Technically they've been in the World Cup for a week now but they've advanced to the tournament's knockout stage which in most people's eyes is the real start to the World Cup.
The United States were drawn into Group B for the World Cup qualifying round along with the nations of Wales, Iran and England. In qualifying group play, each nation plays the other teams in their group once, and the top-2 will advance to the tournament where a matchup systems based on group standings will decide each matchup.
The United States did very well in their group stage, going 1-0-2, meaning 1 win and 2 draws. Even better than not dropping a single game in this stage, was that they only allowed 1 goal in 3 games to a Wales side that boasts one of the best wingers in the world, Gareth Bale. Even more impressively, they nabbed a clean sheet against a very strong English side that is the 4th favorite to win the whole tournament.
The play from the USMNT has been stellar and has been an all-around team performance. The strategy employed by manager Gregg Berhalter has been one of composure and smart play. Goalkeepper Matt Turner has done outstanding only allowing the single goal to Gareth Bale on a penalty shot. Turner has stopped 6 shots on target on 19 shots by opposing teams and again, has only let up the one penalty shot the USMNT has given.
The U.S. finished second in their group with 5 points behind England who scored 7 points. The U.S. will face the group A winners Netherlands in the first round of the tournament on Saturday, December 3rd. The game will be televised on FoxSports and Telemundo at 10 am EST from Khalifa International Stadium. The hugely anticipated matchup will be the first game of the tournament to happen at that stage and will be in front of a massive audience domestically and internationally.
Netherlands is a good side who may have gotten favorable more than once to be in their position thus far. Their group was one of the weakest in the World Cup featuring Senegal, Ecuador and the home country Qatar. Netherlands would go 2-1-0 only tying with Ecuador. Their defense has looked pretty slow to start as they let up 30 shots and 8 on target in the first two games to Senegal and Ecuador. Their goals made to given ratio is 5:1 which is a very strong number, and shows their strengths clearly.
The key to defeating the Oranje is to limit opportunities to their striker Cody Gakpo. Gakpo is tied for the Golden Boot race with 3 goals in as many games. He is a left-footed power striker who has made some unreal shots hitting top-bins and bar-downs like nothing.
Their keeper, Andries Noppert has also had an outstanding start, blocking 10 of 11 shots on target thus far and will be a tricky keeper to beat for this United States team.
Unfortunately going into their matchup on Saturday, two of the best forwards representing America are questionable to play. Christian Pulisic, widely regarded as the most talented player on this team left the Iran match early with a pelvic contusion after colliding with the keeper after making the lone goal in that game. Another leading forward is Josh Sargent, who has started two of the three games and has 2 shots on target thus far suffered a freak ankle injury while standing on the ball in the same game and will undergo scans today to find out more.
Both players are believed to go bearing their importance to this team and the importance of the game coming up as will all games be from here on.
Saturday will mark the first World Cup tournament game for the U.S. since losing to Belgium in the opening round of the 2014 World Cup after not even making it to the 2018 tournament. Our boys are working very well together and have shown great defensive-minded play to make it this far. We hope they can make it a hell of a lot farther than this too.
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Make sure to stay tuned as we continue coverage of the 2022 World Cup and the United States Men's National Team.