The 2022 FIFA Men’s World Cup is nearly here and that means we soon get to cheer on the United States Men’s National Team as they hope to make it out of the group stage.
The United States kicks off its action in Group B as they face Wales on November 21. Former New England Revolution goalkeeper Matt Turner is slated to get all the starts in net as the USMNT hopes to advance out of the group.
With that in mind, the staff of The Bent Musket wants to give their bold predictions before the action kicks off in Qatar.
Sam - The United States won’t lose a game
As long as Gregg Berhalter doesn’t mess things up, the USMNT has a strong group. Christian Pulisic, Tyler Adams, Brenden Aaronson, and Matt Turner will head up the Premier League talent that Berhalter has at his disposal. It’s likely that a majority, if not all of these players will find their way into the starting XI.
A main reason for my optimism is the fact that Turner is in net. He can win games for teams and is the best shot stopper that the United States has. With Walker Zimmerman and Aaron Long looking as if they could be the starting center back pairing, Turner will have some help but will also likely need to bail out his teammates. Particularly Sergino Dest and DeAndre Yedlin who like to get forward and join up on the attack.
But even if the United States are unable to secure a win against the likes of Wales and England, Turner should ensure that they get at least one point out of the match.
Seth-Aaronson will be a breakout star
Aaronson’s ability to press is seen on a weekly basis. In fact, it’s the reason why he collected his first Premier League goal on Aug. 21.
Brenden Aaronson’s pressing gives him his first goal in the premier league! pic.twitter.com/4SAIWL9vZl— USMNT (@USMNTTAKES) August 21, 2022
Aaronson can also create opportunities with his passing. This was seen this weekend when Aaronson set up Leeds’ opening goal against Tottenham.
Aaronson isn’t considered a World Cup starter by most pundits. but it wouldn’t surprise me if he gets significant minutes. While Berhalter loves playing out of the back and using the ball to disorganize opponents, the USMNT are now on the world’s biggest stage. It wouldn’t surprise me if the team played with more urgency.
Aaronson has the gritty, never-say-die attitude that national team fans know well. He could be in line for a breakout tournament.
Jake: Non-strikers will score goals at the #9 position than the actual strikers
I’m going to expand on this in my full USMNT preview later in the week, but the gist of this concept is that the Berhalter’s tactical system doesn’t get the lone striker involved enough to effect the game. If we count Jesus Ferreira, Haji Wright, and Josh Sargent as the actual strikers...I think Christian Pulisic and Tim Weah will score more goals operating as the #9 then the actual #9 group listed above. Jordan Morris might steal a goal from the #9 spot as well but I’m counting him primarily as a winger even though I think he does second striker really well.
I know Tim Weah is listed as a striker, but he played right-back for Lille over the weekend and as far as I can remember, hasn’t played much in the middle for the USA. For a team that has struggled to get production out of the #9 spot, I think both CP and Weah should see time in the middle of the field as a lone false nine and have advocated playing CP there for months as I think it’s wasteful to put your best central creative player out wide given the talent the US has at those positions.
Gregg Berhalter has a lot of talent at his disposal and I think a lot of his best lineups are going to have a combination of Gio Reyna, Aaronson, CP, and Weah across the top three. It’s the World Cup, get your best players on the field and let them play.
Josh - The United States finish dead last in Group B
Individual talent is abundant in this US squad, yet there were moments of shakiness for this US team in the lead up to Qatar. Considering the group has not played since September and will only have a brief period to prepare, I think we will see some of that shakiness continue.
This is the first time any player on the USMNT will play in the World Cup (minus Yedlin). While the EPL, Bundesliga, and Champions Leagues are big competitions, the caliber of the World Cup is something most of this US squad has never experienced. The pressure of playing in the World Cup is going to overwhelm this young US squad.
Speaking of young, younger teams in recent history have not had great success. There have been ten squads since 2006 that have had a squad age average around the US’s 25.48 or lower. While 2006 Spain, 2010 Ghana, and 2010 Germany went on to have success, six of the those ten squads bowed out of the group stage. Additionally, three of the six failed to secure a single point.
Finally, Gregg Berhalter just doesn’t have what it takes to lead this squad throughout the World Cup. Throughout his tenure as USMNT head coach, Berhalter’s tactics have led to headaches for this US squad at times. I think those headaches will turn to migraines in Qatar.
A young squad with little to no World Cup experience and a questionable World Cup spells disaster for the US. I think you see a draw against Wales, a big loss to England, and a draw with Iran. The US falls behind Iran for fourth due to goal differential.