United States Defeated in the Round of 16


Peter Sloniewsky, Editor-in-Chief

After defeating Iran to exit the group stage of the World Cup, the United States has been eliminated after a 3-1 loss to the Netherlands on Saturday.

After two goals by the Netherlands in the first half, increased energy from the US team led to a 76’ goal by midfielder Christian Pulisic. However, this did not slow the Netherlands, who pumped in another goal at 81’. The United States then failed to capitalize for the remainder of the game and was eliminated in what USA head coach Gregg Berhalter called “A difficult one to handle” (NPR).

The US Men’s National Soccer Team (USMNT) has never won a World Cup, or even advanced to the final. They have played in 11 of the 22 tournaments, failing to qualify between 1950 and 1990. They also failed to qualify for Russia 2018 following two Round of 16 advancements in 2010 and 2014. The team has undergone a transformative period since, creating what Iran manager Carlos Queiroz called “the most consistent… and probably even the team that makes the best two performances in the tournament in our group” (MLS). 

North America is set to host the 2026 World Cup, with a number of stadiums utilized in the United States, resulting in automatic qualification for the group stage of the tournament. While the USMNT’s prospects have seemingly never been higher, significant changes must occur in order to fully consider the possibility of a victory in the tournament.

US Soccer President Cindy Cone referred to soccer as a “rich white kid sport”, and stated that she would not “rest until every kid who wants to play our game has not only the access to our game but the opportunity to succeed” (New York Times). The Aspen Institute recently found that the price of a youth soccer season averaged $1,188, and, according to the New York Times, this has resulted in a cycle of bumps and dips in soccer participation in the United States.

The United States lacks the same countrywide support for the sport enjoyed across much of the world. As USMNT 1990 World Cup player Desmond Armstrong put it, “I’ve been hearing about how soccer is growing in America since I played… I am sick of saying we made some strides. We need to go out and win this thing” (NYT). While our team may have improved in recent years, and the prospect of hosting the tournament has the potential to benefit the prevalence of soccer in the United States, we will be hard-pressed to go from World Cup participants to true contenders for the title.