Editorial Use Only Mandatory Credit: Photo by Dave Shopland/Shutterstock (13640320ah) USA fans are seen celebrating in the stands. Iran v USA, FIFA World Cup 2022, Group B, Football, Al Thumama Stadium, Doha, Qatar – 29 Nov 2022
Fred Faour: US gets at least one more game in the World Cup, and it means a lot
The United States advanced out of the group stage of the World Cup with a tense, hard-fought 1-0 win over Iran, and it means a lot for US soccer moving forward.
This US team will be better in 2026, when the US, Canada, and Mexico host the event. But getting out of the group stage this year is a big deal.
The World Cup is special. It is an event where national pride comes to the forefront. The US team missed the Cup four years ago, and it left a gap. The Cup was still huge, but to make soccer bigger in America, it was a setback.
Because in America, casual fans join true soccer fans at every World Cup. Bars are packed as Americans pull together to root for their country. The nationalism behind the Cup gives us all something to cheer for as we hang on every play. It was a concern that the event is being held in November this year, going up against football. The weather in Qatar made the usual summer months untenable. The Cup has little competition in the US on a normal schedule.
Despite that fear, almost 20 million people watched the US-England draw, a game that set America up to advance with Tuesday’s win.
Soccer has grown in America, as youth leagues have become bigger and bigger over the past 20 years. But this is the world’s game. It’s difficult to make a dent against countries where soccer has been the sport for decades. As Americans, we want to be the best at everything.
Our best athletes go to football, basketball, hockey, baseball. That’s slowly changing, but America remains well behind other countries in soccer. The MLS is a nice league, but the best soccer is played in Europe. Americans don’t embrace third-level leagues.
This US team is led by Christian Pulisic, who is a star for Chelsea, one of the biggest names in one of the biggest leagues in the world, the EPL. America needs more of those players, and they are slowly getting them. (Pulisic scored the goal against Iran on Tuesday).
That’s why 2026 is going to be important. The hope is this young team will be ready then, and this World Cup experience would be critical in that development. From that perspective, getting out of the group was huge. It also gives us another chance to watch, and for those of us still learning the game, we will have more time to increase our knowledge before the next World Cup.
But this one isn’t over, and it’s also big for bars and restaurants. They will be packed for any games the US has left. Anything from here is gravy. And the excitement will build for 2026.
But first things first, the US gets another game this year. Hopefully more. And we get to enjoy it.