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Soccer

World Cup 2022: A look at the USMNT opponents

The US Men’s National Soccer Team is headed to Qatar after losing to Trinidad and Tobago over four years ago and missing out on the 2018 World Cup.

Update:

The painful memories of the loss to Trinidad and Tobago that kept the US Men’s National Soccer Team out of the 2018 World Cup can finally be replaced with newer, happier memories. In November, the USMNT is heading to Qatar. They finished off their international window and World Cup preparations with a tie against El Salvador. The 16 European players now have their Summer vacation while the 10 MLS players prepare for the mid-season. The USMNT has two more games to go in the September friendlies in Europe before the start of the World Cup to prepare themselves. There, they will play against Asian opposition.

Who are the USMNT’s opponents in the World Cup?

The USA will be in Group B with England, Wales, and Iran. They kick things off with Wales on November 21. Game 2 will be against England on November 25 and Game 3 will be against Iran on November 29. All games are scheduled for 2 p.m. ET.

To advance from Group B to the knockout stage, the USMNT will have to be one of the top two teams in the group. Three points are awarded for wins, one for ties, and none for losses. FIFA’s latest international ranking of the qualified nations (released March 31) have England ranked the highest of the four teams, at No. 5. USA is next at No. 13, then Wales at No. 18 and Iran at No. 21.

How does the USMNT fare against its Group B opponents?

USMNT vs Wales

The USMNT and Wales have only met twice, in international friendlies in 2003 and 2020. The USA won in 2003, 2-0. In 2020, it ended in a scoreless tie. Wales has not made it to a World Cup since 1958, but the current team has gained valuable experience throughout the last two European Championship games. History is on the US’ side, but the two teams are only three spots from each other in the ranking, so it should be a pretty even match.

USMNT vs England

These two teams have met much more frequently - 11 times total. Eight of those were friendlies, all of which England won. Two were in the World Cup, one of which the US won (1950) and one which ended in a 1-1 tie (2010). And one was in the US Cup, which USA won 2-0. In the 2010 World Cup match with England, it was the USMNT who led in goals scored in the group, putting them in first place heading to the knockout stage. Ranked at No. 5, England is the favorite to win Group B as well as the World Cup. It will be a difficult matchup for USA.

USMNT vs Iran

The USMNT and Iran have met only twice - once in a friendly and once in a World Cup. The World Cup was in 1998 and USA lost 2-1. In 2000, the two met again in a friendly, which ended in a 1-1 tie. History does not favor the US here, but they have advanced to the knockout stage in three of their four World Cups since 1998. Iran has never made it out of the first round in all five of their attempts. The US will need a win against Iran as the two European groups will pose more of a challenge for them.

What happens if the USMNT does escape Group B?

The USMNT, if they finish in the top two, would likely finish second, which would mean they would play the first place winner from Group A. Group A consists of host Qatar, the Netherlands, Senegal, and Ecuador. Since it is the host group, there are no top-tier teams, which is good for the USMNT, who has not reached the quarterfinals in the World Cup since 2002 - the only time they ever have. If the US somehow win Group B, they would face the runner-up in Group A.

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