U.S makes inspiring impression in World Cup despite round of 16 exit

Fans gaze at a gigantic World Cup sculpture as it is carried to be a part of the USA vs Wales pre-game introduction

Photo contributed by Jonny Costello ’25

Fans gaze at a gigantic World Cup sculpture as it is carried to be a part of the USA vs Wales pre-game introduction

Despite falling in a heartbreaking loss to Netherlands on Dec. 3, the U.S Men’s soccer team’s performance at the World Cup was not only something to be proud of, but also exemplified soccer’s progression in the United States. Being their first World Cup appearance since 2014, a lot of excitement and optimism surrounded the team going into the tournament. 

In what was tipped as one of the most difficult groups in the World Cup, the U.S was able to progress out of it with England, knocking out Iran and Wales in the process. Following a series of three games in which they were impressively able to dominate possession against England in a 0-0 draw, one of the tournament’s favorites, they produced another great performance against the Dutch. Although they were defeated, the U.S was the aggressor for most of the game, and despite not being as ruthless in front of goal as their European counterparts, Gregg Berhalter’s team not only showed that their team can play with the best, but also that they are bridging the skill gap between them and the nations who have experienced World Cup triumph.

Team USA warms up for their opening match against Wales shortly before kick-off (Photo contributed by Jonny Costello ’25)

“It’s frustration to begin with,” U.S captain Tyler Adams said to the New York Times. “But after reflecting for that quick moment, you could just really sit here and think it’s probably the first time in a long time where people will say, ‘Wow, this team has something special.’ When you put four performances like that out on the field, it really gives people something to be excited about.”

With a totally new and exciting squad coming to this World Cup, several Staples students made the journey over to Qatar to watch the U.S’s games. Although the team showed a lot of potential, it is widely believed that Berhalter and the players have a lot to learn for the next World Cup. 

“With many of the players playing in Europe, I thought they could stack up to most teams at the tournament,” Jonny Costello ’25 said. Greg Berhalter had an opportunity to play some amazing free flowing soccer, and did so a lot, but some of the time his high end talent bailed him out.”

With many of the players playing in Europe, I thought they could stack up to most teams at the tournament”

— Jonny Costello ’25

Having the second youngest team in the whole tournament, a lot of optimism is surrounding this set of players regarding the next World Cup, as it is hard to imagine the team not improving by 2026.

Fans watch the USA vs Wales pre-match show as they await the commencement of the game (Photo contributed by Jonny Costello ’25)

“The U.S is catching up quickly and there is more talent on the way. In my opinion this team has a real shot to win in 2026 with players like Pulisic, Reyna, Adams and Musa all hitting the prime years of their careers,” Costello said. 

U.S soccer is reaching new heights and is really bridging the gap with countries such as Portugal and Belgium, both of which our under-17 men’s national team beat last May. Therefore, while we, despite our massive strides, may not be able to beat the best just yet, it is not too crazy to think that by the time of the next World Cup, things won’t be different. 

“I think the development path that the US started a few years ago is really starting to shine through on the big stage,” Eli Rosenkranz ’24 said. “I believe that as long as the U.S continues to invest in their young talent and provide opportunities to develop and play soccer overseas, U.S soccer will grow into one of the top teams in the world.”