The 2022 FIFA World Cup is fast approaching.
After missing the tournament in 2018, the US men’s national team is back on the field for 2022. Led by a group of talented young players, expectations for the US national team have soared.
World Cup host Andres Kantor caught up with NBC to share his thoughts on Team USA, their predictions for the tournament and one key player to watch in Qatar.
Let’s take a look at Cantor’s preview of the US team:
What stands out about USMNT?
The USMNT World Cup roster has yet to be announced.
But we have a general idea of the players who will be heading to Qatar. There should be an exciting mix of youth and experience as the United States looks to advance through the group stage.
Kantor sees the US team as having a good balance with the young talent who are already beginning to play on the big stage in Europe.
“I think the US team has a bunch of talented young players,” Kantor said. “Many of them are mainstays at the big European clubs. This experience is invaluable when it comes to the World Cup.
“I have confidence and belief that the United States can do well,” Kantor said. “Although the team is, on average, very young, it does not mean that they do not have experience. Christian Pulisic, Giovanni Reina (Younes) Musa, you name it. They have European football under their feet.”
How does USMNT exit the group stage?
After a random tie, the United States was placed in Group B with Wales, England and Iran.
England is the most likely candidate to lead the group, according to their ranking No. 5 in the world in the FIFA rankings. United States rated No. 14with Wells in No. 19 and Iran in number 22.
The US Soccer Federation will face Wales in its first match, before facing England second and concluding the group stage against Iran.
“The most important moment in the World Cup, before the ball is kicked, is the World Cup draw,” Kantor said. “The second most important thing in every World Cup is the opening match.
“So, what do (the United States) need to get out of the group stage? Obviously, he beat Wales in the opening game and got the England game with three points in hand. Then he fought (against Iran) with at least three points from the opening game. That is The key, the opening match.”
Who is the must-watch player from USMNT?
When you think of USMNT, one player immediately comes to mind.
“I would make the obvious choice, which is Christian Pulisic,” Kantor said when asked about the most important American player. “He is probably the most experienced player, the European champion. He plays at the highest level ever, and plays a very specific role at Chelsea.”
Pulisic, 23, has been in the spotlight since his debut for the national team in 2016. He moved to the Premier League to play for Chelsea in 2019, where he scored 19 goals in 80 appearances.
“He is a talented player, and he is young. He can give you two modes, and he can play on the left, right or the false nine.”
“If you asked that question to 10 people who follow the American team, I’m sure nine out of 10 would say Christian Pulisic. He knows all eyes will be on him. It’s good that he has European experience, but that’s different. He’ll wear the captaincy, and that creates Another level of pressure he didn’t have at Chelsea.”