USMNT poised for an important step forward in 2022

The US Men’s National Team (USMNT) had an amazing 2021. They won two trophies, beating Mexico both times, and made a good impression in World Cup Qualifying. The goal for the USMNT in 2021 was to win the Nations League, the Gold Cup, and finish the year in first or second place in the World Cup Qualifying. This team achieved all its goals! Now in 2022, the USMNT is poised for an important step forward to show the rest of the world that they are a force to be reckoned with.

USMNT Wins Gold Cup
PARADISE, NV – AUGUST 01: United States midfielder Sebastian Lletget (17) lifts the trophy to celebrate after winning the CONCACAF Gold Cup 2021 final match between Mexico and United States at Allegiant Stadium on August 1, 2021 in Las Vegas, NV. (Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire)

An important step forward in 2022

The USMNT’s first six games of 2022 are the final six in the World Cup Qualifying. After playing their first eight in 2021, and taking 15 points from a possible 24, the USA sits in second place in the octagonal standings. The focus is firmly set on these last six games in qualifying to start 2022. They’ll need to build off of their momentum from 2021; to do so, they will have to exorcise their past demons as well.

The 2018 World Cup qualifying cycle is still fresh in the minds of US Soccer fans. Their failure to secure a draw on the final day at already eliminated Trinidad and Tobago was an embarrassment that sent US Soccer into a major decline. For two full years, the USMNT lacked identity and the drive that made them fun to watch in the past. Their historic 2021 run was able to bring that back and set up the next step forward, getting back to the World Cup in 2022.

A historic 2021 run

It’s hard to fully state how important 2021 was for the USMNT. They came into the year with a chance to make the leaps and bounds that they achieved but had to work extremely hard and execute in order for it to actually happen. The USA finished 2021 with 17 wins, two losses, and three draws. One of those losses was a friendly in Switzerland, and the other was a tough match in World Cup Qualifying to Panama; the three draws were also in World Cup qualifying as those matches ramp up the intensity.

2021 saw the USMNT play in five elimination matches in tournaments. They won all five of them and outscored their opponents seven-to-two; those two goals were in the Nation’s League Final where the USA won in thrilling fashion 3-2 after extra time. The 2021 team had the best goals-against average (.54,) best goal differential (+34,) and best winning percentage (.841.) This is a good team, and also a fun team again.

The amount of fun had by the young core of USMNT players on the pitch, is a testament to the coaching staff allowing the players to play a style that suits their playing style. In turn, it created attractive soccer that fans could be proud of, and have fun watching as well.

Six World Cup Qualifiers left ahead of Qatar 2022

Now that we’re all hyped up it’s time to look forward to the step forward that this team can make in 2022. It’s all steam ahead to the final six World Cup Qualifiers. The USMNT has called in some domestic-based players for a January Camp to evaluate some players on the fringes of breaking through to the squad. As we approach the end of the month, the European players will come over to get ready for an important three-game stretch to end the first month of 2022. Here’s a look at the first three-game gauntlet.

  • vs El Salavador – Thursday, Jan. 27
  • @ Canada – Sunday, Jan. 30
  • vs Honduras – Wednesday, Feb. 2

The USMNT will be looking to win at home and push for points on the road in this stretch. That would give them seven more points, putting the USMNT on 22 points through 11 games. That’s a two-points-per-game average which would be very helpful, and help this team stay in the top three in the standings which are the coveted automatic qualifying spots heading into the final three matches. The final three matches might be some of the hardest facing the USMNT in this qualifying cycle.

  • @ Mexico – Thursday, Mar. 24
  • vs Panama – Sunday, Mar. 27
  • @ Costa Rica – Wednesday Mar. 30

The USMNT finish their 2022 World Cup qualifying with two very difficult road matches and a home match against the only team that has beaten the USA in this qualifying cycle. The USMNT’s chances at finishing the top three likely rides on their results in these matches. They will need to stick to the tried-and-true qualifying formula of “win at home, draw on the road.” If the USMNT could take five points from these last three matches, they could finish qualifying with 27 points out of a possible 42 points. Would this be enough to qualify for Qatar 2022?

It’s time for USMNT to take that next step

It should be! These six games are so, so important to the USMNT. Their progress made in 2021 made it so that they are closer to their ultimate goal of getting back to the Men’s World Cup. The important next step will be by taking one of the top-three auto-qualifying spots after these last six matches. The first three are fast approaching, as we’re just two-and-a-half weeks away from the USA’s first match of 2022!

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Mandatory Credit: Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire

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