The USMNT Only Has 2 More Games Before The World Cup
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The U.S. men’s national team can breathe a sigh of relief after finishing World Cup qualifying in March with just enough points (and goals) to ensure its spot among the 32 teams in Qatar. The team can also take a bit of a break, as there are just two matches remaining on the 2022 USMNT schedule before the start of the 2022 World Cup in November.
On March 30, the USMNT qualified for the 2022 World Cup after missing the previous edition. Two days later, the Americans learned their group in that tournament. World Cup showdowns against England, Iran and Wales will be the showcase of 2022 for U.S. Soccer. Before that, Gregg Berhalter’s team doesn’t have much left on the schedule.
After playing 15 games in six months during World Cup qualifying, the 2022 USMNT schedule included four more matches in June. There remains one FIFA-sanctioned international window before the World Cup kicks off in Qatar. There are no summer tournaments. Two matches remain during the window in September. That’s it. We’re a couple of games away the World Cup.
2022 USMNT Schedule
June 1 — Friendly: USMNT 3, Morocco 0
June 5 — Friendly USMNT 0, Uruguay 0
June 10 — Concacaf Nations League: USMNT 5, Grenada 0
June 14 — Concacaf Nations League: USMNT 1, El Salvador 1
Sept. 23 — Friendly vs. Japan, Time/Location TBD (ESPN, Univision)
Sept. 27 — Friendly vs. Saudi Arabia, Murcia, Spain (FS1, Univision)
Nov. 21 — World Cup Group Stage vs. Wales, Al Rayyan, Qatar, 2 p.m. ET (FOX)
Nov. 25 — World Cup Group Stage vs. England, Al Khor, Qatar, 2 p.m. ET (FOX)
Nov. 29 — World Cup Group Stage vs. Iran, Doha, Qatar, 2 p.m. ET (FOX)
Dec. 3-18 — World Cup Knockout Stage, Qatar (schedule/TV info here)
After the June double window, next up for the 2022 USMNT schedule is a pair of friendlies during the September international window. Because European clubs are all busy with UEFA Nations League matches, the U.S. scheduled games against Asian clubs, likely to help prepare for the World Cup match against Iran.
The first friendly will be played against Japan at a time and location (likely Europe) to be determined on Sept. 23. The second friendly is against Saudi Arabia in Murcia Spain.
After the September friendlies, that’s it for the full national team before the World Cup kicks off on Nov. 21. Clubs are required to release players by Nov. 14 for participation in the World Cup, which runs through Dec. 18.
The U.S. plays on opening day of the World Cup against the winner of the UEFA playoff, meaning Berhalter will only have a week with his full squad. During most World Cup years, national teams are allowed a few weeks to prepare, during which time they play two or three friendlies. This time, because of FIFA’s controversial decision to award the tournament to Qatar and then move the tournament to November-December, teams will have very little time to get ready for the World Cup and no time for exhibition games.
There could be an American workaround. The MLS season ends on Nov. 5, meaning all MLS players will be available a little earlier than those based abroad. Any MLS players on the USMNT roster will likely join up with Berhalter as soon as their team is eliminated from the playoffs. For once, it could be an advantage to have more MLS players on the roster.
Additionally, there is the potential for USMNT friendlies outside of the FIFA-sanctioned windows. The U.S. did this at the end of 2021, when Bosnia and Herzegovina visited Los Angeles for a December friendly between the nations’ C teams. The U.S. could try to squeeze a friendly in after the MLS season and before the international break officially begins.
If there aren’t any friendlies outside of FIFA windows, the USMNT has just two matches before the World Cup begins. The first match on Nov. 21 will be against Wales. The second group-stage match is against England on Nov. 25, Black Friday. The Three Lions are ranked No. 5 in the world and are the class of the group. The last time the Americans played their former colonizers, England won 3-0 in a 2018 friendly in London. The USMNT closes the group stage against Iran, which at 22 in the FIFA rankings presents arguably the easiest of the matches, but it’s by no means a gimme. Iran beat the U.S. in their only World Cup meeting in 1998.
If the USMNT gets out of the group stage, it will open the knockout rounds on Dec. 3 or 4 against a team from Group A. The quarterfinals would be on either Dec. 9 or 10 followed by the semifinals (Dec. 13-14) and third-place match/final (Dec. 17-18).
So to summarize the remaining 2022 USMNT schedule, the Americans play two friendlies in September and the World Cup in November and, if they get out of the group stage, December.
Compared to the USMNT schedule in 2018, it’s gonna be a great year.