August saw the USA soccer team win the CONCACAF Gold Cup. Now they have more vital games ahead of them in November and early next year. Their aim now is to ensure that they don’t miss out on the 2022 World Cup.
From 2000 to 2014, the USA qualified for every single World Cup finals. That was seven straight tournaments but then disaster struck. The American side failed by just a point to clinch a place in the 2018 World Cup finals.
Their final qualifier was away to bottom-of-the-table Trinidad & Tobago, who had one win in seven games. The USA found themselves 2-0 down inside 37 minutes and eventually lost 2-1. That ended all hopes of even making it into the play-offs.
In this 2022 World Cup qualifying group, the USA are second three points behind Mexico with the top three making it to Qatar. There’s a point lead over Canada and they are three ahead of fourth placed Panama. Finishing fourth takes you in to the Inter Confederation play-offs.
The first two qualifiers failed to produce a win, with a draw in El Salvador and a home stalemate with Canada. Up next was a trip to Honduras in September and the nerves began to multiply as they went a goal down in the first half.
They got back level in the second half, but it was still 1-1 going into the 75th minute. Late goals saw the USA win 4-1 and back on track for a trip to Qatar. Last month saw them beat Jamaica 2-0 at home, thanks to two goals from Ricardo Peri.
Then came the away game to Panama, who qualified for the last finals in 2018. The home side stunned the USA with a 1-0 home win. More problems soon occurred in the home game against Costa Rica. The visitors took the lead in the first minute, only for a comeback to see them win 2-1 thanks to an own goal.
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Two of the final eight games are against group leaders Mexico. That’s the next qualifier on November 12. The hope will be that by the final game away in Costa Rica on March 30, qualification will already have been confirmed. That can’t be guaranteed though.
Only one of their last 15 games has been lost but away form in the World Cup qualifiers is a worry. Just two out of the last 11 have been won. The USA still have to go to Jamaica, Canada, Mexico and Costa Rica. On the flip side, after the visit of Mexico, there are three remaining home games against El Salvador, Honduras, and Panama.
With two losses in the last 38 home World Cup qualifiers, they should be able to get six points against El Salvador, and Honduras (currently in the bottom two and without an away win) before hopefully getting some revenge on Panama.
The USA are currently ranked 13th in the world, just a place below Germany. There might be a few hiccups on the road, but it looks like a case of Qatar here we come!