The World Cup draw is set. Here’s what that means for the USMNT.

Loading...

If the U.S. men’s national team entered Friday’s 2022 World Cup draw first and foremost wanting to avoid a nightmare schedule in Qatar, Gregg Berhalter’s squad can rest easy: It did not end up in the so-called Group of Death.

That label goes not to Group B, which includes the United States, England, Iran and a to-be-determined European foe, but probably Group E, which pits European powers Spain and Germany against Japan and either Costa Rica or New Zealand. Group C also won’t be a cakewalk; Copa America champion Argentina finds itself matched up with Mexico, Poland and Saudi Arabia. And Group F features Croatia and Belgium — the second- and third-place teams from the 2018 tournament, respectively — alongside Morocco and a surging Canada squad.

32 teams

for a trophy

Eight groups of four teams will pull from the six FIFA confederations.

Group

Group

Group

Group

A

B

C

D

FIFA

rank

1st

3

France

4

Argentina

5

England

9

Mexico

10

10

Nether.

11

Denm.

U.S.

15

20

Senegal

20

21

Iran

26

Poland

And Wales (18),

Ukraine (27) or Scotland (39)

30

35

Tunisia

40

And Peru (22), Australia (42)

or UAE (68)

46

Ecuador

49

Saudi

Arabia

50

51

Qatar

60

Group

Group

Group

Group

e

f

g

h

FIFA

rank

1st

1

Brazil

2

Belgium

7

Spain

8

Port.

10

12

Germany

13

Urug.

14

Switz.

16

Croatia

20

23

Japan

24

Morocco

25

Serbia

And Costa Rica (31) or New Zealand (101)

29

South

Korea

30

37

Cameroon

38

Canada

40

50

60

60

Ghana

Host

1 Qatar

CONMEBOL

4

CONCACAF

3

UEFA

13

CAF

5

AFC

4

TBD

2

North, Central America and Caribbean

Europe

Africa

South

America

Asia

32 teams

for a trophy

Eight groups of four teams will pull from the six FIFA confederations.

Group

Group

Group

Group

A

B

C

D

FIFA

rank

1st

3

France

4

Argentina

5

England

9

Mexico

10

10

Netherlands

11

Denmark

U.S.

15

20

20

Senegal

21

Iran

26

Poland

And Wales (18),

Ukraine (27) or Scotland (39)

30

35

Tunisia

40

And Peru (22), Australia (42)

or UAE (68)

46

Ecuador

49

Saudi

Arabia

50

51

Qatar

60

Group

Group

Group

Group

e

f

g

h

FIFA

rank

1st

1

Brazil

2

Belgium

7

Spain

8

Portugal

10

12

Germany

13

Uruguay

14

Switzerland

16

Croatia

20

23

Japan

24

Morocco

25

Serbia

And Costa Rica (31) or New Zealand (101)

29

South

Korea

30

37

Cameroon

38

Canada

40

50

60

60

Ghana

Host

1 Qatar

CONMEBOL

4

CONCACAF

3

UEFA

13

CAF

5

AFC

4

TBD

2

North, Central America and Caribbean

Europe

Africa

South

America

Asia

32 teams

for a trophy

Eight groups of four teams will pull from the six FIFA confederations.

Group

Group

Group

Group

A

B

C

D

FIFA

rank

1st

3

France

Argentina

4

England

5

Mexico

9

Netherlands

10th

10

11

Denmark

U.S.

15

Senegal

20th

20

Iran

21

Poland

26

And Wales (18),

Ukraine (27) or Scotland (39)

30th

35

Tunisia

40th

And Peru (22), Australia (42)

or UAE (68)

Ecuador

46

Saudi

Arabia

49

50th

51

Qatar

60th

Group

Group

Group

Group

E

F

G

H

FIFA

rank

Brazil

1st

1

Belgium

2

Spain

7

Portugal

8

10th

Germany

12

Uruguay

13

Switzerland

14

Croatia

16

20th

Japan

23

Morocco

24

Serbia

25

South

Korea

29

30th

And Costa Rica (31) or New Zealand (101)

Cameroon

37

Canada

38

40th

50th

Ghana

60th

60

Federation

Teams

Host

1

UEFA

13

CAF

5

CONMEBOL

4

AFC

4

CONCACAF

3

TBD

2

North, Central America and Caribbean

Qatar

Europe

Africa

South

America

Asia

32 teams

for a trophy

Eight groups of four teams will pull from the six FIFA confederations.

Group

Group

Group

Group

Group

Group

Group

Group

A

B

C

D

E

F

G

H

FIFA

rank

Brazil

1

1st

Belgium

2

France

3

Argentina

4

England

5

Spain

7

Portugal

8

Mexico

9

Netherlands

10

10th

Denmark

11

Germany

12

Uruguay

13

Switzerland

14

U.S.

