With Brimming Optimism/Deafening Pessimism, Here Are The18’s 2022 Soccer Predictions

Of all the years in the 2020s, 2021 was probably the least bad one. Maybe. But worry not; 2022 can’t possibly be as bad as the first two years of the decade, right? According to our 2022 soccer predictions, it’s going to be the best year ever, or at least the best of the last three. 

Looking at the calendar, 2022 promises to be a good year for soccer fans, starting with the Africa Cup of Nations in January and concluding with the men’s World Cup final on Dec. 18. In between, we’ll find out if the USMNT can make it back to a World Cup, if the USWNT qualifies for the 2023 Women’s World Cup, who wins the Women’s Euros and, if we’re lucky, maybe someone will explain crypto to us. 

Who will win the World Cup? How will the U.S. men’s and women’s national teams perform? Who will win The18’s annual foosball tournament? These are all the questions we know you readers want to know, so we’ve put all our best people on our 2022 soccer predictions. 

When these predictions pan out correctly, remember the soothsayers who looked into the future; when these predictions are completely wrong, feel free to set this page on fire so there is no evidence of our awful predictions.

(If you’re more in the mood to look back than look forward, check out The18 d’Or, our definitive awards for the best of soccer in 2021.)

The18’s 18 2022 Soccer Predictions

1. Do the USMNT and Mexico qualify for the World Cup?

Colby Conetta (Sales Support Associate): Yes
Connor Fleming (Staff Writer): Yes
Mariel McCown (Cinematographer & Editor): Yes
David Moore (Staff Writer): Yes
Thiago Najman Nejm* (Social Media): No
Luis Vidal (Staff Writer): Yes, both. Not sure who will be first and who will be third, but Canada will be between both.
Travis Yoesting (Staff Writer): Yes

2. Does the USWNT qualify for the 2023 Women’s World Cup?

CC: Yes
CF: Yes — without conceding a goal
MM: Yes
DM: Yes
TN: Yes
LV: Walking. Having four slots for grabs, Mexico will take one, too.
TY: Duh

3. Who finishes Top 4 and who is relegated in the Premier League?

CC: Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Manchester United / Norwich, Newcastle, Watford
CF: City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal / Norwich, Burnley, Watford
MM: City, Liverpool, West Ham, Chelsea / Norwich, Watford, Burnley
DM: Man City, Liverpool, Chelsea, West Ham / Norwich, Burnley, Leeds
TN: Man City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal / Norwich, Burnley, Leeds
LV: Liverpool, Man City, Chelsea, Man United (sorry Arsenal)/ Watford, Burnley, Norwich
TY: Man City, Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal / Norwich, Burnley, Watford

4. Who wins the men’s and Women’s Champions Leagues?

CC: Bayern Munich / Lyon
CF: Bayern Munich / Barcelona
MM: Bayern Munich / Barcelona
DM: Chelsea / Barcelona
LV: Man City / Barcelona
TY: Manchester City / Barcelona

5. Who wins the Women’s Euros?

CC: Sweden
CF: England
MM: Netherlands
DM: Spain
TN: France
LV: Netherlands
TY: England

6. How far do the USMNT and Mexico go in the World Cup?

CC: USMNT: Round of 16 / Mexico: Group Stage
CF: Round of 16 (both)
MM: USMNT: Round of 16 / Mexico: Group Stage
DM: Round of 16 (both)
TN: USMNT: Group stage / Mexico: Doesn’t qualify
LV: No further than quarterfinals (both)
TY: Round of 16 (both)

7. What will be the major storylines off the pitch at the Qatar World Cup?

CC: How certain player injuries will affect club season, human rights violations by Qatar, lack of adequate infrastructure in the country, protests outside stadiums
CF: A few national teams — and more will join – have already said they’re thinking of ways to use their platforms to speak out against Qatar’s human rights abuses. We’ll see how that all unfolds during the tournament and how it’s covered on FOX
MM: National team players adopt stray dogs
DM: Omicron 2
TN: How all the sexy Brazilian fans make Qatar question their LGBTQ+ laws
LV: Human rights, Covid-19, luxury and how fucking hot is outside of the stadiums.
TY: LGBTQ+ discrimination, lack of housing/alcohol/things to do in Qatar

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8. What will be the biggest storyline on the pitch at the World Cup?

