Spencer Thomas | Sports Editor
Nov. 17, 2022
If you’re like most American soccer fans, the sport exists for one month every four years. That month is here, as the 2022 FIFA World Cup is set to get underway on Sunday.
World Cup soccer is back for the Stars and Stripes, a hemisphere away from the tear-stained turf in Trinidad & Tobago, where a humiliating loss cost the Americans a chance to compete in the 2018 tournament.
While the return has been highly anticipated for Head Coach Gregg Berhalter and his squad, the leadup has been underwhelming. The offense was stagnant in a pair of September friendlies; a 2-0 loss to Japan and a 0-0 draw with Saudi Arabia. Beyond that, the USMNT has failed to score in six of its last seven matches against teams qualified for the World Cup.
Besides the goal-scoring striker, another significant hole in the squad is at central defense. Walker Zimmerman is an elite player, but the space next to him is likely to be occupied by either Aaron Long, who has had high-profile struggles with both club and country, or Tim Ream, a surprise addition to the final roster.
Hope for a spark lies in Hershey, Pa.’s own: Captain America, Christian Pulisic. The 24-year-old is already cementing a legacy as one of the best American soccer players ever. He gets his first shot at international glory here, despite struggling to earn playing time at Chelsea.
Any chance of support will come from Brendan Aaronson. The Medford, N.J. native, also known as “The Medford Messi,” is having a successful season with Leeds United, alongside fellow American Tyler Adams. He plays like a lightning bug, with boundless energy that never relents as he breathes down the neck of whomever has possession.
Cracking the window of opportunity is a relatively weak Group B. The Americans will compete with Iran, Wales and England in the group stage for one of two spots in the knockout round. While England will be a tough task, Iran and Wales have little pedigree on the international stage.
The United States opens up play against Wales on Monday.