This year’s World Cup is seen as the dress rehearsal for the 2026 World Cup in the States. The current squad is jam-packed with 20-something-year-old talent whose main mission is to gain experience in Qatar. Whereas they didn’t qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, they have shown dominant performances after that, winning many smaller Cups along the way. Still, they qualified in 3rd place, after Canada and Mexico, to this year’s World Cup.
How do they play?
Loyal to their youthfulness, expect to see a fast-paced and aggressive style of play. They have shown prowess in creating chances, yet the finishing touch is oftentimes missing. After Jozy Altidore hung up his boots, the US has yet to find a purebred striker. This has resulted in having fun against weaker teams and struggling against tougher opponents. In 2022, they lost to Japan, Costa Rica, and Canada, and drew with Saudi Arabia, Uruguay, and Mexico. All of them are traveling to the World Cup and the Americans have failed to score a single goal against them.
Why they can win?
Having a young squad always poses some dangers, but when the team gets into gear, they have the potential to accomplish great things. Pulisic is a leader of the highest quality and there are plenty of rough, ambitious, young players beside him, who can make life miserable for England and Wales. As the previous World Cups have proved, the USA is a mentally strong team who will always put up a fight.
Why they can lose?
The squad lacks a clear striker and has trouble with center-backs. One of them will be Nashvilles’ Walker Zimmermann, but who will start next to him? Good options are few and far in between and that’s reason for concern.
The leading stars
Pulisic is a true superstar and is the main reason behind football’s popularisation in America. Therefore, it’s no wonder he is called “Captain America”. Who are the other leaders beside him? In goal, we have Matt Turner (Arsenal), and in front of him Sergino Dest (full-back, Milan), Weston McKennie (midfielder, Juventus) and Giovanni Reyna (winger, Dortmund Borussia).
The fresh faces
Even though all of the US squad can be considered fresh faces, a special spotlight should go to the 19-year-old Ricardo Pepi, who is the closest thing they have to a pure no. 9. The young lad is on loan from Augsburg to Groningen and by the end of October, he has already scored 5 goals in 6 league matches.
Update Nov 1oth. Pepi has been snubbed from the World Cup squad. Coach Berhalter opting to bring Jesus Ferreira, Josh Sargent and Haji Wright at the striker position, due to their physicality and a feeling that Eredivisie isn’t on par with other leagues.