15

Croatia

16

Senegal

20

20th

Iran

21

Japan

23

Morocco

24

Serbia

25

Poland

26

And Wales (18),

Ukraine (27) or Scotland (39)

South

Korea

29

30th

And Costa Rica (31) or New Zealand (101)

Tunisia

35

Cameroon

37

Canada

38

40th

And Peru (22), Australia (42)

or UAE (68)

Ecuador

46

Saudi

Arabia

49

50th

Qatar

51

Ghana

60

60th

Federation

Teams

Host

1

UEFA

13

CAF

5

CONMEBOL

4

AFC

4

CONCACAF

3

TBD

2

North, Central America and Caribbean

Europe

Africa

South America

Asia

Qatar

But the Americans certainly didn’t land the softest group for the quadrennial spectacle, which runs from Nov. 21 to Dec. 18. Although Group A includes a resurgent Netherlands team and African champion Senegal, the presence of Qatar — a first-time participant that received a top seed as the host nation — and Ecuador arguably makes that the weakest slate of teams. Group H isn’t particularly daunting, either, with talented but underachieving Portugal joined by an aging Uruguay team and underdogs South Korea and Ghana.


USMNT lands a tough but manageable group

Through three-quarters of the draw, the Americans — who were plucked from Pot 2 — could hardly have asked for a more favorable schedule. England is laden with talent but less imposing than fellow top seeds Brazil, Argentina, France and Spain. Considering Pot 3 could have served up Senegal or a Poland squad led by FIFA player of the year Robert Lewandowski, the Americans must have been pleased to see Iran land in Group B.

Pot 4 was where things got dicey: The Americans’ group drew the winner of the final European playoff, which was delayed to June because of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Wales, which already defeated Austria in its playoff semifinal, will face Scotland or Ukraine for the final spot in Group B. None of these teams are contenders; Wales hasn’t been to the World Cup since 1958, Scotland hasn’t won a game in the tournament since 1990, and Ukraine has been to just one World Cup, in 2006. But with all three squads ranked in FIFA’s top 40, they represented some of Pot 4′s toughest options.

There’s also some intriguing recent history to keep in mind: Although the United States has never faced Wales, Scotland or Ukraine on soccer’s grandest stage, the Americans lost to Iran, 2-1, in the 1998 group stage and tied England, 1-1, in the teams’ 2010 opener.

How does the USMNT shape up?

Before the United States failed to qualify for the 2018 tournament, the Americans had advanced out of the group stage in three of their previous four World Cups. With an unprecedented glut of young stars playing for some of Europe’s top teams, the 15th-ranked U.S. squad should be favored to advance again to the round of 16, where it would face a team from Group A for a chance to reach the quarterfinals for the first time since 2002.

The U.S. men's national team

in the World Cup

The USMNT made it to the semifinals in the first World Cup, played almost a century ago in Uruguay.

Since then, the best result was 20 years ago at the 2002 World Cup.

Did not

qualify

Group

stage

Round

of 16

Quarter-

finals

Semi-

finals

Final

Winner

’30

’34

’38

Withdrew from qualifying

Argentina 6,

U.S. 1

’50

’54

’58

’62

’66

’70

’74

’78

The U.S. hosted the World Cup in 1994

’82

’86

’90

Germany 1,

U.S. 0

’94

’98

’02

’06

’10

’14

’18

The U.S. men's national team

in the World Cup

The USMNT made it to the semifinals in the first World Cup, played almost a century ago in Uruguay.

Since then, the best result was 20 years ago at the 2002 World Cup.

Did not

qualify

Group

stage

Round

of 16

Quarter-

finals

Semi-

finals

Final

Winner

’30

’34

Withdrew from qualifying

’38

Argentina 6,

U.S. 1

’50

’54

’58

’62

’66

’70

’74

’78

The U.S. hosted the World Cup in 1994

’82

’86

’90

Germany 1,

U.S. 0

’94

’98

’02

’06

’10

’14

’18

The U.S. men's national team

in the World Cup

The USMNT made it to the semifinals in the first World Cup,

played almost a century ago in Uruguay.

Since then, the best result was 20 years ago at the 2002 World Cup.

Champion

Argentina 6, U.S. 1

Final

Germany 1, U.S. 0

Semifinals

Quarterfinals

Round of 16

Group stage

Did not qualify

’30

’34

’38

’50

’54

’58

’62

’66

’70

’74

’78

’82

’86

’90

’94

’98

’02

’06

’10

’14

’18

Withdrew

from qualifying

The U.S. hosted the World Cup in 1994

That run ended when the Americans largely outplayed eventual runner-up Germany but fell, 1-0, on Michael Ballack’s first-half strike. Before that, you have to go all the way back to the first World Cup in 1930 — when the Americans were routed, 6-1, by Argentina in the semifinals — to find a U.S. run past the round of 16.

