MNT 2022 World Cup
United States Men’s National Team. (Photo by USA Today Sports)

Many people recognize that the United States Women’s National Team is great, but this does not translate over to the United States Men’s National Team. While the WNT is winning their fourth World Cup, the MNT is still struggling to qualify. So, this leads to wondering why that is and if the MNT can qualify for the 2022 World Cup.

The Difference

Let’s take a look at why there is a difference between the WNT and the MNT. The first thing to address is the fact that women playing in the US has had arguably more opportunities to play than in other countries. That is changing, but we can still see the differences by analyzing the statistics. The Women’s team went over a year without losing a game, which is hard for anyone.

Men have been playing soccer professionally longer than women have. In other words, men’s soccer has had more time to grow. Soccer is arguably one of the most popular sports in the world since it is so widely played. Places like South America, Africa, and Europe have had soccer deeply embedded in their culture. This is not the case in America. Most people here tend to favor football, baseball, or basketball over soccer.

Another major difference is how soccer is set up in America. In other countries, the youth teams are funded by the professional teams. This allows for kids with little money to still be able to play- think Pele. In America, the club teams are funded by the player’s families. So, if you don’t have the money to play, then you can’t play.

It is also huge in what the focus is on youth soccer. Many coaches tend to focus on the success of the team rather than improving skills. As the focus is shifted away from improving individual skill. We can see that this doesn’t develop the players as it does in other countries.

The Future

There is hope that the MNT can qualify for the 2022 World Cup. The average age of the team is 25. This will give them the advantage of being faster than other teams.

This also means that there is still room for them to improve. Older players can still improve, but with younger players, their skill seems easier to mold. This also means that the players will have more time to play with each other and learn how to do so.

If qualifying is approached right, their skills should improve. The coach must also put the focus on the improvement of the players, rather than winning games. They need to win to qualify, but if they can’t improve their skills, they probably won’t make it far in the World Cup. 

With so many talented players like Mark McKenzie and Christian Pulisic, we have to keep in mind how the team plays. Some teams try to replicate tiki-taka, but some teams aren’t made for that style of play. The MNT likes to play long balls to the forwards. This makes sense for the team since they are so young and can outrun many players. Hopefully, the team is finding a way to play that makes the most sense, rather than pushing a style on them.

I think that if they focus on improving then qualifying, they’ll be able to play in the 2022 World Cup. I also hope that by changing how we teach the youth to play, that will improve future players and teams.