Up until 2018, modern US national football was used to competing at World Cups. With historic players like Alexi Lallas, John Harkes, Kasey Keller, Clint Dempsey and Brandon Donovan, they built teams that impressed at World Cups between 1990 and 2014.
But failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup rocked the confidence of US men’s football. Now, can a hugely talented group of players play to their potential and restore national pride at the 2022 World Cup?
Latest USA odds
USA National Football Team: Tactics, Principles
The USA team uses a 4-3-3 formation, with Berhalter modelling his system on that of Liverpool’s – attacking full backs, three hard working midfielders and three attackers who press high up the pitch. The high press is key and, when it works, the US pin their opponents back and dominate.
That’s when it works. Because Berhalter has come under plenty of criticism for the team’s rigid play and lack of quick thinking. But the 4-3-3 seems to be the best way to accommodate Weston McKennie, Yunus Musah, and Tyler Adams – three extremely talented central midfielders – while giving star player Christian Pulisic freedom to attack.
World Cup. PREDICTIONS & What to Expect?
The USA’s failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup – after qualifying for the previous seven FIFA World Cups (1990-2014) – highlights how much pressure they are under to succeed this time round.
Bet365 has the USA at 100/1 to win the World Cup. It’s a decent outside bet, as the USA team definitely has lots of potential, with some borderline world class players. If they are to go far in the tournament, they’ll need to score more goals – getting Christian Pulisic back to his best will be crucial. Whatever happens, coach Gregg Berhalter should look to settle young talented players into the team, giving them the experience to go even further at the home 2026 World Cup.
USA National Team: Top 5 Players
The USA team is full of talented players, with a good mix of young attacking talent and more experienced players at the back. Let’s take a look at the key men whose performances will make or break the USA’s chances at the Qatar World Cup.
The out and out star of the USA team, Chelsea’s Christian Pulisic has got the potential to become a World Class footballer. His skill, creativity, pace and goal scoring ability make him a handful for opposition defences.
Pulisic’s best position is left wing, although he’s sometimes used as a ‘false 9’. Still only 22, he carries the hopes of the USA team and, if he shows his best form at the tournament, they could certainly spring a surprise.
Juventus midfielder Weston McKennie has got everything. Pace, power, strength, skill, passing and tackling ability, composure… you name it. He even scores goals. McKennie’s played as a centre back, a striker and now he’s settled as a midfielder – it’s definitely his most effective position for the USA.
His energy and versatility is key to Berhalter’s 4-3-3 system, as is the 23-year old’s infectious energy and team spirit in the dressing room
Another of the USA’s young stars who is making a name for himself in Europe, Sergiño Dest is developing as a hugely promising attacking right back at Barcelona. A blend of pace, skill and defensive discipline makes him a very special talent and his overlapping runs down the right will be key for the USA at the upcoming World Cup.
Still young, he’s destined to be a very important player for the USA for years to come.
Dortmund teammate Erling Haaland described him as ‘the American Dream.” Son of former USA team stars Clauio and Danielle Egan Reyna, Gio Reyna has everything it takes to be a world class player. While this World Cup might be too soon for him to announce himself as a genuine star, the attacking midfielder will definitely be a key player for the USA.
A pass master who’s an expert at finding space then delivering a killer through ball, Reyna has pace, skill and is starting to add finishing ability to his wide range of attributes. To top it off, he’s got that fiery side that gives him an extra edge.
The Nashville SC centre back and current MLS defender of the year is the USA national team’s vice captain. He’s strong in the air, both in defence and as an attacking threat from set pieces – Zimmerman has scored an impressive 18 goals so far in his MLS career.
After forcing his way into the starting eleven during the CONCACAF qualifying campaign, Zimmerman looks set to be a key presence in the USA defence for the forthcoming World Cup
Who is the USA’s football manager?
Gregg Berhalter is quite a divisive figure in the States. He came under fire for claiming the USA were dominant in their 2-0 defeat to Canada during the CONCACAF qualifier. And his mid-game selfies with fans have drawn mockery from football pundits around the world.
But having already played in two World Cups, Berhalter has big tournament experience. This will be crucial when it comes to getting the best out of this extremely talented group of young players.