a Hugely Important Asset for USMNT
When it comes to USA’s chances in Qatar, none of the bookies are rating them highly. The usual suspects can be found at the top of the betting markets, with Brazil placed at +450 and France at +550 at the time of writing. Indeed, the USA can be backed at +10,000 with 888sport, meaning that if they end up pulling off a surprise win, bettors could reap the rewards. However, this is a risky option, as evidenced by the odds.
Bettors can make use of a variety of welcome bonuses at major bookmakers and offers tailored around the World Cup are likely to become popular at the latter end of 2022. Sites such as SportsBettingOnline allow bettors to find the promotions most suited to them, with some of the options including cashback promos and deposit matches. By providing ratings and looking at factors such as the customer support options, the legwork is done for consumers so they can access the information all in one place.
There’s no doubt that Pulisic is the star man for the USMNT, and the Chelsea icon has the potential to make a difference in Qatar. Thomas Tuchel is blessed with a wealth of talent at Stamford Bridge, but the consensus is that the American has sky-high potential and Forbes noted back in 2019 that he was the closest contender to filling the gaping hole left by Eden Hazard, although that hasn’t transpired.
The main problem for Pulisic is his injury record, which has led to Tuchel figuring out other solutions in the attack. Since joining Chelsea in 2019, Chelsea’s number 10 has spent a whopping 354 days on the sidelines in total. The 23-year-old will have to fight to stake his claim in the Blues’ starting XI this season to get the form and conditioning he needs to shine at the World Cup.
Up-and-Coming Stars Could Become Household Names
The great news for USA fans this year is that they’re not just relying on one key player to provide the cutting edge. There are a few up-and-coming starlets that could grasp the opportunity to fire the USA forward and become household names in the process.
There will doubtlessly be a lot of eyes on Brenden Aaronson in the season ahead, with the player now having completed his move to the Premier League with Leeds United. The 21-year-old has established himself as a mainstay on Gregg Berhalter’s team sheet, and the ‘Medford Messi’ is expected to play a crucial role in Jesse Marsch’s side as well.
Another player who could become a legend in Qatar is Weston McKennie. The 23-year-old has been pulling the strings in the center of the park for the USA and Juventus, and he’s added that much-needed spark in so many games to date.
His versatility will also be key, and he has been compared to the likes of Edgar Davids and Arturo Vidal in the past. Tyler Adams adds to the control in midfield, meaning that the USA is unlikely to be overrun in that position. Indeed, other teams in Group B will be fearful about coming up against these players.
Adams could benefit greatly from his recent move to Leeds to join up with Aaronson and Marsch. The defensive midfielder has managed to cut it in the German Bundesliga for the last three seasons, and he has racked up 75 appearances for RB Leipzig. The German top flight is considered to be one of the best leagues in Europe, but it still can’t compare to the quality of the Premier League. Playing against some of the world’s best sides in Manchester City, Liverpool, and Chelsea week in, week out, will do wonders for the 23-year-old, who has the potential to grow a lot in the next few years.
Oh, and there’s Timothy Weah to watch out for as well. The 22-year-old forward is the son of Ballon d’Or winner, George Weah, who won it back in 1995, although it would be surprising to see him win the award even though the Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo era is coming to an end, as covered here on Atlanta News. He’s already made 25 appearances for the USMNT and is expected to play a big part in the upcoming tournament.
USA Have a Favorable Group
The USA have been placed in Group B for the tournament in Qatar, and this will pit them against Wales, Iran, and England. The Three Lions are favorites to win the group, but many would say that the USMNT is the strongest of the other three sides. Indeed, when assessing the odds on the group, sportsbooks have found it hard to separate the USA and Wales. Wales have the star power in Gareth Bale, but the USNMT is the more cohesive team unit.
If the USA manage to get out of the group and into the knockout stages, they will face much stiffer competition in these rounds. For such a young group of players with little experience playing in major tournaments, it may be hard for them to progress through the latter stages of the cup. However, they should use this as a chance to gain some vital experience before the next tournament in four years. By that time, a lot of these players will be at their peak. Consider the fact that they’ll be playing on home turf in 2026, and pundits will give them a much stronger chance of success.
USA fans have a lot to be excited about in the World Cup, with numerous young stars beginning to make names for themselves on the continent. Still, this tournament may come too soon for these starlets, who could end up becoming a formidable unit by the 2026 World Cup in North America.