Previous appearances at the World Cup: 1930, 1934, 1950, 1990, 1994, 1998, 2002, 2006, 2010, 2014
Better finish: Semi-finals (1930)
World Cup record: W8, D6, L19
Biggest win: 3-0 against Belgium (1930)
Player to watch: Christian Pulisic
Fixtures: Wales (November 21), England (November 25), Iran (November 29)
The United States is among the best in the world and the sports they invented. But they were never a footballing powerhouse.
When they hosted the 1994 World Cup, serious proposals were made to make the event more attractive to sponsors, such as splitting matches into four quarters and having bigger goals.
Despite criticism of awarding the World Cup to an under-educated country, it remained very successful and drew nearly 70,000 spectators on average.
Plus, qualifying for 10 World Cup tournaments is no small feat, especially for a country without a professional league for much of that time. The North American Soccer League, founded in 1967, collapsed in 1984 and Major League Soccer was not created until 1993.
At that first-ever World Cup in Uruguay in 1930, the United States beat Paraguay and Belgium before being beaten 6-1 in the semi-finals by Argentina. Interest in soccer has waned for decades in the United States, with faster, more successful sports such as American football and basketball taking center stage.
Apart from a brief appearance to finish bottom of their group in the 1950 tournament, the United States did not qualify for another World Cup until 1990 – when another barrel-scraping performance saw the Americans eliminated .
Hosting the World Cup in 1994, a spirited 1-0 loss to Brazil saw the United States go through to the round of 16 – their best World Cup performance of the modern era. In the 2002 event hosted by South Korea and Japan, they went all the way to the quarter-finals, where they were sent home by a towering header from Germany’s Michael Ballack.
A winless appearance in the 2006 tournament ensured another four quiet years for American football. But a solid performance at South Africa 2010, with draws against England and Slovenia, and a crucial victory against Algeria, again saw the United States qualify for the round of 16 before to be sent home by the Black Stars of Ghana.
Four years later, however, the United States got their revenge by beating Ghana in their Brazil 2014 opener. A draw against Portugal kept the race going until Belgium again put end to his dreams in the round of 16.
The team looks good this time around. His qualifying run saw an unbeaten home record.
Watch out for Christian Pulisic – ‘Captain America’ – whose 84 appearances for Chelsea in the English Premier League and 90 for Borussia Dortmund in Germany have earned him no less than 33 goals.
Qatar 2022 sees the United States in arguably the most competitive group at the tournament, facing off to a stellar England and Wales.
Keep an eye out for likely banter surrounding the Wales match, after the purchase (and ‘Welcome to Wrexham’ documentary) of Wrexham AFC by Canada’s Ryan Reynolds and Philadelphia’s Rob McElhenney brought the flavor of Welsh football to new audiences in the United States and beyond.