The start of the 2018 World Cup qualifiers for the U.S. men’s national team couldn’t be worse.
It started with two quick losses.The first game was a loss to Mexico and ended all negotiations with a 2-1 loss to El Tri in Columbus. Two to zero for the time being. Then came the disastrous trip to Costa Rica, an unforgettable 4-0 defeat, which was the last game coached by Jurgen Klinsmann.
Moreover, from this perspective, USMNT’s start to the 2022 World Cup qualifier cycle does not look so bad. Knowing what we know about the previous cycle, when the United States prepares to host Canada to participate in their second qualifying game, things really need some perspective.
In 2018, Mexico won only two of the five away games to beat Hex, one of which was against USMNT in the aforementioned opener. Costa Rica, who finished second, also won two victories, including defeating the American team at the Red Bull Arena later in the cycle.
Considering the two additional teams, the cycle is different, but a point on the road is never a devastating blow. Therefore, considering the talent gap between the two, the USMNT draw against El Salvador is certainly not an ideal result, but this is CONCACAF, and the talent gap is not important.
However, points are really important, and because of the 0-0 draw in El Salvador on Thursday night, the conflict with Canada on Sunday brought even more pressure. With the tie, the hope of the 9-point window disappeared, but any situation below 5 points will be a difficult start to the opening three games.
In order to reach that five-point mark, the United States needs to win and draw in the upcoming games against Canada and Honduras. If they reach this goal, the United States will feel good in the three games into November. Less, there must be reasons to worry, because catching up at CONCACAF is never ideal.
“Our goal on Sunday is to win the game,” USMNT boss Gregg Berhalter said. “This is what we want to do. I don’t think the results on Thursday night will change this at all.
“Our focus is to play a great game. We are focused on winning this game. In our home games and World Cup qualifiers, you want to win.”
In the past eight games, the United States has only scored three goals, two of which were against Mexico in the National League final. Since that game, they have never conceded a goal in the Open, and, with Miles Robinson and Tim Reem as central defenders, they have never received much threat against El Salvador. . John Brooks may still be the team’s best central defender and is expected to participate in the Canadian game.
But worry is not defensive; they are offensive. Josh Sargent is active, but relatively ineffective. Jordan Pefok had glorious moments when he started his USMNT career, but it is still an unproven commodity. Moreover, in general, the United States lacks acuity and mobility with El Salvador, and Berhalt said his team’s offense is too individualistic.
“Looking back at this game, we had 1.6 expected goals, so we should score in that game, but we didn’t,” Berhalt said. “I think we are creating opportunities. I want more opportunities, no doubt.
“When you take a comprehensive look and talk about qualifying, the game is very tense. In these games, the differences between all the teams are not big, so we know the game will be difficult. We know this, especially when you go When we are on the road, we should prepare for the worst and still have the intention and mentality to go out and win these games.
“We will regroup on Sunday, but we will also move forward to Wednesday, which is another opportunity after Sunday, so that we can get on the road and have another experience.”
However, before that, the United States will have to play another difficult game with Canada, and this team is undoubtedly rising in the region.
The Canadian team with stars such as Alfonso Davis, Jonathan David, Ser Lalin and Tajon Buchanan has top young players from all over Europe and Major League Soccer. This is also a team with limited experience in World Cup qualifiers, because in recent years Canadian football as a whole has made huge leaps in Central, North America and the Caribbean.
Like the United States, this Canadian team is very young. And, like the United States, Canada is eager to regain its strength after a disappointing draw with Toronto in a 1-1 draw with Honduras in the opening game.
Therefore, both teams will face an early test in the second of the 14 games, as the United States and Canada have the opportunity to set the tone for the remaining qualifying after a tepid start.
“They are very similar. We do have similar groups,” Berhalt said. “When you look at the level of experience in the World Cup qualifiers, it is pretty equal. I don’t know how they will treat the game. I, I know. They are well-trained, I know they have a good team, and I believe they will be prepared.
“Now it’s up to us to do the same thing and let us show the right attitude in the game, which we have been proving for the past few months.
“Now this is a home game where we can play in front of the fans. This is the moment we have been waiting for.”
As Berhalter said, this is the game the United States has been waiting for since Trinidad and Tobago four years ago. This game gives them the opportunity to pave the way for Qatar 2022.
However, although there is still a long way to go, as the United States hopes to re-lay the foundation for their qualifying, this game now also brings pressure.