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It’s time to face facts: The USMNT is kinda good

We didn't think the United States was going to make it very far in the World Cup. But they proved us wrong, and USMNT fans should be happy with the results.

The USMNT is back at the World Cup with a bang. The team finished second in a tough group, at least on paper based on FIFA rankings, and deservedly reached the knockout stage. What’s even more impressive is that they have only conceded one goal so far in three games, and zero goals in open play. 

Although they have only scored twice in three games, a scoring drought which needs to be improved, this young team seems to be playing with a swagger we haven’t seen before. And though they face a superior opponent in the next round, USMNT fans have reason to hope. 

More than just a game

This was a must-win game for the USMNT as they came into this game in third place with two points, below England and Iran. Eyebrows were raised when Gregg Berhalter fielded the youngest starting eleven from any team at this World Cup. He also dropped defender Walker Zimmerman for Cameron Carter-Vickers, which meant there were no MLS players in the starting eleven. 

His decisions paid off as the USMNT dominated Iran from the beginning. The USMNT outshot Iran 9-0 in the first half, and the shooting barage paid off when Christian Pulisic put his body on the line to score the winning goal in the 38th minute.

The team dropped off in the second half, understandably, as the Iranians started opening up to push for the equalizer. Berhalter also made some questionable substitutions and Iran dominated the latter stretches of the game, although they were limited to just one shot on target.

But in the end, the USMNT held on to the lead and advanced. It was all they needed to do. 

The Dutch are favored but not invinceable

Berhalter has repeatedly said they will be approaching the World Cup as two separate tournaments: The group stage, and the knockout rounds. Though they have completed their initial task, the challenge will get a lot harder: Beating a Dutch side led by a very experienced manager Louis Van Gaal.

But this isn’t an impossible task. The Dutch have clear weaknesses that we saw against Ecuador, where they were completely dominated and outshot fifteen to two. The main concerns now for the USMNT are the injuries of Pulisic and Josh Sargent, especially since Pulisic is responsible for half their goals so far this tournament. Also of concern is fatigue since the USMNT played three grueling matches while the Netherlands comfortably beat Qatar earlier without putting too much effort in.

The USMNT exceeded our expectations

All in all, the USMNT has come to Qatar and exceeded the expectations of many people. They certainly exceeded mine

They showed that they can match up against any team during the group stage and can also grind out results when they need to. The Americans put in an especially impressive performance against England and dominated the most valuable squad in the tournament. If they can grind out a result against a team that talented, who’s to say they couldn’t do it against anyone else? 

The USMNT won’t win the World Cup this year. But with an average age of just 25.2 years, this team has a ton of potential, and if they keep moving in the right direction the possibilities of winning the 2026 World Cup on home soil won’t be too far-fetched. 

Until then, we should enjoy what they’ve already accomplished in Qatar. We made the mistake of underrating this team, but that won’t happen any more this tournament. We believe.