The two of us are sitting at a hotel bar in Costa Rica hours after the US Men’s National Team decided to return to the World Cup in March of this year. Bottles of Imperial, bowls of ceviche, notebooks and laptops were scattered on the table in front of us. , and launched a work detailing the American’s journey to Qatar.
The United States lost 2–0 in Costa Rica that night, but finished third in the CONCACAF Octagonal, good enough to return to the World Cup after missing out on the 2018 tournament. quality. Despite qualifying, Team USA remained relatively calm at the final whistle. At first, the disappointment of defeat outweighed the fact that I had gotten my ticket to Qatar.
By the time the team arrived in the locker room, emotions flipped. For over four years, the United States has been haunted by failing to qualify for the last World Cup. Although they were around for their infamous loss, what they missed in 2018 was a huge part of the team’s identity.
Still, sitting at a hotel bar in Costa Rica, I knew I would have to zoom out to tell the real story of this team. Halftime in Honduras in September, or Denver in June 2021. Little has been said about what happened in the Nations League Final at , or in the Gold Cup that followed.
That’s why today we’re introducing a new audio series that you can listen to in full on The Athletic Soccer Show podcast feed.
To understand this team, you need to understand its history — you need to understand what happened in Couva and what happened before it. How the US team shaped the program before 2017. Or how, years after the 2014 World Cup, there were many warning signs that a surprising failure was about to happen.
We also need to understand the trajectory of American players. What Christian Pulisic looked like before the United States hosted his 1994 World Cup, his current head coach Greg his Verhalter and his teammates on the US team that reached the quarter-finals of his 2002 World Cup. played such a big role? In recent years, it’s been blowing it away.
Perhaps most importantly, you should know what’s on the horizon. The United States will be Qatar’s youngest team. The squad will feature players from some of the biggest clubs in the world that the Americans have never been close to. Taken together, these players almost certainly have higher caps than any previous USMNT edition.
All of which raised expectations for this group.Hope for this team can be has let us know what people think about it should do it achieved in Qatar. Four years after the United States co-hosts his 2026 World Cup, the dream that it might be possible when Qatar’s most important player is in the midst of his prime has added even more hype.
But despite the excitement over the teams they play on and the talent they possess, the young Americans are still growing as individuals and coming together as a group. It was bumpy. I have a question about Berhalter’s tactics and legitimate weaknesses in his player pool.
I was only able to capture a lot of it Article submitted on the night the team qualified in Costa Rica.
So when my boss contacted me a few months ago with the idea of creating a podcast series about the US team ahead of the World Cup, I jumped on board.
He has covered the team throughout his Verhalter era, from their first camp in Chula Vista, CA in January 2019, to their recent European friendly matches against Japan and Saudi Arabia. We’ve been looking at how the team was created and reworked, transforming from the scrambled group seen in most of Berhalter’s first year to a young and attractive team going to Qatar. We know inside and out and have documented all the big wins and paradigm-shifting losses.
But for us, too, this podcast has provided a valuable opportunity to step back and hear what others have to say. Berhalter and Key to his players Tyler Adams, Weston McKennie, Gio Reyna, Walker Zimmerman, DeAndre Yedlin and other key figures he brought unique perspectives such as DaMarcus Beasley, Clint Dempsey and Marcelo Balboa I did an interview.
Hearing what some of the greatest USMNT players of all time had to say about where this team stands in the history of the program was illuminating, to say the least. I heard Berhalter talk about the possibility of losing the team in his first year in charge.we heard what it was For real I love being in the locker room at halftime for the US qualifiers in Honduras in September. The player has heard that he will stand up to the label of the Generation and some will embrace it, while others will push him away.
Most of all, I’ve heard about a group of young players standing on the precipice of change and something temporary. This World Cup will change the careers and lives of many people associated with the US team. It’s a big deal, but their story isn’t over either. Given how important Qatar is, the potential for a home World Cup in 2026 is even greater.
We wanted to capture all of these ideas in this podcast. Both die-hard USMNT fans and those watching the team for the first time on Nov. 21 will have a clear understanding of the pressures facing Americans, why there is so much hope in this group, and the feeling. I hope that of this team’s position in the continued evolution of this country’s program and sport.
We will continue to tell the story of this team in the coming weeks. Welsh on 21st November, England on 25th November, Iran on 28th November and he’s on the ground in Qatar for a possible knockout match in December. . Until then, we hope this podcast gives you the most comprehensive look you can get on this US team in preparation for the tournament.
Check out all five episodes below.