The USMNT got punished by the Netherlands in a 3-1 loss, and the aftermath mixed regrets over missed opportunities and excitement for World Cup 2026 at home.
Time to hold the complexity. The US was at a talent deficit and had some serious lapses on defense. But I think it's huge that the expected goals were so even-- and remember, the US would have had an advantage until that third goal when they were stretched and trying to equalize.
This team will probably be better in every phase of the game at the next one. And they will have had another 3.5 years to practice, playing together, and figure out what works best for the talent available. I'm beyond excited for it!
Thanks so much, Grant, for adding so much to this cycle!
Unless we get some
Brilliant young players ( like an MBappe) or some of our current team members blossom, having the WC in North America will have no impact. This team cannot finish, is indecisive ( often we dribble or pass our way out of quality shots), and regards set pieces as an annoyance. I watch some of the shots taken from well outside the box today by France and Poland ( rockets on frame ) and think of our outside shots ( either easy, dribbling ground balls or twenty stories over the frame). We do not have finishers. We won’t get any better just by the passage of time. We need better talent. I think you are being far too kind . But I am frustrated
"Rohrshach test"...great words here. A nice summary of an exciting (yet disappointing) 2022, with an exciting hope for 2026! Thanks for your great work, Grant!
Once again, great job, Grant. And thanks for the shout-out to Tim Ream, a true marvel for the US this World Cup.
I think Berhalter has done an excellent job. He oversaw a generational shift in the men's team. We now have promising young players in a range of positions who are only going to get better (strike excepted, but the US has always been terrible at generating world class strikers). While shifting that generation, he got us qualified for the World Cup after the failure of 2018. He's got a four game unbeaten streak going against our main CONCACAF rivals (3 wins, 1 draw against Mexico, if I looked at the results table correctly). We got out of the group at the World Cup with 2/3 solid performances (England & Iran) and then got comprehensively handled by a much better team.
The main complaint about his coaching has been not using Gio Reyna. When Reyna came in against Denmark, he did absolutely nada.
Berhalter has been solid.
I think about this group compared to our 1994 and 2002 group: both of which could be considered to have changed the way our country and fans see our USMNT and the sport.
In 1998 and 2006 we fell far short of expectations. In 1998 especially we reportedly had a toxic environment within the squad.
I think a big key to building on the 2022 performance is to preserve team chemistry and harmony. In my opinion Gregg prioritized unity and harmony and a family atmosphere within the squad, not just at the World Cup but during qualifying and other tournaments as well. Whether it’s Gregg or someone else, we need to make sure we keep our core players together, happy, and motivated as best we can.
I’m hopeful for 2026, but a little fearful that history may repeat itself if we’re not mindful throughout the next 3 1/2 years. I have faith that our player leaders (Weston, Tyler, CP, Matt, Walker) will prevent that from happening.
This team had NO experience. The only meaningful games have been against CONCACAF opposition, which just isn’t good enough for World Cup prep. They even had to split the squad to play in the nations league and the Gold Cup. The late friendlies against Japan and the Saudis exposed some weaknesses, but there was no time to really fix anything. GOT to get into a Copa for ‘26.
Exactly what I was referring to on one of our zoom calls:
My 🇺🇸 sadness still lingers. Like an ambient regret. But at the same time, the most optimistic I have ever been about the state of the game. Just need to keep growing, which as we all know takes time in this sport. In the end, very very proud of our team.
When the xG is different from the goals, there are two things that might happen. If goals are higher than xG, maybe you have a figure who can convert xG into G at a high rate (like Messi). When goals are lower than xG, probably you got defended. In this case, when the two xGs are so close together but the score isn’t, seems like that means Netherlands had a much better defense than we had. Which, you know, we all saw with our own eyes. So while we need that center-forward we’ve all been talking about all year, we also need a better defense -- better personnel, better training, I dunno, but something.
Fantastic summary of where we have been and we are going. Thanks for yet another interesting and insightful article.
If you watched France v Poland today, you saw players hit long strikes on frame. MBappe’s third goal in upper right corner, for example. If McKinnie had that opportunity ( or anyone but Weah…. Who has a fine shot), it would sail 20 stories over the crossbar. We aren’t good enough. At the World Cup, plays have to be made, and the US almost never makes them. That’s why we are at home now eating hamburgers. Until we have better players, nothing will change. We can’t count on goals emerging out of chaos and scrambles, own goals, etc. We need players who can hit a strike where the goalie can’t reach it. We hit them straight into the goalies ‘ chests.
This core roster (I'm talking Pulisic, McKennie, Adams, Turner, Musah, etc.) bodes well for 2026. They seem to have chemistry and...really care and...fight for one another. These are qualities/mentality that help the women's team, so it'll be cool to see them older and more experienced. Pulisic needs to leave Chelsea, unfortunately!! I remember '94 and it was super exciting then. 2026 is going to be...fun for sure.