Young U.S. Men's Soccer Team Sees Path Back to World Cup After Missing Last One

The 2022 FIFA World Cup is in sight for the U.S. national men's soccer team, likely only needing to win its last three home games to qualify, the Associated Press reported.

After failing to qualify for the 2018 event, the young American team has three home games and three away games in the next few months that will determine their fate.

The U.S. is in second place in North and Central America and the Caribbean, sitting behind Canada and ahead of Mexico and Panama.

The next World Cup is scheduled to take place in Qatar from November 21 to December 18, 2022.

According to an AP report, if the U.S. wins its home games against El Salvador (January 27), Honduras (February 2) and Panama (March 27), it could give them enough points to qualify.

The American team is very young, with 26 of the 34 members making their qualifying debuts over the last eight matches. The captain, Tyler Adams, is 22.

"When we look at the table, we're obviously still in a good position," Adams said. "We have a lot of home games coming up. So in this next window it's going to be super important we continue to win our home games, get points on the road when we can."

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

U.S. men's soccer, World Cup qualifiers
The United States and Jamaica faced off in the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers on Tuesday night, tying 1-1. Above, U.S. players applaud their fans in Kingston, Jamaica, on Tuesday night. Fernando Llano/AP Photo

These young Americans stumbled on the road again in qualifying, wasting an early lead in a choppy 1-1 draw against Jamaica on Tuesday night.

The U.S. has a superior goal difference (+7) to Mexico (+4) and Panama (+2), on track to claim one of the region's three berths.

"Obviously, we've grown by experiences and playing together and then getting the time, getting the games," goalkeeper Zack Steffen said. "Our depth has shown and we've got to continue to strive for bigger goals."

Christian Pulisic hasn't started a match since spraining his left ankle on September 8. Gio Reyna hasn't played since injuring his right hamstring in the September 2 opener, Sergiño Dest missed both November qualifiers with a bad back and Weston McKennie was dropped for two qualifiers for breaking team COVID-19 rules and missed the match at Jamaica for yellow-card accumulation.

Still, the U.S. trails only a Canadian team that has four separate trips to Central America among its final six games.

"I think we're on the right track. We're basically having to get the guys experience on the fly," U.S. coach Gregg Berhalter said. "It's really learning as you go."

The U.S. has taken 10 of 12 points at home, following a 1-1 draw against Canada with wins against Jamaica, Costa Rica and Mexico. The Americans have gained five of 12 possible points on the road, drawing at El Salvador and Jamaica, winning at Honduras and losing at Panama.

"The first window was a major learning experience for us in terms of how to mentally prepare for these three games and get through the travel and the whole—everything, we needed that window," Berhalter said.

"And we got five points, went undefeated, but we dipped below two points per game. And then the next two windows we maintained the two points-per-game ratio (1.875), and that's pretty good. When you think about the youth of this group, the inexperience of this group in CONCACAF qualifying, we're on the right track."

Ricardo Pepi has three goals, Brenden Aaronson two and Dest, Pulisic, McKennie, Antonee Robinson, Tim Weah and Sebastian Lletget one each. Lletget (29) is the oldest scorer, while Robinson is 24, Pulisic and McKennie 23, Aaronson, Dest and Weah 21, and Pepi 18.

Weah's 11th-minute goal put the Americans on track for a road win Tuesday night before Michail Antonio's stunning 34-yard strike in the 22nd tied the score for the Reggae Boyz.

"We've grown a lot, and I think one thing that we've really shown is the depth of our team," Adams said. "Everyone has had now the experience of playing in away games, playing at home games, what the difference is and what it requires that you need. So, yeah, I think that going into now the second half of qualifying, we know exactly what we need to do."

Tyler Adams, U.S. men's soccer
If the United States men's soccer team wins its next three home games, they will likely qualify for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. Above, U.S. team captain Tyler Adams (4) reacts during a qualifying match against Jamaica on Tuesday night in Kingston, Jamaica. Fernando Llano/AP Photo