Friday, November 18, 2022

Analyzing the USMNT’s Group Fixtures for the 2022 World Cup

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By The Capital Sports Report Staff

They huffed and puffed to get there, but the US Men’s National team will join 31 other nations in the World Cup finals later this month. The tournament represents an interesting one for the US, particularly as this might be the strongest ever squad the United States has taken to a finals.

That might sound fanciful, given qualification was a bit messy, but we know the talent that head coach Gregg Berhalter has at his disposal. The squad has more players playing Champions League – the pinnacle of club competition – than ever before.

Christian Pulisic (Photo by Christian Pulisic/Instagram)

In addition, this is an intriguing tournament because of what comes after – the 2026 World Cup. Of course, no team goes into a tournament thinking about what comes four years down the line, but the tantalizing prospect of building a team that can compete at a ‘home’ tournament in 2026 must be close to the forefront of the management’s minds.

Regardless of what it means for 2026, the USMNT will want to put on a good show in Qatar. To be frank, it’s highly unlikely that they will return with a trophy, with football betting markets putting the odds at 100/1 or above. But a strong performance is certainly possible.

The first order of business will be getting out of Group B. The top two teams will qualify, and that usually means at least four points are required for qualification – a win and a draw from three games.

Not out of the realms of possibility at all for this team. But where will they pick up those points? Let’s look at the three fixtures:

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Wales – November 21st

USA’s opening match is a tough one to call. According to the current betting, the USMNT is slightly favored to win – but only just.

Wales is an interesting side, made up of young talent and experienced journeymen. Many of the squad represent teams from the EFL Championship and League 1, i.e., the divisions below the Premier League.

They do have a good work ethic, though, and play as a cohesive unit under coach Rob Page. They also have a talisman, Gareth Bale.

The fomer Real Madrid man might not be the boy wonder he once was, but he tends to raise his game when playing for his country. His fitness could be a deal-breaker in this tie.

Our prediction: Draw

England – November 25th

We probably don’t need to say that this is the toughest fixture that the US will face in Group B. For years, England had a reputation for choking in big tournaments, and the 3 Lions have actually never beaten the USA in World Cup competition, losing (famously) when they met in 1950 and drawing in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

However, this is a different England team, one with a greater sense of purpose under Gareth Southgate. England reached the Semi-Finals of the 2018 World Cup and the Final of Euro 2020. They are one of the best teams in the world.

Even if the US performs at its best, it might not be enough.

Our Prediction: England Win

Joe Scallt plays the ball against Saudi Arabia (Photo by USA Men’s National Soccer Team/Instagram)

Iran – November 29th

This is probably going to be the most heavily-scrutinized fixture for non-footballing reasons, but aside from the politics, we are looking at two decent sides. As with the Wales game, the US is favored to win with sportsbooks, although one would suggest that Iran is a tougher prospect than what many think.

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Still, this could turn out to be a must-win fixture for Berhalter’s team, and you’d like to think that the players will be up for it. It will be up to players like Weston McKennie and Christian Pulisic to show their class, and we think that they will on this grand stage.

Our Prediction: USA Win and qualify in second place in Group B.

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Anthony Caruso III
Anthony Caruso IIIhttps://thecapitalsportsreport.com
Anthony Caruso III is the Publisher of The Capital Sports Report. He has been in the sports journalism field since 2002 and has covered numerous high-profile events, including 11 Heisman Trophy ceremonies.
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