A young United States National Team shines amid controversy at the 2022 FIFA World Cup


On November 11, the United States Men’s National Soccer Team (USMNT) arrived in Qatar for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. 

The World Cup, one shrouded in controversies like the absence of alcohol, discrimination against LGBTQ individuals, and mistreatment of migrant workers, was sure to be an interesting one. 

With an average age of 25, the team was the second youngest in the tournament. This new generation of soccer players presents a promising future for US Soccer, one of the only sports the states have failed to dominate on the international stage. 

The Americans played their first game on November 21 against Wales and drew 1-1.  A goal from forward Time Weah early in the game set the tone for the States, while Goalie Matt Turner conceded a penalty goal to Wales star Gareth Bale in the last 10 minutes of the game to equalize the score. 

The United States went on to draw 0-0 against England, going head-to-head with a heavily favored English team and keeping them from taking a large lead in the Group. England, a soccer giant, with stars like striker Harry Kane were locked down by defensive midfielder and team captain Tyler Adams, and American fans were grateful for it. 

“The USA-England game definitely exceeded my expectations,” said senior Evan Johnson, an avid USMNT fan. 

 In a must-win game, they defeated Iran 1-0 to move on to the round of 16. Star midfielder Christian Pulisic scored the squad’s lone goal with an athletic slide to put them on top. His gutsy play would haunt him though, as he left the game at halftime to go directly to the hospital with a pelvic contusion. 

The contest with Iran came with large controversy, as the United States Instagram account posted the teams upcoming matches, highlighting the Iranian flag without its Arabic writing. The US did this in support of the women of Iran, who have been discriminated against recently and even physically hurt by Iranian police for not following Islamic law. Large protest movements started all over the country and widespread social media campaigns began to support Iranian citizens. 

 The Iranian government immediately called to disqualify the team from the World Cup due to their disrespect of Iranian culture. Iranian reporters attacked United States team manager Greg Berhalter and Adams, claiming they disrespected their country with the mispronunciation of “Iran” and asking Berhalter questions about US military occupation. The reporters also asked Adams, an African-American, about his feelings while playing for a country that discriminates against his people.

“The questions were completely unfair, soccer players shouldn’t have to speak on politics,” added Johnson. 

With the win against Iran, the USMNT finished number two in their group and was into the World Cup knockout round of 16. They faced off against The Netherlands, a strong team with experienced defensive star Vigil Van Dijk and young attacker Cody Gakpo. Many experts predicted a US upset, as they were able to stay in the game against England, a similarly skilled team. This was sadly not the Case, as the United States fell 3-1 in a lopsided match where The Netherlands controlled the attack throughout the contest.

 Although they lost before they could make a real run at the cup, disappointed fans look towards the next World Cup in 2026, where the United States will host along with Canada and Mexico.    

“I’m disappointed in our performance, we could’ve played much better.  I’m looking forward to the next World Cup, we can make a run in that one,” said senior Matthew Macioch.