USMNT Bracket Placement Inches Them Closer to World Cup Finals
It’s official -- the USMNT is now a qualifier for the 2026 World Cup in Qatar! This will be Team USA’s 11th World Cup and first since 2014. What did it take to get here, and what does that mean for the USMNT’s future? Let’s take a look.
Team USA was placed in Group B during the April 1 World Cup Draw. They’re slatted to face an undetermined European qualifier, England then Iran.
All three matches will take place in November. Although the USMNT won’t know their first opponent until June, it’s clear they’ll be competing against one of three teams: Wales, Ukraine, or Scotland. Wales will face the winner of the Ukraine-Scotland match for the final spot in the tournament.
The three group stage matches will be held at three different stadiums in Qatar.
Team USA’s first match against the currently unknown European qualifier will take place on Monday, November 21. The second match comes the day after Thanksgiving when Team USA plays against England on Friday, November 25. The third match against Iran will be held on Monday, November 28. All three matches start at 2 p.m. (ET).
After the three matches are completed in late November, the knockout round will begin on December 3. Quarterfinals begin December 9, the semifinals are on December 13 and 14, and the final is on December 18.
Match against England:
The Black Friday match will surely feed into the two countries’ established rivalry. Between friendlies and World Cup appearances, both teams have met 11 times in their history. Considered one of the biggest upsets in World Cup history, Team USA knocked England out of the group stage during the 1950 World Cup.
What makes this game interesting is the number of U.S. players employed at English clubs currently, including star forward Christian Pulisic (Chelsea); U.K.-born left back Antonee Robinson (Fulham); goalkeepers Zack Steffen (Manchester City), Ethan Horvath (Nottingham Forest) and Matt Turner (joining Arsenal this summer); and forward Josh Sargent (Norwich City).
Match against Iran:
The anticipated match against Iran certainly adds tension to the game, particularly regarding the United States’ geopolitical climate with the nation. The last time Team USA faced Iran was in 1998 when the USMNT lost 2-1 at the World Cup in France. This rematch doesn’t stray far from the mission, though. For both coaches, the only mission is to inch closer to the World Cup finals.