USMNT Draws Wales/Scotland/Ukraine, England and Iran
Two dream friendly windows:
1) Italy at Meadowlands. 3-5m Italian Americans will make it a less welcoming environment (good for US). Italy gets a massive payday as an enticement (though I suppose they hardly need it). US gets a world class opponent who, with all those Italian Americans watching, will hopefully take the game reasonably seriously. MLS star Lorenzo Insigne. Second game of that window: Poland at Chicago Field. 3m Poles in Chicago + Adam Buksa.
2) Doha Double Header. Iran has played multiple qualifiers in Qatar - add that to thier being the 3rd closet country to the WC stadiums and it is a significant advantage. The young Americans could really use an opportunity to visit Qatar before November. First up: Iraq who played Iran tight in qualifiers (and RSLs Justin Merim) Then perhaps UAE or Saudi Arabia - in a second WC stadium.
BTW I think Iran is a sleeper and a much worse draw than apparent conventional wisdom. In addition to the above factors (a) many of their players are on Qatar club teams - this is quite literally a home tournament for a bunch of them and (b) Iran has a pretty capable center forward, a solid playmaker and stout back line with a great keeper (who holds the world record for throw distance - so far he rarely bothers booting the ball... [Matt Turner might take note: Perhaps a route to improve distribution accuracy and overcome Berhalter's hesitancy).
I think Iran smells a lot like Costa Rica - extremely hard to score on. My prediction is that Iran loses to England 1-0, beats TBD 1-0 and draws the US 0-0. The US could very well have the same win/loss outcome. On the assumption goal differential is the tie breaker then it will be important we avoid a multi-goal loss to England and/or secure a multi goal win v TBD.
Can't complain. Every game will be winnable. Winning the group (and facing the number 2) finisher in Group A will be very important, since the drop off between the Netherlands (likely) and the second place team will be huge.
At least we drew the European playoff as the 4th team rather than Ghana. Another Ghana loss would be a bitter pill.
On paper, I agree that this is one of the best (if not the best) draws the USMNT could have hoped for. Barring major injuries to key players heading into the tournament, the expectation should be for the USMNT to make it out of the group (table stakes) and likely win their first Round of 16 match (table stakes + 1). They might even have a reasonable shot at making it to the Semis. Now I'll be waiting for specific USMNT match times and learning the final WC match venues for the 2026 WC.
What you see this summer from the US is what you’ll get in Qatar. European league break starts on 11/14, and the US plays on 11/21. Not a lot of time for a camp, and NO time for a friendly.
Good news is MLS Cup is 11/5. Bad news is the regular season ends on 10/9. When Gregg gets those guys is TBD, but it’d be nice to keep them sharp.
It’s a group we can get out of.
Poor Peru has to repeat 2018 again. A possible playoff with Australia (3 pts in 2018) followed by France (Pogba said Peru was a super tough team) and Denmark (Cueva gets to avenge his missed penalty).
Long time listener / first time caller. I’d love to see some thoughts on what Berhalter will try to tweak / accomplish between now and then.
Anyone who might emerge that we don’t know about?
What are the fixtures between now and then? I couldn’t find anything on the US Soccer website.
Tie, tie, then white knuckle vs. Iran.
Great analysis. If you get the insights, please share Gregg’s “ action plan” between now and game one. You already mentioned that there is slim chance of a major friendly as a final tune up. ( although wouldn’t Italy always be available?) But how do things play out from here? When are there practices? What does that mean about identifying players who will make the trip? How much flexibility does Gregg have once “ the team” is
identified ( replacements for late-occurring injuries , etc)?
Do you think Iran's proximity to Qatar will give it a significant advantage, either in terms of traveling fans or comfort with the weather?
How is the playoff for the 4th spot going to work and when?
England v USA so excited can’t wait.
Very nice group for the US, and a path into the last eight is possible. I see Group G, as the Group of Death, however, IMHO...
How much power does Fox and whomever broadcasts the matches in the UK have over scheduling? I imagine they would both want the 10p local slot since that means 2p on the east coast and 7p in the UK for the US/England match.