CC: Jamal Musiala, the newest wonderkid on the block
CF: A young U.S. squad looking to make an impact, as well as a World Cup in which both Argentina and Brazil are among the favorites again
MM: Stray dogs keep getting into stadiums
DM: Messi and Argentina make it to the final but don’t win again and we see him cry again and everyone is sad
TN: Vini Jr becoming the next Pelé
LV: Because the World Cup is being played in November, the timing will be used by pundits to explain good games, bad games, injuries or whatever
TY: Neymar getting injured in the semifinals, winning the Golden Ball anyway

9. Who wins the World Cup?

CC: Germany
CF: Brazil
MM: Brazil
TN: Brazil
LV: England, sadly
TY: Brazil

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10. Biggest USWNT story of the year?

CC: Rising stardom of Catarina Macario and Trinity Rodman
CF: The breakout player of the Concacaf W Championship — maybe Catarina Macario having a big performance
MM: Tobin Heath and Christen Press finally get engaged
DM: Megan Rapinoe retires
TN: Catarina Macario because she’s Brazilian
LV: The rebuilding of the team, and how to incorporate the new talent (Macario, Rodman) into the squad
TY: Megan Rapinoe retires

11. Biggest USMNT story of the year?

CC: Gio Reyna picking up where his dad left off
CF: You gotta believe it’s going to be Christian Pulisic providing us with one truly memorable moment at the World Cup
MM: U.S. men’s players donate portions of their salaries to USWNT to make up pay gap
DM: A last-minute winner in the group stage
TN: Losing to Brazil 7-1 at the World Cup
LV: The squad Berhalter will take to Qatar. Who will be in? Who will be out? It’s going to be the same with Mexico and Martino
TY: Getting robbed by the VAR in the Round of 16

12. Biggest American Transfer?

CC: Weston McKennie to Premier League
CF: Ricardo Pepi to Borussia Dortmund for $15 million
MM: Pepi to Atlético Madrid
DM: Christian Pulisic to Bayern Munich
TN: Pulisic to Real Madrid
LV: McKennie leaving Juventus
TY: McKennie to Premier League

13. Who wins MLS and NWSL?

CC: Nashville SC / Portland Thorns
CF: Minnesota United / NJ/NY Gotham FC
MM: Seattle Sounders / Washington Spirit
DM: New England Revs / San Diego Wave
TN: Don’t care, I’m from Brazil
LV: New England Revs / San Diego Wave
TY: New England Revs / Portland Thorns

14. Best men’s and women’s clubs?

CC: Bayern Munich / Lyon
CF: Bayern Munich / Barcelona
MM: Bayern Munich / Barcelona
DM: Manchester City / Barcelona
TN: Flamengo / Flamengo
LV: Man City / Barcelona
TY: Man City / Portland Thorns

15. Best men’s and best women’s player?

CC: Erling Haaland / Catarina Macario
CF: Kylian Mbappé / Alexia Putellas
MM: Mbappé / Vivianne Miedema
DM: Lionel Messi / Jenni Hermoso
TN: Neymar / Marta
LV: Robert Lewandowski / Putellas
TY: Mbappé / Lindsey Horan

16. Biggest surprise?

CC: Ousmane Dembélé
CF: Gavi being a force of nature at the World Cup
MM: Cristiano Ronaldo retires
DM: Erling Haaland transfers to Arsenal
TN: Brazil winning the World Cup without conceding a goal
LV: Villarreal
TY: USMNT tops group of death

