It’s always fun to wonder, right? I’m sitting here and we’re 598 days away from the 2022 World Cup kicking off in Qatar next November. There’s a lot that still needs to happen, including the U.S. Men’s National Team securing their place in the 32-team field, but we’re going to assume that they can get the job done this time around.
If you’re murky on the details of World Cup qualifying or how the USMNT can clear its path towards next winter’s tournament, you can read more about it in another recent article we just dropped.
When the U.S. (likely) steps on the pitch in Qatar next year we’ll be seeing drastically different talent than 2017 when the Yanks were managed by Bruce Arena and featured a squad much older in age. Of the current group of anticipated call ups for World Cup qualifying, it’s hard to imagine anyone older than Jozy Altidore (31) having a shot at making the plane to Qatar.
The U.S. recently secured a narrow 2-1 victory over Northern Ireland in an international friendly, and during that match Gregg Berhalter put out a team with an average age of exactly 23 years old. Since the USMNT’s failure to qualify for Russia four years ago, the path has become clear for success with a new group of players. Younger players.
The days of Michael Bradley, Tim Howard, Omar Gonzalez and Matt Besler are long gone. In fact, the only players that have received USMNT call ups in the past year from that 2017 team that lost to Trinidad & Tobago on the final Concacaf matchday are Christian Pulisic, Kellyn Acosta and Tim Ream.
In a lot of ways it’ll actually be more difficult for Berhalter this time around when it comes to team selection. The sheer talent and youth that the Americans possess right now is astonishing.
Players getting regular minutes at major clubs like Barcelona, Borussia Dortmund and Juventus may have Sergiño Dest, Giovanni Reyna and Weston McKennie sitting pretty in the mind of their national team manager. But what about domestic players competing in Major League Soccer?
There’s a few of them that could work their way into the national team picture over the next 12 months.
James Sands at New York City FC is one of them. His progression in MLS is on the same trajectory as Tyler Adams when he started with the New York Red Bulls. He’s been thrown into various positions and succeeded at basically all of them.
Colorado Rapids left back Sam Vines could potentially be a name that works his way into the discussion as well. The 21-year-old was one of the most consistent players for the U.S. Under-23 team that recently competed for an Olympic bid, but fell short. Vines has steadily progressed with the Rapids and left back is a position the Americans aren’t deep at on the national team level.
Let’s get back to what everyone came here for though and examine my Best XI if the USMNT was competing in the 2022 World Cup right now.