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How many times have USMNT qualified for the Round of 16 of the World Cup? What is their record?

With the USA moving into the Round of 16 to face the Netherlands, we take a look at how many times they have been here in the past

With the USA moving into the Round of 16 to face the Netherlands, we take a look at how many times they have been here in the past
Marvin Ibo Guengoer - GES SportfotoGetty

The United States have managed a decent showing in the Group B matches, eking out two draws against England and Wales, and putting up a quality, if sometimes shaky, 1-0 win against Iran. This marks the sixth visit to the World Cup for the Iranians and they have yet to make it out of the group stage.

But what about the US? How have they traditionally fared?

In a nation that is famously truculent when it comes to the beautiful game, often fomenting the view that they ignore soccer altogether, it is perhaps surprising that the United States has appeared in half of all the World Cups ever. Of 22 competitions that have been held to date, the USA has qualified for 11.

A strong start for the Americans

The United States made an opening statement during the first ever World Cup back in 1930 by making it to the semi-finals, where they lost to Argentina. During that campaign in Montevideo, they managed to top their group and American forward Bert Patenaude notched up the first hat-trick in World Cup history.

After two more World Cup appearances, the United States had a long Cold War era drought where they failed to qualify for nine competitions in a row, not appearing again on the big stage until the 1990 festivities in Italy.

In the three decades since, the United States have appeared at all but one World Cups, failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia. From a nation who fielded a force to be reckoned with in 1930, down to the nadir of mass soccer indifference, Uncle Sam has now come back full circle, with the current squad being ranked 13th in the world by FIFA. At the time of writing, they sit above Germany, Mexico, and Colombia in FIFA’s table, having climbed three notches since the start of Qatar’s proceedings.

In their 11 World Cup appearances, the United States has made it to the Round of 16 six times. There is, of course, an asterisk in there, since the second World Cup changed the competition’s format, with the 1934 edition in Italy doing away with groups and only qualifying 16 teams to start with.

Only twice has the US advanced beyond this first knockout round, with that semi-finals appearance in 1930 and then again in Japan/South Korea 2002 when they lost to Germany in the quarter-finals.

Here is a stat for you. With 11 of 22 World Cups qualified for, and of those 11 appearances, they made it to the Round of 16. The US are two of six when it comes to advancing beyond that level. If the US can make it beyond the Netherlands on Saturday, they will maintain their 50% historical average. Who says math can’t be fun?


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