USMNT’s tough journey continues through November


Erik Drost

Two USMNT players fight for control in a 2019 match.

The United States men’s national team currently sits in 2nd place in the final round of World Cup qualifying in North America. November was one of the toughest on the road to Qatar 2022. With games against Mexico in Cincinnati and Jamaica away, the United States Men’s National Team faced 2 of the hardest teams in the region. Let’s take a deep dive into what the U.S. has done in this gauntlet of a month.

The U.S defeated Mexico 2-0 on home soil, bringing them up to first place in North America. In the first half, Mexico controlled possession and produced higher quality chances, but keeper Zack Steffen made multiple fantastic saves and earned himself a clean sheet against one of the strongest attacks in the region. However, the U.S. had some great counter attacks with fantastic passing.

The American midfield dominated that of Mexico, and were able to win a lot of headers sent their way. Walker Zimmerman did a fantastic job as the last defender and was able to force some saveable shots defensively.

Three minutes into the second half, Timothy Weah played an amazing pass into the box which led to a shot on goal, but keeper Guillermo Ochoa made a fantastic save. Timothy Weah would continue to do a great job setting up shots, and for many fans, he was the man of the match. He contributed to both goals in this match, one of which was a direct assist. The U.S. didn’t allow a shot on goal after a certain point in the second half.

The U.S. drew 1-1 with Jamaica on the road, bringing the team back down to second place in CONCACAF. The team came out very hot and applied a lot of pressure against Jamaica’s defense. Timothy Weah once again shined for the USMNT by getting past the defensive line and beating the keeper for a goal in the 11th minute. This goal was entirely his own work and a fantastic run into the 6 yard box. Four minutes later, another great attack was on display for the USMNT, getting 2 great chances off of a cross from Weah, but Ricardo Pepi and Brendan Aaronsen couldn’t manage to score.

The U.S. continued to apply pressure, giving up a few dangerous attacks, but star striker Michail Antonio managed to find space in the U.S. half and that was all he needed. He scored an amazing shot from beyond the 18-yard box, tying the game at 1-1. Heading into the half, the U.S. looked like the better team but simply couldn’t finish their chances when given to them.

But after the half, Jamaica looked fantastic. Within three minutes of the start of the half, Jamaica already had a great chance on goal, but the shot went wide. The U.S. responded soon after, with a deep shot from past the penalty box, which sailed just over the crossbar. It was clear the USMNT needed to make changes if they wanted to win this game; they brought on Christian Pulisic in the 65th minute. Ten minutes later, Jamaica was given a corner kick due to solid defending from Zimmerman. The ball swung into the box past the defensive line, and a Jamaican forward headed it into the net. The referee called this goal offsides; therefore, it was disallowed. After that Jamaica controlled possession and set up solid chances but they could never finish them off, and the U.S. escaped Jamaica with a point.

Looking forward, the Stars and Stripes are set to take on seventh place El Salvador at home, first place Canada away, and eighth (and last place) Honduras at home. Away against El Salvador, the USMNT drew 0-0, however the U.S. has looked far better since then, and has much improved offensively so the odds are in the American’s favor. Away at Canada will be tough, as the U.S. drew them 1-1 at home and Canada has looked really good so far though this qualifying cycle. Based on the 4-1 win of the U.S. against Honduras away, this should be an easy game to snag 3 points and possibly get to 22 points, which is very likely enough to punch a ticket to Qatar. Many say the U.S. only needs 19 points to qualify but others claim it may be as high as 22.

Overall, this was a decent camp given the challenge of the opponents the U.S. faced; however, next month the USMNT needs to snag at least 7 points from 3 games in order to guarantee a spot in Qatar. That said, the U.S. is in a tough spot where if they lose a game and Mexico and Panama do not, they will go down to 4th and that will be a tough spot to fight out of. Nonetheless, there is certainly hope for the USMNT as they inch their way closer and closer to Qatar.