Team USA is back in the World Cup and will face daunting challenge when it goes onto the Pitch in Qatar to meet England.
Excerpted from The Wall Street Journal 4.1.2022
DOHA, Qatar—Eight years after its last appearance at the World Cup, the U.S. men’s national soccer team learned its fate for the 2022 tournament in Qatar on Friday. And even in a random draw, the result felt somehow inevitable: The U.S. will have to face England.
The other two opponents on the Americans’ road through the group stage are Iran, ranked No. 21 in the world, and one of Scotland, Wales, or Ukraine, pending the results of a playoff.
Nothing in that group, however, will draw the attention of England-U.S. on the day after Thanksgiving.
Elsewhere, the host nation Qatar landed with Senegal, the Netherlands, and its opponent for the opening game of the tournament, Ecuador. The customary “Group of Death,” meanwhile, never quite materialized, but five-time champion Brazil landed with a challenging trio in Serbia, Switzerland, and Cameroon. Defending champion France has a comparatively smoother road with a group featuring Denmark, Tunisia, and a team that has yet to be determined from South America or Asia.
There are already potential blockbusters on the cards from the quarterfinals, should the group stage go according to form: England vs. France, Netherlands vs. Argentina, and Spain vs. Brazil.
For the U.S., the first major clash will come much sooner. The last time the Americans met the game’s inventors at a World Cup was in Rustenburg, South Africa, in 2010 when they salvaged a 1-1 draw thanks to a mistake from England goalkeeper Robert Green. The U.S. was ultimately eliminated by Ghana in the round of 16.
Top photo – Chrisitian Pulisic