Analyzing Team USA’s Performance in Qatar 2022 and How It Can Improve for 2026


Sadly, Qatar 2022 is over for Team USA, who went out of the round of 16 following a 3-1 loss to the Netherlands. It was never going to be easy, and sportsbooks saw them as outsiders in football betting odds. For the team to return to the U-S-of-A holding the World Cup trophy would have been as much a shock as it would have been a pleasant surprise. In 2026, America will be one of three host nations, and this home advantage should see them receive better odds.

Despite the team’s disappointing end to the tournament, there have been reasons to be cheerful. Below is a look at some of these and how the team can improve by 2026 to pose a stronger challenge to all the other teams that make it to the finals. 

The team have a leader

Tyler Adams, the midfielder, who plays his soccer for UK club Leeds United, was the standout player in America’s Qatar 2022 campaign. He donned the captain’s armband and put in the performance you’d demand of a captain. In the team’s clash against Wales, he put in several tackles for the side and won them; ran more than any other player; and also completed a large number of passes.

More players at European clubs and a depth of talent

As they approached the tournament, the team’s players weren’t as experienced as those of USA sides in days gone by. They do, however, have much more skill and much more speed, and their youthful spirit could carry them far in the next tournament. 

It’s a talented team. In fact, the talent pool is much deeper, and there are more American players in general starting to play at European clubs. There they’re learning from some of the finest coaches in the world and are able to come back with their new-found skills, knowledge and soccer acumen and place it at the service of their national side.

How can Team USA raise its game in time for 2026

In spite of the team’s promising performance, the fact that it didn’t make the knockout stages, something which hasn’t happened since 2010, means there are holes in its game. Clearly, there’s work to do, but time is on its side. The question is, what it should do to improve?

Change the coach

There are some who hold coach Gregg Berhalter responsible for the team’s failure in Qatar. There are many things he got right when he took the reins at the club. He’s recruited well. He’s embraced young soccer players in the country. He’s set up the team well for most of its games, and he’s fostered a more supportive culture on the national side.

However, he hasn’t always been able to get the defense to perform against quality opposition (although it can be stubborn as the team proved in their 0-0 draw with England). The team have struggled and, when energy is low, been inconsistent. Getting the team to become dangerous at set pieces has also been a challenge. Some feel it’s time for a change of coach.

Make the most of team practice, and get players to be adaptable

One of the other challenges the team face is learning how to gel as a team. It’s not possible to buy players for specific roles in national sides. They must be shaped to play in different positions and learn to adapt, even if the formation isn’t perfect. National sides don’t get many opportunities to do this, so the coach must really capitalize on them when they arise.

Improve the striking punch

Team USA is in dire need of more clinical finishing. The clean sheet against England meant the defense had performed solidly, but it exposed America’s failure to finish in front of goal. Major Soccer League in the US has come to be considered boring and low scoring by a lot of people, a perception which the paltry three goals the team netted during the tournament won’t do much to combat. 

The sad thing is that the team have the ability to take the lead, but then find it hard to hold on to it. Being able to build more of a cushion after going ahead could change the US’s games, strike fear into the hearts of goalkeepers and defenses and ease the pressure on itself.

Team USA will have been disappointed to have come home sooner than expected from Qatar, but their performance still brings fresh hope. There’s plenty of time between now and the next World Cup to make changes, work on weaknesses and become a team to reckon with when the US and the teams it faces clash in the finals.



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