Team U.S. in quicksand?

The+World+Cup+starts+for+the+U.S.+on+Nov.+21+against+Wales.

Bella Ruzicka

The World Cup starts for the U.S. on Nov. 21 against Wales.

*opinions

From the hand of God to the Zidane headbutt, the FIFA World Cup has brought some of the most memorable moments in sports history for non-America. After missing out on the World Cup in 2018, the U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team (USMNT) is back to compete in this year’s World Cup in Qatar. But to be honest, I don’t expect the U.S. to make it far.

This November marks the 22nd World Cup, and the first to be hosted in the winter instead of the summer. The World Cup starts with 32 teams being placed into eight groups of four. After playing each other once, the top two teams from each group advance to a single-game elimination bracket. Qatar is a controversial host this year both for their human rights abuses, and bribery of FIFA officials which is probably why they have a World Cup.

The U.S. is back in the competition after the 2018 failure in World Cup Qualifying, that shook this country to the core. Head Coach Greg Berhalter will hope to succeed with a young team full of talent, but almost no World Cup experience. But this World Cup is not gonna be a pretty one for team U.S.

I want the U.S. to succeed. I really do. But it’s not gonna happen. I had a lot of hope earlier this year, when the U.S. put on good performances against Uruguay and Morocco, two quality teams. But after the U.S. lost 2-0 to Japan, a team ranked 24th in the world by FIFA, and tied Saudi Arabia, a team ranked 65th, my hopes diminished. This may be one of the most talented groups of players the U.S. men’s team has had, possibly reaching the levels of the women’s team. But after showing inconsistency in performances, this team is too young to get past the first round. 

Lack of experience isn’t the only issue: The U.S. has been grouped with difficult opponents. The U.S. was put in Group B, where all four teams are ranked in the top 20: England 5th, U.S. 16th, Wales 19th and Iran 20th. 

The U.S. has been grouped with difficult opponents. The U.S. was put in Group B, where all four teams are ranked in the top 20: England 5th, U.S. 16th, Wales 19th and Iran 20th. ”

The U.S. will start the World Cup against Wales who reached the competition for the first time since 1958. That game is at 2 p.m. Nov. 21, with 2:21 being the ratio of humans to sheep in Wales. England is next and will be the toughest opponent in the group for the U.S.. While it’s a tough game, handing England their biggest L since Queen Lizzy died would be a dream come true. That game is at 2 p.m. Nov. 25. Finally, the U.S. plays Iran who were undefeated through World Cup Qualifying. That game is at 2 p.m. Nov. 29 and political tensions could make fans go nuclear. While all teams have their weaknesses, the U.S. will need to play at their best to have a chance against these teams. 

The biggest issue with the U.S. is their lack of a spine, or lack of a striker, central midfielder, center-backs and goalkeeper. When it comes to the central midfielder, the U.S. has a good quality option in Tyler Adams, but not much else. Weston Mckennie or Yunus Musah could be moved into the central defensive role Adams plays, but it’s not their main position and would take away their ability from other parts of the pitch. 

For center-backs, the U.S. has Walker Zimmerman, who does a great job, but he doesn’t have a definite partner. Aaron Long has occasionally looked good, but is too inconsistent. Other options, like Cameron Carter-Vickers or Chris Richards, have had injury issues or failed to impress on the pitch. 

It’s here that we get to the two biggest questions for the U.S. team: Who will fail at striker and play in goal when the World Cup kicks off? Jesus Ferreira seems the most likely candidate at striker, but Ferreira only scored once in six World Cup Qualfying games for the U.S., which leaves the door open for strikers like Ricardo Pepi, Haji Wright and Josh Sargent. Goalkeeper Matt Turner is the likely option in goal but has spent most of the club season on the bench at Arsenal, a personal choice, for some reason. This gives goalkeepers like Zach Steffen, Ethan Horvath and Sean Johnson a chance at his spot. While it’s nice to have options, consistent goals and saves are important for a team to do well in the World Cup. The uncertainty could hurt the U.S. in November. 

It’s here that we get to the two biggest questions for the U.S. team: Who will fail at striker and play in goal when the World Cup kicks off?”

While it sounds all doom and gloom, the U.S. does have some things in their favor. From the team being composed of a talented, young and hungry group to this being one of the weirdest and most controversial World Cups to date, anything can happen. That’s the magic of the World Cup. But if the USMNT performs badly it’s only eight months until the Women’s World Cup, so we won’t have to wait long for a U.S. team that can actually win.