The U.S. Men’s National Team may be aiming to get back to the FIFA World Cup in 2022, but already has one eye set on hosting the international competition on home soil in 2016.
It will be the second time in the country’s history that it will host the competition and with many exciting young players hitting their strides at club level, it should see many of them in their prime by the time 2026 comes.
Tuesday saw five USMNT players appear in the opening day of the 2020-21 UEFA Champions League group stage with several others who could feature by the time the group stage concludes in December. Christian Pulisic, Sergino Dest, and Ethan Horvath all started for their respective clubs while Tyler Adams and Giovanni Reyna came off the bench.
USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter has had the opportunity to work with several of these players in his 21 months in charge of the team and is excited to see how things go forward with this bunch of exciting players.
“The good thing is we’re hosting in 2026,” Berhalter said on CBS Sports Champions League broadcast. “So if you can project out over these next five years, we think we can build a team that can really perform well and potentially shock the world in 2026.”
The USMNT failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, but since has showed positive signs of getting back into the limelight of international soccer. Not only is the current player pool filled with exciting European talent, but there is a solid mixture of players in MLS who could play vital roles for Berhalter in the coming few years.
After seeing the COVID-19 pandemic force a lengthy halt to international action, the USMNT could be ready to take the field in November should a pair of reported friendlies against Wales and the Netherlands become official. It would be the USMNT’s first matches since a 1-0 friendly win over Costa Rica in February and likely would feature many of the European stars who are in the Champions League this fall.
World Cup Qualifying was pushed to 2021 due to the pandemic, but Berhalter’s squad will be expected to put up a much better fight after missing out in 2018. For now the goals will be focused short-term, but possible World Cup experience in 2022 could be vital when the USMNT hosts the competition in the United States.
“Our first step, our goals as a team – we want to obviously qualify for the World Cup and then we want to perform well at the World Cup,” Berhalter said. “The way we’re looking at this project, it is a long-term project. When you think about how young our team is, we’re going to need that experience playing in a World Cup.”