Coach

G. Berhalter

Projected lineup

A. Robinson

Y. Musah

C. Pulisic

M. Robinson

Z. Steffen

R. Pepi

T. Adams

W. Zimmerman

G. Reyna

W. McKennie

S. Dest

Reserves

GOALKEEPERS

M. Turner

E. Horvath

DEFENDERS

D. Yedlin

R. Cannon

C. Richards

A. Long

MIDFIELDERS

K. Acosta

L. De La Torre

ATTACKERS

B. Aaronson

T. Weah

P. Arriola

J. Ferreira

Coach

G. Berhalter

Projected lineup

A. Robinson

Y. Musah

C. Pulisic

M. Robinson

Z. Steffen

R. Pepi

T. Adams

W. Zimmerman

G. Reyna

W. McKennie

S. Dest

Reserves

GOALKEEPERS

M. Turner

E. Horvath

DEFENDERS

D. Yedlin

R. Cannon

C. Richards

A. Long

MIDFIELDERS

K. Acosta

L. De La Torre

ATTACKERS

B. Aaronson

T. Weah

P. Arriola

J. Ferreira

Projected lineup

A. Robinson

Y. Musah

C. Pulisic

M. Robinson

Z. Steffen

R. Pepi

T. Adams

W. Zimmerman

G. Reyna

W. McKennie

Coach

G. Berhalter

48 years old

S. Dest

Reserves

GOALKEEPERS

M. Turner

E. Horvath

DEFENDERS

D. Yedlin

R. Cannon

C. Richards

A. Long

MIDFIELDERS

K. Acosta

L. De La Torre

ATTACKERS

B. Aaronson

T. Weah

P. Arriola

J. Ferreira

When U.S. Coach Gregg Berhalter — a defender on that 2002 World Cup squad — picks his roster for Qatar, he will have a wealth of enticing options to choose from. The goalkeeping corps includes Manchester City backup Zack Steffen and incoming Arsenal shot-stopper Matt Turner. Sergiño Dest, an attack-minded right back, roams the flank for Spanish heavyweight Barcelona. Midfielders Tyler Adams (Germany’s RB Leipzig), Weston McKennie (Italy’s Juventus) and Yunas Musah (Spain’s Valencia) also log regular minutes in top European leagues. And Gio Reyna, a crafty 19-year-old playmaker for Germany’s Borussia Dortmund, is healthy again after missing most of qualifying with a hamstring injury.

The star

Christian Pulisic

23 years old, Hershey, Pa

Chelsea FC

National

Team stats

48

games

21

goals

The star

Christian Pulisic

23 years old, Hershey, Pa

Chelsea FC

National

Team stats

48

games

21

goals

9

The star

Christian Pulisic

23 years old, Hershey, Pa

Chelsea FC

National

Team stats

48

21

games

goals

But the U.S. fortunes largely will rest on the shoulders of 23-year-old Christian Pulisic, a menacing attacking threat who signed with Chelsea for a $73 million transfer fee in 2019 — a record for an American — and went on to help the English Premier League side win the 2020-21 UEFA Champions League. After a then-teenage Pulisic tried and failed to carry the United States to the 2018 tournament, the Hershey, Pa., native finally will get his chance to shine on the World Cup stage.

England

England finds itself in the midst of a golden generation, having advanced to the 2018 World Cup semifinals and the European Championship final last summer. For a nation that lifted the 1966 World Cup on home soil but has mostly underachieved since, the Three Lions’ newfound optimism stems from a roster featuring decorated Tottenham striker Harry Kane, dynamic Manchester City winger Raheem Sterling and such promising attackers as Mason Mount, Phil Foden and Jack Grealish.

England

in the World Cup

England won the World Cup it hosted in 1966.

Did not

qualify

Group

stage

Round

of 16

Quarter-

finals

Semi-

finals

Final

Winner

’30

Not a FIFA

member

’34

’38

’50

’54

’58

’62

’66

’70

’74

England 4,

Germany 2

’78

’82

’86

’90

’94

’98

’02

’06

’10

’14

’18

England

in the World Cup

England won the World Cup it hosted in 1966.

Did not

qualify

Group

stage

Round

of 16

Quarter-

finals

Semi-

finals

Final

Winner

’30

Not a FIFA

member

’34

’38

’50

’54

’58

’62

’66

’70

’74

England 4,

Germany 2

’78

’82

’86

’90

’94

’98

’02

’06

’10

’14

’18

England

in the World Cup

England won the World Cup it hosted in 1966.

