The United States of America were an unusual absence from the 2018 World Cup in Russia, but the American side will be back in action this tournament in Qatar. With four years to go until the US host the World Cup together with Mexico and Canada, there is a serious chance that the US team go into it with one of the strongest sides in the tournament.
While the US have always had a sturdy and competitive team in World Cups, led by the likes of Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey and DaMarcus Beasley, the latest incarnation looks to be perhaps the most talented side to come out of the US.
A fresh wind is blowing through the 50 states though, with a youthful, talented team growing together. The US squad has an average age of just 25, with only Ghana bringing a younger team to the tournament in Qatar.
If that side can grow together and deliver on their potential, then it could bring about the next step in the growth of football in the US. The 1994 World Cup was the catalyst to impregnate the nation with an enthusiasm that allowed football to compete with some of the sports below the top tier of popularity.
The 2026 might see football go toe-to-toe with the likes of Basketball. US sports streaming trends show that football has now surpassed the likes of baseball as America’s third-most popular sport to stream, behind the behemoths that are Basketball and American football.
Included in the likes of the current US team are La Liga starlets Sergino Dest (on loan at Milan from Barcelona), Yunus Musah of Valencia, and Luca de la Torre of Celta Vigo will all be competing in Qatar. Together with the likes of Weston Mckennie, Gio Reyna and Christian Pulisic, it is not unreasonable to expect that US coach Gregg Berhalter can put together a team plying their trade at Europe’s top sides.
As been seen many times before, success on the pitch breeds success off it. Should the US be able to get into the final eight or even the semi-finals of their home World Cup, it might further indoctrinate one of the world’s largest commercial and sporting forces into the world’s biggest sport.
The seeds of that success can be planted in the desert in Qatar, to be harvested on home soil in four years time. It is plenty of pressure to place on their shoulders, but this time, the talent is there.