American soccer success in men’s World Cup remains a dream

Dec 3, 2022, 2:49 PM | Updated: Dec 4, 2022, 11:22 am

Weston McKennie of the United States leaves the pitch at the end of the World Cup round of 16 socce...

Weston McKennie of the United States leaves the pitch at the end of the World Cup round of 16 soccer match between the Netherlands and the United States, at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha, Qatar, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022. The Netherlands won 3-1. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)

(AP Photo/Luca Bruno)

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — American success in the men’s World Cup remains a dream.

The U.S. team looked better this year, but the results were the same as in 2010 and 2014. The Americans were eliminated in the round of 16 following a 3-1 defeat to the Netherlands on Saturday.

“We’ve shown that we can compete with top-tier teams and we just want to change the narrative because we think, obviously, over the past years we haven’t gotten enough respect for U.S. soccer and for the way that we play,” midfielder Weston McKennie said. “I think we accomplished a piece of that in this World Cup.”


Expectations were high for a team with a core of young, rising stars who play in some of the top European leagues.

No North and Central American and Caribbean nation has reached the semifinals since the U.S. in 1930.

Draws against Wales and England were followed by a 1-0 win over Iran that assured a spot in the knockout rounds, and the U.S. achieved the minimum to avoid being branded a failure. Going home after the group stage would have been a disappointment given the expectations for the team coach Gregg Berhalter rebuilt.


Berhalter was hired in December 2018 from Major League Soccer’s Columbus Crew at the recommendation of Earnie Stewart, now the U.S. sporting director.

Berhalter took over 14 months after the U.S. lost at Trinidad and Tobago, failing to qualify for the World Cup in Russia and ending a streak of seven straight appearances in the tournament. A segment of fans repeatedly criticized him for his roster selections and tactics and some would prefer a foreign coach with more European experience.

His contract expires this month — he was paid $1.29 million in the fiscal year ending in March 2021, according to the U.S. Soccer Federation’s latest financial statement. Berhalter has led the Americans to 37 wins, 11 losses and 12 draws.

After the defeat to the Dutch, Berhalter wouldn’t say whether he wanted to stay on.

“In the next couple of weeks I’ll clear my head, I’ll sit down and I’ll think about what’s next,” he said.

Defender Tim Ream, 35, was the oldest player on a 26-man roster that was the tournament’s second youngest. He stood motionless at the final whistle and his voice cracked when talking about the experience.

“Just thinking about the journey, really, where I’ve really been, where I’ve come from,” he said. “I’ve been in the program for 12 years and never guaranteed anything. Obviously, a lot of these guys are guaranteed another World Cup and for me that’s not going to happen — and trying to convey to treat each and every training session as if it was their last, each and every game as if it was their last.”


A core group is led by Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie (both 24), Tyler Adams (23) and Yunus Musah (20), joined by Tim Weah and Brenden Aaronson (both 22) and Gio Reyna (20).

“We didn’t qualify for the last World Cup and here we are in the round of 16. We’ve definitely come a long way,” Pulisic said. “There’s, for sure, moments that we can be proud of. But we don’t want to feel like this again, and we want to put ourselves in a position to win tournaments like this.”

Central defender and striker remained unsettled for much of the past cycle. Defenders Miles Robinson (25) and Chris Richards (22) missed the World Cup because of injuries.

Gabriel Slonina, an 18-year-old goalkeeper joining Chelsea next month, appears to be the top American prospect. Midfielder Paxten Aaronson, Brenden’s 19-year-old brother, joins Eintracht Frankfurt. Ricardo Pepi (19) was overlooked for the U.S. roster after leading the teams strikers with three goals in qualifying.

More than a dozen players eligible for the under-20 team are with European clubs, though most are not seeing first-team playing time. Whether any emerge is hard to predict. For every Pulisic and Reyna that become regulars as teenagers, 10 or 20 stall.


The CONCACAF Gold Cup is from June 26 to July 16 and most Europe-based players should be available. Because the U.S. will have an automatic berth for the 2026 World Cup as a co-host, next year’s Gold Cup will be one of the few opportunities in the cycle to have the core group available for competitive matches.


AP World Cup coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/world-cup and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Associated Press

Ex-Packer Guion gets 1 year for domestic violence assault

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Former Green Bay Packers defensive tackle Letroy Guion was sentenced to one year in jail after pleading no contest in a domestic violence assault at his home last fall. Brown County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Walsh also ordered Guion on Tuesday to serve three years’ probation and complete a domestic […]

1 year ago

Joe Jarzynka...

Associated Press

Durant eager for Suns debut vs. Hornets after knee injury

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Kevin Durant has been through quite a bit during his 15-year NBA career — but joining a new team midway through the season is a new one for the 13-time All-Star. The 34-year-old Durant doesn’t seem all that worried. Durant makes his highly anticipated Phoenix Suns debut on Wednesday night against […]

1 year ago

FILE - Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores stands on the sideline during the second half of an N...

Associated Press

Judge: NFL coach can press discrimination claims in court

NEW YORK (AP) — NFL Coach Brian Flores can pursue some of his discrimination claims against the league and its teams in court rather than through arbitration, a judge ruled Wednesday. The written decision by Judge Valerie Caproni in Manhattan was issued months after lawyers for the league tried to get the lawsuit moved to […]

1 year ago

Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Alex Stalock cools off in the first period during an NHL hockey game ...

Associated Press

Kane trade reinforces hard reality of Blackhawks rebuild

CHICAGO (AP) — After days of speculation, the harsh reality of the Chicago Blackhawks’ situation was reinforced by one move in a flurry of transactions ahead of the NHL trade deadline. Showtime is over, at least in Chicago, and a seemingly bright future is, well, way off in the distance. The reverberations of Chicago’s decision […]

1 year ago

FILE -  Yves Jean-Bart, president of the Haitian Football Federation, wearing a protective face mas...

Associated Press

Disgraced ex-Haitian soccer president announces he’s back

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Haiti’s former soccer federation president whose lifetime ban from sport over sexual abuse allegations was overturned last month announced Wednesday that he is reclaiming his position. Yves Jean-Bart’s defiant announcement could lead to a standoff with FIFA, which already has appointed an emergency management committee to lead the Haitian Football Association […]

1 year ago

FILE - Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers walks off the field after an NFL football game against the ...

Associated Press

Rodgers says decision on future will come ‘soon enough’

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Aaron Rodgers says he will make a decision on his future “soon enough” as the four-time MVP quarterback ponders whether to play next season and if his future remains with the Green Bay Packers. Rodgers, 39, discussed his future while speaking on an episode of the “Aubrey Marcus Podcast” that […]

1 year ago

American soccer success in men’s World Cup remains a dream