17. Biggest disappointment?

CC: Harry Kane
CF: Belgium at the World Cup
MM: PSG falls to third in Ligue 1
DM: Cristiano Ronaldo misses his last World Cup
TN: Every team that’s not Brazil
LV: Portugal not being in the WC. At team level, Barcelona adding a new failure, now in the Europa League
TY: USMNT loses to Ghana in Round of 16 at the World Cup

18. Who has the better year: Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi?

CC: Messi
CF: Messi. Ronaldo doesn’t play in the World Cup after Portugal is eliminated by Italy in the playoffs
MM: Messi
DM: Messi
TN: It doesn’t matter. Both of them will be eclipsed by Neymar and Vinícius Júnior
LV: Messi. Ronaldo is going to be out of the World Cup
TY: Messi

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What The18 Is Looking Forward To The Most In Soccer In 2022

Colby Conetta: Since the World Cup itself is shady and the winter timeframe isn’t ideal, I want to see America go absolutely bonkers for the USMNT’s (hopeful) qualification. Aside from winning games in the tournament itself, nothing quite compares to the feeling of securing a spot in the final 32, knowing your nation has a chance to play for the biggest trophy in global sports. If the U.S. avenges the demons of October 2017, what happens after that is all gravy. Let’s just get in the damn thing. 

Connor Fleming: The USMNT playing at Allianz Field in early February. Minnesota WoSo in the USL W League. World Cup games on Thanksgiving. 

Mariel McCown: I’m looking forward to watching the U.S. men at the 2022 World Cup, seeing if Mexico can break its Round of 16 curse and seeing who takes the Champions League title this year. Hopefully Christen Press and Tobin Heath will make their relationship official, and maybe more American fans will start watching MLS and NWSL.

David Moore: I’m dying to see the USMNT in the World Cup. It’s a sight I’ve longed to see. I still remember the rush of euphoria when John Brooks scored that header against Ghana. I haven’t felt something like that in a long time.

Thiago Najman Nejm: Watching Brazil win the World Cup.

Luis Vidal: The World Cup, even if Chile can’t qualify, because in my calendar the year has 48 months, not 12 nor 24, FIFA. Close second, Universidad Catolica’s campaign in Copa Libertadores.

Travis Yoesting: I’m looking forward to seeing how much the media ignores all of Qatar’s human rights atrocities during the World Cup. Just like in 2018 with Russia, once the tournament kicks off, everyone will forget about all the death and discrimination at the hands of the host nation’s government. 

Bonus: The18’s 2022 Predictions About The18

Who at The18 scores the winning goal at our annual friendly?

CC: Thiago
CF: The snowbank that’s formed in the area
MM: Probably Thiago, he always wins stupid stuff like that
DM: Someone we haven’t hired yet
TN: Me
LV: Saul
TY: Daylon

Who at The18 will win our annual foosball tournament?

CC: Marz (redemption arc)
CF: Jenkins + 1
MM: Hopefully Marz because she took getting second place this year pretty hard
DM: Mattadeus Jenkins
TN: Me
LV: Connor
TY: Marz

Who at The18 is most likely to end up in a Qatari jail?

CC: David
CF: The entire team for one giant public display of affection
MM: Definitely David Moore
DM: Travis
TN: Me
LV: David
TY: David

Who at The18 is most likely to get injured playing soccer?

CC: David (hamstring)
CF: Travis in the calf
MM: Also David Moore
DM: Ya boy
TN: David
LV: David (hamstring)
TY: My calf

Who at The18 is most likely to get all of these answers right?

CC: Travis
CF: Leon the Chameleon, if he was still with us
MM: Connor, silent killer
DM: Ya boy
TN: Me
LV: Marz
TY: Connor

Who at The18 is most likely to get all of these answers wrong?

CC: Thiago
CF: Thiago
MM: Thiago
DM: Thiago
TN: Me*
LV: Thiago
TY: Thiago

* — Thiago left the country for Brazil for the holidays before giving his responses, so The18 made up his answers for him, even before everyone picked him to get all the answers wrong. 

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