At the inaugural World Cup in Uruguay in 1930, the United States achieved a highly respectable third-placed finish. Unfortunately, they have never gotten close to replicating that form, with their most impressive result since a quarter-final appearance at the 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea. Indeed, they didn’t even qualify for the finals at all last time around in Russia in 2018.
As a result, asking whether or not they can compete for the ultimate trophy in world soccer in four years’ time might seem like a silly question. However, the fact that the USA is currently enjoying a glut of exciting young talents who ply their trades in Europe’s top leagues, alongside their home nation status at the tournament, means it’s perhaps not as foolish as it might first seem. Here’s a deeper dive into their competition-winning credentials.
A “golden generation”?
The USA has had many players earn their bread in European leagues across the years, but rarely (if ever) have so many of them done so as at the present time. These aren’t bit-part players, either; some of the most exciting up-and-comers in world soccer happen to be American right now.
For example, there’s Christian Pulisic at European and World Club champions Chelsea. Weston McKennie has become a mainstay in the centre of Juventus’ midfield, while Sergio Dest has locked down the right-back slot at Barcelona and Tyler Adams is setting the Bundesliga alight at RB Leipzig. Meanwhile, soccer prodigies Timothy Weah and Gio Reyna (sons of George and Claudio, respectively) add further excitement to the lineup. With all those players in their teens or early twenties, they could well be a force to be reckoned with come 2026.
The USA has been selected to host the World Cup in 2026 along with Canada and Mexico. But while the latter two nations will stage just 10 games apiece, the United States will be home to 60 matches. While it might sound like a trivial detail, any fan of live sport betting will know very well that home advantage should not be written off or underestimated.
In World Cup terms, of the 21 finals to have taken place thus far, six of them have been won by the host nation. This happened with the first two tournaments (in Uruguay and Italy, respectively), but also occurred more recently when France hosted the competition and Les Bleus scored an unlikely victory over pre-tournament favorites Brazil in the final. Could the USA do the same in 2026?
The stars (and stripes) aligning
Of course, it’s difficult to say with any certainty what will happen so far into the future. But with the US having all but sealed their place in Qatar for this year’s tournament, and with their presence at the 2026 edition guaranteed by virtue of their host status, they should have thoroughly vanquished the disappointment of missing out in 2018.
What’s more, the fact that all of their rising starlets will be entering the prime of their careers gives much cause for optimism that they can use the intervening four years to gel as a unit. If they can do so, they could well prove a match for even the biggest boys of the sport on their day.
Despite their underwhelming performances on the international stage in the sport, the USA are still ranked 13th in the world by FIFA. Who’s to say that they can’t climb that leaderboard even further by 2026? With such promising players at their disposal, they might not have a better chance to win the World Cup in the foreseeable future.