The World Cup is the premier sporting event of the world. Every four years, billions of people tune in to see the nations of the world battle it out in their perfection of the beautiful game, soccer. Outside of the United States, football (or as we call it, soccer) is the largest sport in every single country by virtually every metric you could think of. The United States, following up on their poor performance from 2018, has qualified for the World Cup, marking their first appearance in the tournament since 2014, in Brazil.
This year, the World Cup will take place in Qatar. This is the first time that Qatar will participate in the World Cup, and Qatar is the first Middle Eastern country to host the World Cup. However, the Qatari hosting of the World Cup has been marred with accusations of forced labor and worker mistreatment, accusations that have been dogging other oil states in the region for a manifold of reasons. However, the Cup is continuing unfazed.
America initially entered the qualifiers for the World Cup with a direct bye to the third round due to their high position in the FIFA World Rankings. Upon reaching the third round, America then placed third in the qualification table, earning a spot in the World Cup. This is the US’s 10th World Cup since the formation of its national team. America has been drawn into Group B, where they will be playing against England, Wales, and Iran.
The United States men’s national team has historically been considered a lesser-rate team in international soccer. America has historically had a very bad record in international soccer, as there has never been a strong domestic platform for the sport. American players were historically less experienced, American training was of inferior quality, and Americans just didn't care about soccer. With the turn of the 21st century, the situation has been improving, but the US men’s national team is still seen as a bit of a joke in the football world, especially after their failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup and their losses against Costa Rica, Mexico, and Trinidad and Tobago.
Group B, with competition from England, Wales, and Iran, is one of the most cutthroat groups drawn at the World Cup, as all of those teams are considered to be capable of besting one another. England, the founder of modern soccer, is likely to win the group, and any American advancement to the group stage is unlikely. However, American fans are still quite optimistic about the Cup, especially with a rapidly improving squad.
While many may dissect the World Cup in order to gain a complex understanding of international soccer, the best way to enjoy it is simply to root for a country (or countries). Football is the stuff from which tears are shed, triumphs are borne, and legends are made. While America might not be as keen on the World Cup as other countries, it still is a worthwhile event to keep up with.
The first match of the World Cup is on Sunday, November 20, 2022, at 11:00 AM Eastern Time. It will be a kickoff for the entire world cup, consisting of a match between Qatar and Ecuador.