The 2022 World Cup Draw Gives USMNT Fans Grounds for Optimism

There's still one big variable, though

FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Final Draw
General view inside the venue during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Final Draw at the Doha Exhibition Center on April 01, 2022 in Doha, Qatar.
Michael Regan - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images

If you’re feeling a sense of deja vu for 2010 right now, you’re not alone — just as it was in that year’s World Cup group stage, the United States will face off against England this year in the early days of the tournament. (Twelve years ago, the result was a less-than-thrilling 1-1 draw.) Both national teams were drawn as part of Group B earlier on Friday when FIFA held the draw for this winter’s World Cup.

Rounding out their group? Iran and the winner of a European playoff game to take place in June between Wales and the winner of a postponed game between Scotland and Ukraine. England and Iran will be matched up to kick off the round, while the United States will play Wales, Scotland or Ukraine on November 21.

In 2014, the UMSNT found itself in a “Group of Death” with Germany, Portugal and Ghana. At least on paper, this is an easier group for the U.S. — but aside from the likelihood that England will finish atop the group, it still feels somewhat open in terms of advancing to the knockout stage. That, for USMNT manager Gregg Berhalter, is the primary goal for this tournament.

The USMNT has arguably its strongest roster of players ever — but the team has looked inconsistent at times, in part due to key players being injured. By the time of the World Cup, the team’s top two goalkeepers will also both likely be playing for high-profile Premier League teams — Zach Steffen at Manchester City and Matt Turner at Arsenal — but in backup roles.

As for their prospective opponents, Wales features an attack utilizing the still-dangerous Gareth Bale; Scotland has been on a long unbeaten kick; and as for Ukraine, it’s hard to argue with the power of narrative, and they’d have a deeply compelling one. It’s going to be an interesting November.

The full array of groups follows:

Group A: Qatar, Ecuador, Senegal, Netherlands
Group B: England, Iran, USA, European play-off winner
Group C: Argentina, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Poland
Group D: France, Intercontinental play-off winner #1, Denmark, Tunisia
Group E: Spain, Intercontinental play-off winner #2, Germany, Japan
Group F: Belgium, Canada, Morocco, Croatia
Group G: Brazil, Serbia, Switzerland, Cameroon
Group H: Portugal, Ghana, Uruguay, South Korea

This year’s World Cup seems to lack an obvious Group of Death — though Group F (with Belgium, Canada, Morocco and Croatia) might well have the best claim to that distinction.

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