Within the ambitious team, there was a sense that they had only scratched the surface.
The 13 players who helped form the nucleus are 25 or younger and most have been recruited by clubs in major European leagues. Others in that age range, from this list and the wider player pool, were waiting in the wings.
Not only that A promising group but a tight group, something that turned their chemistry into cohesive performances for most of their stay. Even after the disappointment of being relegated, the players stayed together late into the night about what was possible in 2026. When the World Cup is held in USA, Mexico and Canada.
“Can we win against the best teams? Can we perform well enough to win against the best teams? I think this group is close,” coach Greg Berhalter said. “The American people have to be confident.”
The American team showed it belonged here. Football goes with England, Pushing the Netherlands and being in fifth place out of 32 countries Must go undefeated in the group stage. However, the game’s turning point against the titans remains elusive.
In eight appearances over 32 years, the U.S. is 2-13-7 against teams from soccer’s dominant continents, Europe and South America. In Qatar, the Americans won Draws against Wales And England and fell Netherlands.
Baby steps for the youth team.
“They can look forward to a great future,” said Dutchman Denzel Dumfries, who dominated on the right and registered a goal and two assists. “They can definitely develop into an elite team.”
The first order of business is who will lead the way. Berhalter’s contract expires soon and the U.S. Soccer Federation must decide whether he will take the program to the next level.
Assuming that Berhalter wants to stay on the job; He may decide to return to the day-to-day demands of coaching a club.
“For the last month, a month and a half, I’ve been focused only on the World Cup, on achieving things with this team,” Berhalter said on Saturday, when asked what his future holds. “For the next couple of weeks, I’ll be scratching my head and I’ll sit down and think about what’s next.”
Berhalter was credited with fostering a family atmosphere, integrating young players and implementing a style that, while effective, brought fun and joy.
Berhalter also drew criticism for tactical decisions and roster and lineup choices — unlike nearly every coach at the position who is scrutinized.
At the World Cup, the United States had been good defensively until Saturday and created many scoring chances, lacking sophistication and finishing touches. Single goals against Wales And Iran Well designed, perseverance led A late score against the NetherlandsBut several chances went unfulfilled, including Christian Pulisic’s golden moment early in Saturday’s game.
Overall, in eight of the last nine matches, The Americans scored many goals Only against Grenada.
The best players in the American attack are on the flanks In midfield, not in Stryker. Josh Sargent, Haji Wright and Jesus Ferreira all got World Cup starts, with Wright scoring on Saturday. A deadly scorer in that position isn’t mandatory, but with one, there’s a level of threat and ability to attract defenders, which opens up space for others.
As Berhalter — or the team’s coach — continues to shape the player pool, the USSF will outline plans to prepare the team for the 2026 tournament.
The first camp of the next cycle is next month in the Los Angeles area Friendlies against Serbia and Colombia. As the dates do not fall within the FIFA international window, most European-based players are unavailable. The first full availability comes in March for the Nations League matches against El Salvador and Grenada.
The United States, Mexico and Canada are expected to receive automatic berths in the expanded, 48-team World Cup in 2026, so they will not participate in the qualifiers. Without those games, tournaments like the annual Nations League and the 2023 and 2025 Gold Cups will take center stage.
Several U.S. World Cup players have qualified for the 2024 Olympics in France, a mostly under-23 tournament. The U.S. men last qualified for the Summer Games in 2008.
Talks are underway to host the 2024 Copa America, the prestigious South American championship, in the United States, an event that will host all three World Cup contenders.
All of the activities over the next 3½ years will prepare the U.S. players for the World Cup, providing another opportunity to grow both the program and the game.
“It was a big opportunity for a lot of us,” midfielder Weston McKenney said of the Qatar odyssey. “We did it well. We went out [with Saturday’s defeat]And that’s too bad, but at the same time, many of us will use this as a chip on our shoulder over the next four years to try to prove what we can do.
World Cup in Qatar
Latest: The knockout stage continued World Cup Argentina defeated Australia 2-1 in the Round of 16 on Saturday. Argentina, with world star Lionel Messi in his final World Cup, are among the favorites to win the tournament and top Group C and Group A. Go through to the quarter finals though Shocking defeat for Saudi Arabia In its first game.
USMNT: US Men’s National Team Beat the Netherlands 3-1, the Netherlands, who won Group A in their opening match of the Round of 16 on Saturday, finished the group stage undefeated, conceding just one goal. While the American run is over, its winning streak continues.
Knockout Round Schedule: A World Cup group stage full of shocking upsets and dramatic turnarounds is now a The knockout round holds more surprises.
Today’s World View: Ishan Tharoor, The Post’s foreign desk columnist, Describes his week at the World Cup in Qatar.