Champion

Final

England 4, Germany 2

Semifinals

Quarterfinals

Round of 16

Group stage

Not a FIFA

member

Did not qualify

’30

’34

’38

’50

’54

’58

’62

’66

’70

’74

’78

’82

’86

’90

’94

’98

’02

’06

’10

’14

’18

Coach

G. Southgate

Projected lineup

L. Shaw

H. Maguire

M. Mount

D. Rice

J. Stones

J. Pickford

H. Kane

K. Phillips

R. Sterling

K. Walker

K. Trippier

Coach

G. Southgate

Projected lineup

L. Shaw

H. Maguire

M. Mount

D. Rice

J. Stones

J. Pickford

H. Kane

K. Phillips

R. Sterling

K. Walker

K. Trippier

Projected lineup

L. Shaw

H. Maguire

M. Mount

D. Rice

J. Stones

J. Pickford

H. Kane

K. Phillips

R. Sterling

K. Walker

Coach

G. Southgate

51 years old

K. Trippier

The star

Harry Kane

28 years old, London, England

Tottenham Hotspur FC

National

Team stats

69

games

49

goals

The star

Harry Kane

28 years old, London, England

Tottenham Hotspur FC

National

Team stats

69

games

49

goals

The star

Harry Kane

28 years old, London, England

Tottenham Hotspur FC

National

Team stats

69

49

games

goals

Iran

Although Iran enjoyed a dominant qualifying campaign in Asia, going 8-1-1 to win a group that included World Cup regular South Korea, the Middle Eastern nation has never gotten out of the first round. If the Iranians want to beat the odds and escape Group B, they will need to lean on forward Sardar Azmoun, who was a prolific scorer for Russia’s Zenit Saint Petersburg before he moved to Germany’s Bayer Leverkusen this winter.

Iran in

the World Cup

Iran played its first World Cup in 1974, quit in 1982 and was disqualified in 1986.

Did not

qualify

Group

stage

Round

of 16

Quarter-

finals

Semi-

finals

Final

Winner

’30

Not a FIFA

member

’34

’38

’50

’54

’58

’62

’66

’70

’74

’78

’82

’86

’90

’94

’98

’02

’06

’10

’14

’18

Iran in

the World Cup

Iran played its first World Cup in 1974, quit in 1982 and was disqualified in 1986.

Did not

qualify

Group

stage

Round

of 16

Quarter-

finals

Semi-

finals

Final

Winner

’30

Not a FIFA

member

’34

’38

’50

’54

’58

’62

’66

’70

’74

’78

’82

’86

’90

’94

’98

’02

’06

’10

’14

’18

Iran in

the World Cup

Iran played its first World Cup in 1974, quit in 1982 and was disqualified in 1986.

Champion

Final

Semifinals

Quarterfinals

Round of 16

Group stage

Not a FIFA

member

Did not qualify

’30

’34

’38

’50

’54

’58

’62

’66

’70

’74

’78

’82

’86

’90

’94

’98

’02

’06

’10

’14

’18

Coach

D. Skocic

Projected lineup

E. Hajsafi

M. Taremi

M. Hosseini

V. Amiri

A. Beiranvand

S. Azmoun

S. Afagh

M. Pouraliganji

O. Ebrahimi

R. Rezaeian

A. Jahanbakhsh

Coach

D. Skocic

Projected lineup

E. Hajsafi

M. Taremi

M. Hosseini

V. Amiri

A. Beiranvand

S. Azmoun

S. Afagh

M. Pouraliganji

O. Ebrahimi

A. Jahanbakhsh

R. Rezaeian

Projected lineup

E. Hajsafi

M. Taremi

M. Hosseini

V. Amiri

A. Beiranvand

S. Azmoun

S. Afagh

M. Pouraliganji

O. Ebrahimi

Coach

D. Skocic

53 years old

R. Rezaeian

A. Jahanbakhsh

The star

Sardar Azmoun

27 years old, Gonbad-e Kavus, Iran

Bayer Leverkusen

National

Team stats

62

games

40

goals

The star

Sardar Azmoun

27 years old, Gonbad-e Kavus, Iran

Bayer Leverkusen

National

Team stats

62

games

40

goals

The star

Sardar Azmoun

27 years old, Gonbad-e Kavus, Iran

Bayer Leverkusen

National

Team stats

62

40

games

goals

Washington Post stuff illustrations with photos by Julio Cortez/AP, Orlando Ramirez/USA TODAY, Dylan Martinez/REUTERS, Farshad Abbasi/AFP, Vincent Mignott/EPA-EFE, John Raoux/AP, Eric Gay/AP and Eduardo Verdugo/AP.

Loading...
Loading...