5 Takeaways from the USMNT's Run at the 2022 World Cup

Alex WindleyDecember 3, 2022

5 Takeaways from the USMNT's Run at the 2022 World Cup

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    AL-RAYYAN - Back row (lr) United States goalkeeper Matt Turner, Walker Zimmerman of United States, Timothy Weah of United States, Yunus Musah of United States, Tim Ream of United States, Antonee Robinson of United States.Front row (lr) Tyler Adams of United States, Christian Pulisic of United States, Weston McKennie of United States, Sergino Dest of United States, Jesus Ferreira of United States during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 round of 16 game between the Netherlands and the United States at the Khalifa International stadium on December 3, 2022 in AL-Rayyan, Qatar. ANP MAURICE VAN STONE (Photo by ANP via Getty Images)
    ANP via Getty Images

    The United States men's national team's journey in Qatar has ended.

    After an exhilarating group stage that saw them beat Iran to advance to the round of 16, the Stars and Stripes saw their luck run out as they lost 3-1 to the Netherlands.

    After getting out of a tight group almost via sheer stubbornness, the U.S. fell flat against the Dutch. They looked fatigued, out of ideas and overmatched.

    As we pivot toward 2026, there are plenty of lessons the team can take as they build toward the next tournament.

    Here are five takeaways from the USMNT's run in Qatar.

The Midfield For The Future Is Set

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    DOHA, QATAR - DECEMBER 03: The shirt of Tyler Adams of United States is seen in the dressing room prior to the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Round of 16 match between Netherlands and USA at Khalifa International Stadium on December 03, 2022 in Doha, Qatar. (Photo by Patrick Smith - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)
    Patrick Smith - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images

    Despite the lackluster performance against the Netherlands, the USMNT's midfield still impressed in the group stage.

    Tyler Adams, Weston McKennie and Yunus Musah are all 24 years old or younger and will be even better prepared for their second World Cup experience by the time 2026 rolls around.

    In Adams and Musah's case, they may even secure moves to bigger European teams if their World Cup form transitions to club football.

    The trio have shown they're capable of competing with some of the best midfielders in the world, as they did against the likes of Declan Rice and Jude Bellingham against England.

    Football Talent Scout - Jacek Kulig @FTalentScout

    Excellent performance by the midfield duo Tyler Adams &amp; Yunus Musah.<br><br>Weston McKennie did a great job as mezzala/false winger too.<br><br>England's midfield completely shut down.<br><br>Respect. πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ <a href="https://t.co/ok0eGsC3Ez">pic.twitter.com/ok0eGsC3Ez</a>

    They also showed a level of maturity that goes beyond their years, with Adams in particular impressing in this aspect.

    If they can keep up their form and continue to improve with their club sides, there's no reason why they can't start in 2026.

Gregg Berhalter Got the Job Done, But Will He Be Around for 2026?

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    DOHA, QATAR - DECEMBER 03: Gregg Berhalter, Head Coach of United States, gives the team instructions during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Round of 16 match between Netherlands and USA at Khalifa International Stadium on December 03, 2022 in Doha, Qatar. (Photo by Patrick Smith - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)
    Patrick Smith - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images

    Gregg Berhalter did what he was hired to do.

    He got the U.S. to the round of 16; anything after that was considered a bonus. As a new cycle begins, though, the U.S. Soccer Federation could move on from Berhalter.

    The 49-year-old may want to return to Europe if any sides are interested, too. He spent two years in Sweden with Hammarby from 2011 to 2013 before taking his first MLS management position with the Columbus Crew, which he held for five years prior to getting the call for the national team.

    Though there are questions about Berhalter's tactical decisions, perhaps he has done enough to earn another opportunity in Europe.

    If Berhalter does leave, who replaces him? Leeds United manager Jesse Marsch has been discussed as a potential candidate, but nothing concrete has been established.

    Whoever takes the mantle hopefully can tailor their tactics to the players at their disposal and not vice-versa like Berhalter tended to do.

Tim Ream Was Fantastic, but the USMNT Will Need to Find a Replacement

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    DOHA, QATAR - DECEMBER 03: Tim Ream of United States looks dejected after their sides' elimination from the tournament after the 1-3 defeat in the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Round of 16 match between Netherlands and USA at Khalifa International Stadium on December 03, 2022 in Doha, Qatar. (Photo by Michael Regan - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)
    Michael Regan - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images

    Tim Ream was the best defender for the U.S. in Qatar. However, age catches up with everyone.

    By 2026, Ream will be 38 years old.

    Luckily, the U.S. has plenty of talent waiting on the wings when Ream ages out.

    Players like Miles Robinson and Chris Richards will be thrown into the ring should they stay injury-free. Both players are young, technically proficient center-backs who have made an impact for the USMNT in the past:

    FOX Soccer @FOXSoccer

    MILES ROBINSON IN THE 117TH MINUTE 😱<br><br>The <a href="https://twitter.com/USMNT?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@USMNT</a> takes the lead!!!!f <a href="https://t.co/1CwsO0qQWe">pic.twitter.com/1CwsO0qQWe</a>

    Of course, throughout the next four years, there will be defenders not currently on the radar who will make their mark.

    It'll be interesting to see how this plays out, but the U.S. will have time to choose its next center-back pairing carefully.

USMNT Failed to Take Their Chances

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    DOHA, QATAR - DECEMBER 03: Christian Pulisic of United States shoots during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Round of 16 match between Netherlands and USA at Khalifa International Stadium on December 03, 2022 in Doha, Qatar. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
    Dan Mullan/Getty Images

    Throughout the tournament, the U.S. struggled to finish their chances.

    They managed only two goals from open play in the group stage, and it took until the 76th minute to score against the Netherlands.

    For a team with many attacking talents, including Tim Weah, Christian Pulisic and Brenden Aaronson, that is unacceptable.

    Berhalter's tactics didn't help either. His propensity to set up his team to cross and play from the wings didn't work with the forward line the U.S. has.

    Though tactics may have played a part, the players have to finish their chances as well.

    If Pulisic buried his shot in the third minute, the U.S. might have fancied their chances versus the Dutch.

    FOX Soccer @FOXSoccer

    What a CHANCE for the <a href="https://twitter.com/USMNT?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@USMNT</a>! 😱<br><br>The USMNT is knocking early against the Netherlands <a href="https://t.co/PMuZwBYJuM">pic.twitter.com/PMuZwBYJuM</a>

    The U.S. will kick themselves for missing that chance and others as they look back at this tournament. That's something to improve on as 2026 approaches.

The USMNT Must Find a No. 9 for the 2026 World Cup

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    DOHA, QATAR - DECEMBER 03: Jesus Ferreira of United States passes the ball against Nathan Ake of Netherlands during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Round of 16 match between Netherlands and USA at Khalifa International Stadium on December 03, 2022 in Doha, Qatar. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
    Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

    Heading into this tournament, there were myriad discussions about who could start in the No. 9 position.

    From Josh Sargent to Haji Wright to JesΓΊs Ferreira, no one particularly impressed. The trio combined to manage a single goal.

    For a team that relies heavily on hold-up play, Wright and Ferreira weren't the correct personnel for the U.S. to play how they wanted to.

    By 2026, this issue has to be addressed.

    During those four years, there will be one or two standout players who cement their place on the national team.

    Even now, forwards such as Brandon VΓ‘zquez and Jordan Pefok would make the team significantly better.

    Whomever steps up must be able to score consistently. What happened in Qatar can't be repeated.

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